On the Rooftop: A Novel | Mechanics' Institute

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On the Rooftop: A Novel
with author Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Thursday, February 23, 2023 - 6:00pm

San Francisco's Fillmore the "Harlem of the West" is the setting for this compelling story about family and community and a mother's aspirations for her musical daughters amid threatening relationships and gentrification.

At home they are just sisters, but on stage, they are The Salvations. Ruth, Esther, and Chloe have been singing and dancing in harmony since they could speak. Thanks to the rigorous direction of their mother, Vivian, they’ve become a bona fide girl group whose shows are the talk of the Jazz-era Fillmore.

Now Vivian has scored a once-in-a-lifetime offer from a talent manager, who promises to catapult The Salvations into the national spotlight. Vivian knows this is the big break she’s been praying for. But sometime between the hours of rehearsal on their rooftop and the weekly gigs at the Champagne Supper Club, the girls have become women, women with dreams that their mother cannot imagine.

The neighborhood is changing, too: all around the Fillmore, white men in suits are approaching Black property owners with offers. One sister finds herself called to fight back, one falls into the comfort of an old relationship, another yearns to make her own voice heard. And Vivian, who has always maintained control, will have to confront the parts of her life that threaten to splinter: the community, The Salvations, and even her family

 

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, born and raised in New Orleans, studied creative writing at Dartmouth College and law at UC Berkeley. Her most recent novel On the Rooftop was a Reese Witherspoon “Reese’s Book Club” pick for September 2022. Her prior novel The Revisioners, won a 2020 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work and a George Garrett New Writing Award; was a California and Northern California Book Award finalist, a 2020 Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award Finalist and a Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing finalist; was nominated for the 2020 Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize; and was a national bestseller as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom, was long-listed for the National Book Award and the Northern California Book Award, won the Crook's Corner Book Prize, and was the recipient of the First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Zyzzyva, The Paris Review; O, The Oprah Magazine; The New York Times Book Review; and other publications. She lives in Oakland with her family. (Photo by Smeeta Mahanti)

 

 

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