Melissa Harris-Perry | March 09, 2013
>>> it is still a pretty big deal as a writer to have your first book published or any book for that matter, but it is another thing altogether to have the support of literary powerhouses like toni morrison andsolomon rushdi, and that is " ghana must go" and it is beautifully crafted, because it tells the story of a man's death and abandoned his family 16 years earlier and how that loss serves as the healing process , and equally important is the focus on the immigrant presence and the struggles that immigrants go through and how we as a society can think about the benefits and the contributions and the realities, and the humanity of those who we label as immigrants. so i am so happy to welcome the author of " ghana must go." it is lovely to have you here.
>> my pleasure.
>> writing, becoming a writer.
>> we have been talking a little bit about the idea of women making choices, and i was reading this lovely interview with you in "elle" where you talk about making a choice between the boy and the book. all right. you ultimately decide on the book. how do you choose this path for yourself?
>> i think that what was happening for me in that moment, and i imagine that it may happen for many women is that i had fallen absolutely in love with absolutely the wrong person. the good news is that i was already absolutely in love with writing, so it was at a time when i had written the first part of " ghana must go" and tasked to write the second and the third, and i was experiencing a writer's block for many reasons, and fear being amongst them, but i was trying to be something that i wasn't was literally preventing me from being what i was. in order the write authentically, you have to be authentic, and so you have to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and know you are true. so when i woke up in the morning and looked at myself, i realized it was not me, and so when i changed myself and got back the myself, i was able to finish the book.
>> and i loved every moment i stayed with it, and it is courageous, because it is poetic even as it is fictional and it feels so real. there is a sense of embodying the characters. you write men and women and younger people and older people, and tell me about the process of embodying?
>> sure. it is a bit of a magic act in a way what a writer does i think. sometimes i read passages that i have written and i literally ask myself, where on earth did that come from? i am neither a mother nor a wife nor old man nor dead, so how can you tell these stories.
>> and you are experiencing the humanity of others, and they know. i am a human being , so i am not a mother, but i have loved. i am not a father, but i have wanted. i am not dead, but i have feared. i think of my experience as a human being as equipping me to receive truths about other experiences, and i just do the best i can to render that truth and to do so beautifully.
>> i want you to share a passage with nerdland, with our audience about the specific experience of the african immigrant experience within the context of the black experience, but much more importantly the border crossing reality of what it means to be both human and immigrant, and share this passage that i love.
>> absolutely. at the point, the character is on his last legs. yes, we are one page from his death, and he says this. he says, to have dared to become, to escape would have sufficed to be free if one wants swelling strings, to be beyond being a citizen, and beyond being poor. it was all he was after in the end, a human story, a way to be kweku beyond being poor. to have them in the village to have spat them up and be nameless villages, cogs, to have fled thus unhooked on the small sssai for the vastness and the smallness of life free of want, the petty triumphs, and the state, grinding work, civil war , yes this would have been quite enough kweku things. born in dust, dead.
>> thank you so much.
>>> and coming up, how i almost worked as a funeral director. there is more nerdland at the top of the hour. i really loved this.