Download Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File Audiobook

Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File Audiobook, by John Edgar Wideman Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: John Edgar Wideman Narrator: Roger Guenveur Smith Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2016 ISBN: 9781508230564
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An award-winning writer traces the life of the father of iconic Civil Rights martyr Emmett Till—a man who was executed by the Army ten years before Emmett’s murder. An evocative and personal exploration of individual and collective memory in America by one of the most formidable Black intellectuals of our time.

In 1955, Emmett Till, aged fourteen, traveled from his home in Chicago to visit family in Mississippi. Several weeks later he returned, dead; allegedly he whistled at a white woman. His mother, Mamie, wanted the world to see what had been done to her son. She chose to leave his casket open. Images of her brutalized boy were published widely. While Emmett’s story is known, there’s a dark side note that’s rarely mentioned. Ten years earlier, Emmett’s father was executed by the Army for rape and murder.

In Writing to Save a Life, John Edgar Wideman searches for Louis Till, a silent victim of American injustice. Wideman’s personal interaction with the story began when he learned of Emmett’s murder in 1955; Wideman was also fourteen years old. After reading decades later about Louis’ execution, he couldn’t escape the twin tragedies of father and son and tells their stories together for the first time. Author of the award-winning Brothers and Keepers, Wideman brings extraordinary insight and a haunting intimacy to this devastating story.

An amalgam of research, memoir, and imagination, Writing to Save a Life is completely original in its delivery—an engaging and enlightening conversation between generations, the living and the dead, fathers and sons. Wideman turns seventy-five this year, and he brings the force of his substantial intellect and experience to this beautiful, stirring book, his first nonfiction in fifteen years.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] tricked-out time machine to a familiar destination: the jagged fault lines of America’s racial divide.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

  • “Masterfully weaves together memory, history, and archival documents with letters and conversations he imagines to capture the cruel irony of the Tills’ fate.”

    Washington Post

  • “Brilliant and ultimately ferocious.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Wideman pens a powerful blend of fact and fiction, riffing on concerns and themes that he has explored for a half century.”

    Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank

  • “I was grateful for Wideman’s nimble intellect, his commitment to nuance, and his insistence that we pay attention to the brutalities perpetrated under the guise of justice.”

    Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams

  • “Narrator Roger Guenveur Smith approaches this work with a dark, ominous tone that matches the mood of the book. His voice drips with disdain and accusation as he reads about the injustice that Louis Till faced and that ultimately led to his death.”

    AudioFile

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About the Author

John Edgar Wideman is the author of Writing to Save a Life, Philadelphia Fire, Brothers and Keepers, Fatheralong, Hoop Dreams, and Sent for You Yesterday. He is a MacArthur Fellow and has won the PEN/Faulkner Award twice and has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and National Book Award.

About the Narrator

Roger Guenveur Smith, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, is an actor, writer, and director whose work has been distinguished with the Obie, Peabody, Audelco, Bessie, Helen Hayes, Barrymore, and NAACP Image Awards. He has served as artist in residence at the University of California, as NEA/TCG Playwright in Residence at the Mark Taper Forum, and has received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Charleston. His many collaborations with director Spike Lee include Malcolm X, Summer of Sam, the telefilm version of A Huey P. Newton Story, and his improvised creation of the stuttering hero Smiley for the Oscar-nominated Do the Right Thing. His eclectic range of screen credits also includes King of New York, Deep Cover, Eve’s Bayou, All About the Benjamins, the telefilms Hamlet and The Color of Courage, and the innovative HBO series Oz and K Street.