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Nathaniel Popkin, "The Year of Return"

Big Blue Marble welcomes back Nathaniel Popkin and his new novel, "The Year of Return."

Set against the backdrop of 1976 Philadelphia, The Year of the Return follows the path of two families, the Jewish Silks and African American Johnsons, as they are first united by marriage and then by grief, turmoil, and the difficult task of trying to live in an America failing to live up to its ideals.

Nate will be in conversation with author and Mt. Airyite Lori Tharps, whose work also explores issues of multicultural/multiracial families.

Join us for the evening of great writing and inspired conversation about family and race.

Set against the backdrop of 1976 Philadelphia, The Year of the Return follows the path of two families, the Jewish Silks and African American Johnsons, as they are first united by marriage and then by grief, turmoil, and the difficult task of trying to live in an America failing to live up to its ideals. 

 

Paul Silk and Charlene Johnson are journalists whose love for each other and commitment to social justice were formed in the peace movements of the 1960s. But the idealism of that era leads to the urban deterioration of the 1970s. Mayor Frank Rizzo's Philadelphia is a place of crime, white flight, and class resentment that is inhospitable to their interracial marriage, forcing them to move away. But when Charlene dies of cancer, Paul returns. 

Unmoored and unable to let go of Charlene, he wades back into the lives of the two families, with the hope of helping Charlene's younger brother Monte, once a prodigy and now a troubled veteran of the Vietnam War. Their explosive reunion leads to the baring of personal revelations and dangerous secrets.

The Year of the Return is a vivid story of families trying to reconnect with and support each other through trauma and loss, and a meditation on the possibility of moving on to a better future.

“Emotionally honest, authentically rendered. The Year of the Return deftly shifts narratives to tell the intertwined stories of the Johnsons and the Silks, the interracial marriage that inextricably binds them, the loss that shatters them. Nathaniel Popkin has crafted a novel that is both haunting and graceful with a soulfulness that lingers.
—Diane McKinney-Whetstone, author of Lazaretto

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