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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Monday, November 19 @9:45 AM ET - Janeane spoke with Kiese Laymon, author of the brilliant and candid memoir HEAVY

LISTEN to today's conversation
with Kiese Laymon

Kiese Laymon's memoir, HEAVY, named one of the 2018 KIRKUS PRIZE FINALIST and just reviewed in the New York Times Book Review

*Shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal and Kirkus Prize Finalist*

In this powerful and provocative memoir, genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse.

Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been.

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood—and continues through twenty-five years of haunting implosions and long reverberations.



  1. Laymon begins the book with a serious note to his mother, a professor who raised him with the help of Laymon’s a dear grandmother. “I did not want to write about us,” he writes of his connection with his mother. “I wanted to write a lie.” From there he investigates into a courageous analysis of the complex relationship they shared as he came of age as a black man in the 1980s and ’90s Mississippi. Laymon grew up in a family that trained his intelligence and creativity. His childhood was troubled by hunger and struggle. Books were available, but his mother bounced checks at the local grocery store; his home life included writing exercises and punishments in equal measure. Throughout, Laymon lays bare the many secrets mother and son kept from each other in their home: addictions, physical injury, natural harm, eating disorders, theft, lies, and shame. As he narrates this, he holds the culture of the U.S. accountable for its role in creating and feeding the family effort and harmful strength that shaped the efforts of both, making it so difficult for them to give and receive love in a trusting and honest way. I got an organized writing style from the book. I am inspired by that. Every word is and corrects wonderful substance. I like to read books to get a good knowledge of languages. You have good writing ability and it makes the reader read the book to an ever increasing extent. Thank you such a great amount for this incredible post. This blog is good among other I have ever read. This article has every last moment points of interest which are clear. Keep sharing more considerations. I found your site as a perfect platform to get good contents to read. I would love to say the contents which you are sharing in website are very opting and easy to understand.

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