Chatting With Natalie Baszile & Lalita Tademy
Friday’s Twitter chat includes a double bill of Southern writers who both take inspiration from their own family histories.
Natalie Baszile (pictured at left) met Lalita Tademy while she was finishing up her debut novel Queen Sugar. That was in 2011, and Baszile says Tademy has become her “adopted mentor” over the past year. “For many years, I just admired her from a distance,” she says. Both writers live in northern California but have a penchant for setting their stories in Louisiana.
Tademy’s debut novel Cane River was Oprah’s summer book pick in 2001. She followed up with Red River in 2007, and her most recent novel, Citizens Creek, is out this month. Cane River, which chronicles the lives of four women on a Creole plantation, and Red River, which focuses on newly freed black residents during Reconstruction, are both set in central Louisiana, but Tademy takes us to Oklahoma for Citizens Creek, with parallel stories of a once-enslaved man who buys his freedom after serving as a translator during the American Indian Wars and his granddaughter who must sustain his legacy of courage.
In Queen Sugar, Baszile introduces us to Southwest Louisiana, where sugarcane reigns. Her main character Charley, a California native, inherits 800 acres of sugarcane from her father in a fictional version of Iberia Parish and attempts to coax something lush and beautiful from the land while learning a few life lessons herself. O Magazine chose it as their Book of the Week.
See Baszile reading from Queen Sugar during the Louisiana Book Festival here.
Baszile and Tademy (pictured at right) have one more thing in common: They’ve both used their own family histories for story inspiration. Baszile’s father grew up in South Louisiana, and although she was raised in California, she longed to know more about the exotic land down South and her relatives who still lived there. Tademy used family stories about her great-grandmother Emily to probe deeper into her family’s roots in Cane River.
Join us in chatting with Natalie Baszile and Lalita Tademy on Friday, November 14, from 1-2 CST (2-3 EST) using the hashtag #southernlit. We’ll ask them about supporting each other as writers, telling family stories and writing about the South from afar.