By Maeve Ballantine
Marita Golden will speak at The Writer's Center on May 21 at 2 p.m. followed by a reception and book signing. For more information about this event, see our Facebook event.
“Recognize that your story doesn't have to be validated by the larger society for it to be a valid story,” Marita Golden, the award winning novelist and teacher, said. “Many stories have value, and I think it’s important for writers of color to write and to recognize that it is important work that they are doing." As co-founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, Golden helps pave the road to success for emerging writers of color. "For the last 27 years, the foundation has been providing a community where black writers can get support and do their writing in an environment that recognizes the legitimacy of their writing,” she said. “It is very satisfying to see them go on and get their work published and [win] awards. It's very gratifying to have that kind of impact."
Golden's latest novel, The Wide Circumference of Love introduces us to the Tate family as they struggle with the effect that Alzheimer’s disease has on their patriarch, Gregory. His wife is forced to make tough decisions while holding the family together. A particularly moving aspect of the story is son Sean’s efforts to fix his relationship with his father as Gregory slowly begins to lose more of his sense and memories.
Despite the fact that Golden had no prior experience with the disease, nor had she thought of writing about it, she felt inspired to do so after dropping another novel. "I was working on another book but I had to stop because I couldn't go further, it wasn't my story to write." She said. "Then I woke up one day and wrote about a family dealing with Alzheimer's. It was an unexpected inspiration."
"For several months before writing, I read everything I could about Alzheimer's. I also was lucky to find a woman who lives in Maryland who works with people who have someone in their family with dementia and Alzheimer's,” Golden said. “She helps with caregiving and assisted living and all of that. She was my guide through the world of Alzheimer's." Golden also interviewed families who had loved ones with Alzheimer's and spoke to doctors.
During her research, Golden learned African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's as Caucasians. “I found this to be a very startling statistic,” she said. “So I tried to write about Alzheimer's in an imaginative and creative way. . . .You get tapped on the shoulder by the universe, and it tells you what to do,” she added. “It's the purest kind of inspiration.”
The Wide Circumference of Love is a touching story about a very real and common disease that over 5 million American citizens and their families face every year. It is both a moving tribute to those people and an engaging story about a family who tries to face this struggle together with patience and of course, love.