AUTHOR EVENT
Safiya Sinclair: How to Say Babylon
7PM MONDAY, JULY 29
Safiya Sinclair
LOCATION: PHOENIX




Ticket (includes book) required >

National Book Critics Circle Award winning author, Safiya Sinclair discusses her debut memoir, How to Say Babylon, with Javier Zamora.


ABOUT THE BOOK

New York Times Notable Book
Best Book of the Year for The Washington Post* The New Yorker * Time * The Atlantic * Los Angeles Times * NPR * Harper’s Bazaar * Vulture * Town & Country * San Francisco Chronicle * Christian Science Monitor * Mother Jones * Barack Obama
A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick

“Impossible to put down...Each lyrical line sings and soars, freeing the reader as it did the writer.” —People

With echoes of Educated and The Glass CastleHow to Say Babylon is a “lushly observed and keenly reflective chronicle” (The Washington Post), brilliantly recounting the author’s struggle to break free of her rigid religious upbringing and navigate the world on her own terms.

Throughout her childhood, Safiya Sinclair’s father, a volatile reggae musician and a militant adherent to a strict sect of Rastafari, was obsessed with the ever-present threat of the corrupting evils of the Western world outside their home, and worried that womanhood would make Safiya and her sisters morally weak and impure. For him, a woman’s highest virtue was her obedience.

Safiya’s extraordinary mother, though loyal to her father, gave her the one gift she knew would take Safiya beyond the stretch of beach and mountains in Jamaica their family called home: a world of books, knowledge, and education she conjured almost out of thin air. When she introduced Safiya to poetry, Safiya’s voice awakened. As she watched her mother struggle voicelessly for years under relentless domesticity, Safiya’s rebellion against her father’s rules set her on an inevitable collision course with him. Her education became the sharp tool to hone her own poetic voice and carve her path to liberation. Rich in emotion and page-turning drama, How to Say Babylon is “a melodious wave of memories” of a woman finding her own power (NPR).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Safiya Sinclair was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica. She is the author of the memoir How to Say Babylon, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, a finalist for the Women's Prize in Nonfiction, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and the Kirkus Prize. How to Say Babylon was one of the New York Times's 100 Notable Books of the year, a Washington Post Top 10 Book of 2023, a TIME magazine Top 10 Nonfiction Book of 2023, one of The Atlantic's 10 Best Books of 2023, a Read with Jenna/ TODAY show book club pick, and one of President Barack Obama's favorite books of 2023. How to Say Babylon was also named a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker, NPR, The Guardian, the Los Angeles TimesVulture, and Harper's Bazaar, among others, and was an ALA Notable Book of the Year The audiobook of How to Say Babylon was named a Best Audiobook of the Year by AudioFile magazine.

Sinclair is also the author of the poetry collection Cannibal, winner of a Whiting Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Addison Metcalf Award in Literature, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Poetry, and the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Sinclair's other honours include a Guggenheim fellowship, and fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the Civitella Rainieri Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, MacDowell, Yaddo, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is currently an associate professor of creative writing at Arizona State University.


ABOUT THE MODERATOR

Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador in 1990. His father fled the country when he was one, and his mother when he was about to turn five. Both parents’ migrations were caused by the U.S.-funded Salvadoran Civil War. When he was nine Javier migrated through Guatemala, Mexico, and the Sonoran Desert. His debut poetry collection, Unaccompanied, explores the impact of the war and immigration on his family. Zamora has been a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard and holds fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.