The Grace of Silence
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About the author
Michele Norris, host of All Things Considered, is cowinner of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for The York Project: Race and the ’08 Vote and was chosen in 2009 as Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. She has written for, among other publications, The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. As a correspondent for ABC News from 1993 to 2002, she earned Emmy and Peabody awards for her contribution to the network’s 9/11 reporting. She has been a frequent guest commentator on Meet the Press, The Chris Matthews Show, and Charlie Rose. Norris lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and children.
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, Kansas City Star.
A profoundly moving and deeply personal memoir by the co-host of National Public Radio’s flagship program All Things Considered.
While exploring the hidden conversation on race unfolding throughout America in the wake of President Obama’s election, Michele Norris discovered that there were painful secrets within her own family that had been willfully withheld. These revelations—from her father’s shooting by a Birmingham police officer to her maternal grandmother’s job as an itinerant Aunt Jemima in the Midwest—inspired a bracing journey into her family’s past, from her childhood home in Minneapolis to her ancestral roots in the Deep South.
The result is a rich and extraordinary family memoir—filled with stories that elegantly explore the power of silence and secrets—that boldly examines racial legacy and what it means to be an American.
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
; September 2010
304 pages; ISBN 9780307379467Read online
, or download in secure EPUB
Title: The Grace of Silence
Author: Michele Norris
In the press
“An insightful, elegant rendering of how the history of an American family illuminates the history of our country.”
“A riveting, inspiring memoir of an at once singular and representative American family. Norris takes us on a painful yet triumphant journey of self-discovery. She relies on her formidable skills as an investigative reporter to unearth shocking family secrets kept from her by her father and mother when she was growing up. Feeling hurt and betrayed, she learns that their lack of forthrightness allowed her to rise in a country haunted by its racial past. Powerful and tender, The Grace of Silence reveals our human complexity in exemplary fashion.”
—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., University Professor and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, and author of Colored People
“History at its best is about telling stories—stories about people who lived before, about events in the past that create the contours of the present…In the hands of a gifted storyteller, a memoir becomes more than a chronicle of the writer’s life. It becomes the history of a time and a place. So it is with this magnificent memoir—one of the most eloquent, moving and insightful memoirs I have ever read.”
—Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of the New York Times bestseller Team of Rivals
“Michele Norris takes us on a riveting personal journey from north to south and back again through the tangled landscape of race in America—and teaches anew about the pain and possibilities of our past and future.”
—Tom Brokaw, author of New York Times bestsellers The Greatest Generation and Boom
“A soaring memoir that pays powerful tribute to the quiet and dignified heroes among us. Norris’ remarkable family, and her courageous journey to tell their story, creates an inspiring portrait of America that will stay with you forever. I loved this book.
—Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps
“In this exquisite memoir, Michele Norris turns her formidable powers of interviewing and storytelling onto her toughest subjects: herself, her family, and this country’s scar tissue. What follows is a journey of discovery into some of the darkest corners and brightest stars of the greatest generation. The Grace of Silence is sometimes raw, often gripping, and always graceful. A remarkably moving and enriching experience.”
—Richard Wolffe, author New York Times bestseller Renegade: The Making of a President
“A revealing, affectionate and sometimes painful memoir which dispenses with stereotype to get to the heart of what makes a family.”
—Gwen Ifill, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer