Jewell Parker Rhodes
One of these days, Seattle will properly get to welcome, in-person, one of this country’s most celebrated writers, who moved here seemingly as all was shutting down for the pandemic. That celebrated writer is Jewell Parker Rhodes, award-winning author of numerous novels and books for younger readers and adults, a memoir, two books about writing and getting published for Black writers, and the Founding Artistic Director and Piper Endowed Chair at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. Until such day as gatherings of size can happen, we celebrate virtually. And pay attention. This evening is occasioned by a new edition of Jewell Parker Rhodes’ 1997 novel for adults, Magic City (Harper Perennial). The timing of this new edition is not coincidental. Magic City takes its title from the Magic City that was Greenwood, the thriving Black center of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which would be devastated by a White mob that burned, destroyed, and killed in one of the great racist massacre horrors of U.S. history one hundred years ago.
“Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Magic City takes an ugly chapter of American history and turns it into a human tale of vulnerable people with imperfect motives and skewed vision, people who interact in dire ways with monumental consequences…. I could not, would not put this book down, not even after its last searing sentence.”- Julianne Malveaux.
“In Magic City, Jewell Parker Rhodes has made a tragic American story come vividly to life and has made these people—black and white and red, rich and poor, educated and illiterate—all achingly human. Rhodes must be commended for bringing such an important story front and center, and for making it as instructive and as moving as it is horrific.” -Randall Kenan.