Everyday People

The Color of Life--a Short Story Anthology

Edited by Jennifer Baker
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About The Book

“A delight and highly recommended.” —Booklist

“Showcases the truth and fullness of people of color.” —Book Riot

In the tradition of Best American Short Stories comes Everyday People: The Color of Life, a dazzling collection of contemporary short fiction.

Everyday People is a thoughtfully curated anthology of short stories that presents new and renowned work by established and emerging writers of color. It illustrates the dynamics of character and culture that reflect familial strife, political conflict, and personal turmoil through an array of stories that reveal the depth of the human experience.

Representing a wide range of styles, themes, and perspectives, these selected stories depict moments that linger—crossroads to be navigated, relationships, epiphanies, and times of doubt, loss, and discovery. A celebration of writing and expression, Everyday People brings to light the rich tapestry that binds us all.

The contributors are an eclectic mix of award-winning and critically lauded writers, including Mia Alvar, Carleigh Baker, Nana Brew-Hammond, Glendaliz Camacho, Alexander Chee, Mitchell S. Jackson, Yiyun Li, Allison Mills, Courttia Newland, Dennis Norris II, Jason Reynolds, Nelly Rosario, Hasanthika Sirisena, and Brandon Taylor.

Some of the proceeds from the sale of Everyday People will benefit the Rhode Island Writers Colony, a nonprofit organization founded by the late Brook Stephenson that provides space for speculation, production, and experimentation by writers of color.

Excerpt

Everyday People INTRODUCTION
For a while I had this long-standing joke that when Black babies are born they are smacked to encourage their first cry of life, swathed, and placed on the bosom of the person who brought them into this world, and then they’re handed a copy of The Black Poets, edited by Dudley Randall. The Black Poets was the quintessential book I’d see on the shelves of my fellow Black writer friends. If you were into literature, especially poetry, as an African American, then you had to have this book. It verified your commitment to the cause and for the culture. If you don’t have it, why not? How will you learn about those who came before us? Where we’re going and where we’ve been? No shade, but I have my copy. Whether I got the book soon after coming into the world or not, I cannot say.

There are other seminal anthologies used for study and inspiration, such as The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction or E. Lynn Harris and Marita Golden’s Gumbo, a celebration of African American voices. I’d like to think that Everyday People: The Color of Life—A Short Story Anthology will be that type of book over time. On shelves not only for reference but for pleasure, a book housing short fiction from an array of wonderful contemporary writers both established and emerging that speaks to experience, loss, fulfillment, and also being at that fork in the road where decisions must be made yet are not always pursued due to failings of moral fortitude. Each story will always speak to our humanity and the universality of who we are as People of Color/Indigenous People.

As I told the contributors when I approached them, Everyday People isn’t “my baby” in terms of inception. This book was birthed through the ingenuity and enthusiasm of the late Brook Stephenson, a wonderful person and literary citizen who loved books as much if not even more than I do. He wanted to see a new collection celebrate PoC voices. The aim here is to continue what other writers have cobbled together of not only Black voices but Asian/Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and Latinx ones as well. At a time when “diversity” is used as a buzzword, Brook sought to invest in the stories that people may not be seeing. The name of this anthology is not meant to solely focus on the racial composition of the writers or characters but to showcase the larger story and relationships depicted as well as the landscape—be it in New York City, Maine, Alabama, Great Britain, South Korea, Ghana, or Sri Lanka. As the Sly & the Family Stone song of the same name goes “I am no better and neither are you / We are the same whatever we do . . .”

I inherited this anthology after Brook passed away suddenly and Atria was gung ho about seeing it come to fruition. From there I solicited and corresponded with contributors during a very tense time (the 2016 US presidential election). I was heartened by how eagerly those I reached out to wanted to add their names and fiction in any way they could, or even offer a hand after the fact. In 2017, I found that reading their submissions reinvigorated me with the power of the written word when things seemed bleak. In addition, the versatility of our experiences as expressed in each story fortified me in new ways. These stories, mostly new and some republished, pack a punch in all their iterations, leaving me sated knowing that the world will have a chance to also engage with these characters and writers. From the political to the personal, from familial strife to geographical displacement, from heartbreak to ego checking, stories that gain inspiration from Langston Hughes’s Simple series (Jason Reynolds) to expounding on the depths of grief (Glendaliz Camacho), each contributor draws from a well of work that can be studied and should be savored.

I hope that in this time when people seek to be more inclusive and representative in their writing and reading that Everyday People will be that compilation reached for and sought after for the bevy of short fiction that doesn’t relegate the authors or characters to their “status” as much as recognizes their skill.

I want to extend a tremendous amount of thanks to every contributor (Courttia, Brandon, Alex, Nana, Allison, Mitch, Carleigh, Dennis, Yiyun, Mia, Nelly, Hasanthika, Jason, and Glendaliz) for sharing not only these stories with me but for the continuous work you do in your craft and your unyielding support of other writers in this industry so that we may see more PoC/Indigenous voices rise up. And thanks/blessings to Brook Stephenson, who is greatly missed. I’m confident we did you and your vision for Everyday People proud.

—JENNIFER BAKER

November 2017

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (August 2018)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501134944

Raves and Reviews

"An excellent sampling of some of the most exciting voices in literature from the past two decades and beyond that will leave readers with plenty of authors to revisit or discover."--Publishers Weekly

"A vital, riveting anthology that emphasizes the complexity and diversity of minority experience."--Kirkus

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