The Persimmon Trail and Other Stories by Juyanne James

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The seventeen stories in this debut collection by Juyanne James interpret the Louisiana experience. They stage encounters mostly with strong women—but also interesting men and families—all trying to survive in their own way. While this collection is as an evolution of the idea of "double-consciousness" and how African Americans see themselves in the world, the characters are remarkable in their own right, without having to be labeled. They are not so much concerned with color as they are with survival.

The collection opens with "You Don't Know Me, Child": a young bus rider grows fascinated with a female passenger who carries pictures in her hair, and the rider imagines the woman's past. The fractured "Bayou Buoys" is about a mother whose two boys are missing on the bayou. "Doll" is about early twentieth-century life—when black teachers were brought into small towns in the South to teach—and what happens when a field hand falls in love with a teacher.

James has written a thoroughly eclectic, lyrical collection of stories that speaks to the African American tradition, depicting life in New Orleans and rural Louisiana.

Juyanne James grew up on a farm in southeast Louisiana; she left at seventeen to join the US Navy. After holding a number of odd jobs (such as over-the-road truck driver), she returned to Louisiana to write and teach. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


About Juyanne James

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Juyanne James grew up on a farm in southeast Louisiana, then left at 17 to join the U.S. Navy. After traveling and holding a number of odd jobs (such as over-the-road truck driver) and living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she returned to Louisiana because her father was diagnosed with cancer. Back home, she went to college and received a B.A. and M.A. in English literature. She later received an M.F.A. in writing as well. James has been a teacher for ten years, including nine years at Our Lady of Holy Cross College in New Orleans. Her stories and essays have been published in journals such as The Louisville Review, Mythium, Bayou Magazine, and Eleven Eleven, and included in the anthologies New Stories from the South 2009 (Algonquin) and Something in the Water: 20 Louisiana Stories (Portals Press). She was also commissioned to write a story for Symphony Space’s Selected Shorts Project. James has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice.
Published October 27, 2015 by Broken Levee Books. 208 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction