Indiana University Northwest will host a book club discussion of “Getting Mother’s Body, the debut novel by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks on Friday, Jan. 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Savannah Center, room 107. A buffet style dinner will be provided at 5 p.m.
In April 2002 Suzan-Lori Parks became the first black woman playwright to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for drama for her play “Topdog/Underdog.” Her first novel, Getting Mother’s Body, is a critically acclaimed work of fiction often compared to the classic works of Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker.
The novel follows dirt poor, pregnant 16-year-old Billy Beede, the teenage daughter of the fast-running, no-account, and six-years-dead Willa Mae, who comes home one day to find a fateful letter waiting for her: Willa Mae’s burial spot in LaJunta, Arizona, is about to be plowed up to make way for a supermarket. As Willa Mae’s only daughter, Billy is heiress to her mother’s substantial but unconfirmed fortune—a cache of jewels that Willa Mae’s lover, Dill Smiles, is said to have buried with her. Living in a trailer with her Aunt June and Uncle Roosevelt behind a gas station in a tumbleweedy Texas town, Billy knows that treasure could mean salvation. So she steals Dill’s pickup truck and, with her aunt and uncle in tow, heads for Arizona with Dill in hot pursuit. While everyone agrees it’s only polite to speak of getting mother’s body and moving her to a proper resting place, it’s well understood that digging up Willa Mae’s diamonds and pearls will make the whole trip a lot more worthwhile.
Suzan-Lori Parks is a novelist, playwright, songwriter and screenwriter. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where she studied with James Baldwin, she has taught creative writing in universities across the country, including at the Yale School of Drama, and she heads the Dramatic Writing Program at CalArts. She is currently writing an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel Paradise for Oprah Winfrey, and the musical Hoopz for Disney. She lives in Venice Beach, Cali., with her husband, blues musician Paul Scher, and their pit bull, Lambchop.
The discussion is sponsored by the IU Northwest Center for Cultural Discovery and Learning Programming Group, Women’s Studies Program and Student Services. Please call (219) 980-6986 to RSVP for the buffet style dinner.