Title: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
Author: Mira Jacob
Publisher: One World
Publication date: March 26, 2019
Length: 349 pages
Genre: Graphic memoir
Mira Jacob’s touching, often humorous, and utterly unique graphic memoir takes readers on her journey as a first-generation American. At an increasingly fraught time for immigrants and their families, Good Talk delves into the difficult conversations about race, sex, love, and family that seem to be unavoidable these days.
Inspired by her popular BuzzFeed piece “37 Difficult Questions from My Mixed-Raced Son,” here are Jacob’s responses to her six-year-old, Zakir, who asks if the new president hates brown boys like him; uncomfortable relationship advice from her parents, who came to the United States from India one month into their arranged marriage; and the imaginary therapy sessions she has with celebrities from Bill Murray to Madonna. Jacob also investigates her own past, from her memories of being the only non-white fifth grader to win a Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest to how it felt to be a brown-skinned New Yorker on 9/11. As earnest and moving as they are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, these are the stories that have formed one American life.
I can’t think of a more timely book to read this week — on the eve of a monumentally important election — than Mira Jacob’s Good Talk. In this graphic memoir, the author shares conversations between her and her six-year-old (and later, eight-year-old) son, her husband, her in-laws, her parents, her friends, and all sorts of other relatives and acquaintances. Through these conversations, she explores what it means to have brown skin in America, and how she hopes to help her mixed-race child navigate a world that still doesn’t know how to stop treating people as others.
From her son’s early obsession with Michael Jackson up through the 2016 election, she navigates the strange and treacherous landscape of race in America, using drawn characters against photographic backgrounds to highlight a variety of conversations that are funny while also sad, startling, and infuriating.
This is a quick read, but so lovely and warm and powerful. I will definitely want to read more by this author!