Publication Day: Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

O Magazine’s Favorite Books of 2011 list

Slate’s Best Books of 2011 list

Library Journal’s Top Ten Best Books of 2011 list

Atlanta Magazine’s Best Books of 2011 list

June 2011 Indie Next Pick

National Women’s Book Association Great Group Read for 2011

As you pack your beach towels and sunscreen and prepare your summer reading list, don’t forget to snag a copy of Tayari Jones’s Silver Sparrow for your vacation getaway. It offers the thrills and drama you look for in a good summer book, fueled by a family’s secrets and dysfunctional relationships, but at the same time Jones goes beyond the standard summer reading fare with prose that is incredibly intimate and poignant.


About the book

With the opening line of Silver Sparrow, “My father, James Witherspoon is a bigamist,” Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and the teenage girls caught in the middle.

Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon’s families– the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich and flawed characters, she also reveals the joy, and the destruction, they brought to each other’s lives.

At the heart of it all are the two girls whose lives are at stake, and like the best writers, Jones portrays the fragility of her characers with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women.


Praise for Tayari Jones’s Silver Sparrow:

“In Silver Sparrow—an amazing novel about a man with two families, one hidden and one public—Jones does something breathtaking and difficult: She renders a unique family dynamic with such precision and sensitivity that it becomes universal. It is amazing to watch, time and time again in this book, how Jones reveals the ways in which family both creates and destroys our identity. Jones’ previous novels are fantastic, but this book feels like a masterpiece.” – Kevin Wilson in feature on writers’ favorite books of 2011

“It’s an amazing, amazing read.”—Jennifer Weiner on NBC’s “The Today Show”

“A soaring, uplifting take on secret sisters from up-and-comer Tayari Jones.” – O, The Oprah Magazine

“This is a complicated, heartbreaking and very rich story about how secret sisters find each other but lose as much as they gain in the process.” – Michele Norris on NPR’s “All Things Considered”

“Tayari Jones has taken Atlantafor her literary terroir, and like many of our finest novelists, she gives readers a sense of place in a deeply observed way. But more than that, Jones has created in her main characters tour guides of that region: honest, hurt, observant and compelling young women whose voices cannot be ignored… Impossible to put down until you find out how these sisters will discover their own versions of family.”—Los Angeles Times

“Award winner Tayari Jones weaves a tale of Black bigamy and two families in the fascinating fiction of Silver Sparrow.”—Ebony

“Populating this absorbing novel is a vivid cast of characters, each with his own story… Jones writes dialogue that is realistic and sparkling, with an intuitive sense of how much to reveal and when. Occasionally, she inserts a spot-on Southern bon mot that might have been handed down from one generation to another: ‘With wives, it only matters who gets there first. . . . Wives can afford to let themselves go. Concubines must be vigilant.’”—Washington Post

“Tayari Jones’s immensely pleasurable new novel pulls off a minor miracle… Subtly exploring the power of labels… Jones crafts an affecting tale about things, big and small, we forfeit to forge a family. There are no winners in this empathetic and provocative story, only survivors.”—MORE

“Charting a vast emotional unknown is Tayari Jones’s compelling third novel, Silver Sparrow, in which a teenage girl’s coming of age in 1980s Atlanta is shadowed by her dawning understanding of a corrosive secret – her father’s second family.” – Vogue

“Tayari Jones is fast defining middle-class black Atlanta the way Cheever did Westchester…” The Village Voice


Read an excerpt from Silver Sparrow


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