In Ordinary Light, Tracy K. Smith (our country’s new Poet Laureate and the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Life on Mars) investigates her struggles with devotion — to family, to religion, to history — on her path to adulthood. The youngest of five siblings, Smith was a model child — sweet-tempered, ambitious in school, and eager to please her devoutly religious mother. But as she grew older, she found herself consumed by doubts about Christianity and, as an African American coming of age in the ’70s and ’80s, increasingly conscious of the deep currents of racism in our culture. An urge to rebel coincided with the heartbreaking news that her mother was dying of cancer, leaving her to contend with a mess of guilt, alienation, and pain. Ordinary Light details this story of Smith’s early life with startling clarity. It is a gorgeous book brimming with intellectual curiosity, candid self-reflection, and, above all, deep love for family. Recommended By Renee P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
One of the Best Books of the Year
The New York Times · The Washington Post · San Francisco Chronicle · Denver Post · Oprah.com
In Ordinary Light, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith tells her remarkable story, giving us a quietly potent memoir that explores her coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter. Here is the story of a young artist struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America.
“Honest, unflinching...an inspiring model for seeking the light in an ‘ordinary’ life—ask the tough questions, look in the hidden corners, allow yourself to understand and never stop searching for faith.” O, The Oprah Magazine
“A subtle, elegant meditation that reveals the profound in the quotidian.... Exquisitely beautiful.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Engrossing in its spare, simple understatement.... Evocative...luminous.” The Washington Post
About the Author
Tracy K. Smith is the author of three acclaimed books of poetry, including most recently Life on Mars, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and a New Yorker, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A professor of creative writing at Princeton University, she lives in Princeton with her family.