Unbound conversation about Mudbound

The best discussions I’ve ever taken part in find me with at least three more topics to discuss as readers are gathering their books and purses after 90 minutes of heated conversation, still talking on their way out the door and in the parking lot. Oh, and I haven’t done any of the talking, either

I had this marvelous experience recently with Hillary Jordan’s first novel, Mudbound. Jordan’s novel comes with some very strong support. The manuscript was the winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction, an award founded and funded by Barbara Kingsolver and awarded biennially to an unpublished manuscript with a strong focus on social justice. In addition to the $25,000 prize the winner gets a publishing contract with Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.mudbound

Experienced book group readers and leaders know that Kingsolver is a perennial favorite and Algonquin Books is known for literature possessing many discussable qualities. Mudbound is exceptionally worthy of the title and I expect it to join the list of “sure bets for book groups.”

The paperback edition comes with discussion topics, but my readers blithely ignored them and immediately started discussing the narrative voice, the characters, and the issues of morality, justice, and prejudice? Sound familiar? Yes, this book was suggested as a readalike for To Kill a Mockingbird and the readers had a lively, thoughtful discussion comparing Mudbound to Mockingbird.

Readers decided that while both books discussed similar subjects, Mockingbird was a “safer” read than Mudbound which was deemed “grittier” than Mockingbird. Readers also enjoyed discussing the various endings of Mudbound and appreciated Jordan leaving readers with a choice of what to believe.

Mudbound has been named to numerous “best” lists and was on the Alex Award 2009 Winners list.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.