SJP Lit’s Latest Stunning Story
Multigenerational debut novel Coleman Hill marks the third release from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new publishing imprint.
When you hear actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s name, quite a few movies and shows probably come to mind. Parker has made a household name for herself through shows and movies like “Sex and the City,” “Hocus Pocus” and “Footloose.” Her newest project, however, is a different kind of venture—an imprint of Molly Stern’s publishing house Zando.
In 2022, Parker launched SJP Lit, which will publish between four and six books over three years. New and upcoming releases under the imprint include Elysha Chang’s A Quitter’s Paradise and Alina Grabowski’s Women and Children First, as well as Kim Coleman Foote’s Coleman Hill, which is featured on our 2023 Fall/Winter Reading List. An avid reader since childhood, Parker has stated that some of her earliest memories were of reading and that her go-to activity between takes on film and TV sets is to pick up a book. If you peruse her Instagram account, every third post or so is a picture of a book and what she’s reading or wants to read. A recent stack includes the new Zadie Smith, Michael Cunningham and Colson Whitehead with the message: “I will find time. I can’t wait.”
Parker told Oprah Daily, “I’m always drawn to books that are about really unfamiliar territory or places or people—to global voices and to challenging experiences an author is describing and illustrating and that allow me to try to understand as best as I’m able other people’s circumstances, cultures, pressures, obstacles.”
Thus, SJP Lit was born.
Parker aims to introduce these unique stories into the world, telling Town and Country, “It is simply a dream come true to have the opportunity to participate again in the discovery and support of extraordinary new voice.” Each of the announced titles thus far features distinct journeys of cultural and emotional significance, exploring new ground on the literary front.
This September, SJP Lit published Kim Coleman Foote‘s Coleman Hill. The novel is a poignant reflection across several generations of the intertwined Coleman and Grimes families during the Northern Migration from Alabama and Florida to New Jersey, detailing grief, love and cultural shifts over decades.
The “biomythography,” a term coined by the late Audre Lorde weaving together myth, history and biography, powerfully explores generational trauma and the dynamic of emancipated Black people suffering in the North. By using the narration of characters across decades, Foote perfectly illustrates the unraveling of abuse and connection between parents, children and siblings, while providing a history lesson on the contrast between the remnants of Southern slavery and the price of starting over in the North.
In 1916, during the early days of the Great Migration, Celia Coleman and Lucy Grimes flee the racism and poverty of their homes in the post–Civil War South for the “Promised Land” of Vauxhall, New Jersey. But the North possesses its own challenges and bigotries that will shape the fates of the women and their families over the next 70 years. Told through the voices of nine family members, Coleman Hill is a multigenerational debut that draws from Foote’s own family legend.
Foote told The Provincetown Independent, “When you forget parts of history, patterns repeat themselves. This goes for the great human tragedies as much as for intergenerational trauma within families.” She effortlessly illustrates this push and pull between breaking free of abuse and embracing familial bonds, leaving readers with a story more moving than any novel or historical account. Though the arc of the families’s migration is what moves the book forward, the characters’ palpable grapple to balance family and individuality is what sets this novel apart and provides an impressive history lesson like no other: that we must pay attention to the past so as to break harmful cycles in the future.
Jacqueline Woodson says of Coleman Hill, “Once in a while, a writer comes along with a brilliance that stops the breath. Kim Coleman Foote is that writer.” Sarah Jessica Parker similarly writes, “At once intimate and panoramic, Coleman Hill is the stunning, tapestried story of the interweaving of two families through seven decades of American history. Kim Coleman Foote has the rare talent of completely immersing you in time and place in this extraordinary debut.”
These are no small feats, and Foote certainly lives up to this with her moving tale.
Featured photo credit: Kim Coleman Foote by Sara Abbaspour and Sarah Jessica Parker by Andrew Day.