THE BOOK: The High Price of Freeways.
PUBLISHED IN: 2022
THE AUTHOR: Judy Juanita.
THE PUBLISHER: Livingston Press at the University of West Alabama.
SUMMARY: The High Price of Freeways” consists of stories, most set in California, that explore the oddity of living in a place where freedom is touted, but its costs are often hidden. Abortion, rape, and childbirth form the backdrop for several stories; a pan-sexual comic gets perilously intimate with her handsome acupuncturist; three long-separated triplets reunite and somebody ends up the odd one out; militants establish a black cultural clearinghouse in San Francisco where new identities are forged. Oakland, Berkeley, S.F., Sacramento, Los Angeles — all are crisscrossed with freeways, migrants from the South, and class contradictions. When the locale shifts to New Jersey and Harlem, highways, traffic, bridges and waterways take their toll too.
THE BACK STORY: I wrote these stories over a period of 18 years. I love being a Californian and had not read stories like these, about black people that I knew and grew up around. It’s kind of a tribute to the hearty stock of pioneers that came west from the South for better opportunities and to escape segregation in the mid-20th century, like my parents.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The title mentions freeways because Californians are governed by these massive economic transportation systems that rule our daily lives. Very few freeways in the state are toll roads, save the bridges. So we don’t think of the cost but pay for them in very high taxes bond measures.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? These stories examine black lives in the golden state, the interlocking generations who migrated to California for the promise of a better life, free from discrimination. They spotlight the children of the promise, their expectations, their sense of entitlement, their dilemmas.
Sharp, smart, warm, surprising” -Joy Williams (The Quick and the Dead)
“Judy Juanita’s stories are wonderfully weird, hilarious, heart-breaking and full of vital, pulsing life. THE HIGH PRICE OF FREEWAYS is the kind of book that strikes a gong in your consciousness and leaves you dazed with unforgettable scenes and details circling your head like stars.” -Dan Chaon (Sleepwalk)
“What a wonderful abundance of stories big and small, of characters both hopeful and disillusioned, of black life in all of its exuberance, heartbreak, and resilience. Judy Juanita writes with energy and sass, and a shrewd eye and ear. Hers is an unsentimental account of a striving world, of politics as experienced in one’s own body, and of hard-won wisdom…a joy to read.” -Jean Thompson (The Year We Left Home)
AUTHOR PROFILE: This publication is the result of sheer persistence. It was a four-time finalist in the Tartt First Fiction Award before being the 2021 winner. It was a semi-finalist for the 2019 Robert C. Jones Award for Short Prose and finalist for the James Alan McPherson Award. Many stories have been published.
My poetry collection, Manhattan my ass, you’re in Oakland, won the American Book Award 2021 from the Before Columbus Foundation, my poetry has been published in Konch, 13th Moon, Asili, Drumvoices, Glint, New Verse News, Paterson Literary Review, Poetry Monthly.com, Painted Bride Quarterly, Lips, Crab Orchard Review, Croton Review and Obsidian II. My poem “Bling” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012. My semi-autobiographical novel, Virgin Soul, is about a young woman who joins the Black Panther Party in the 60s (Viking, 2013). My collection of essays,DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland [EquiDistance, 2016], examines race, gender, politics and spirituality, as experienced by a black activist and self-described “feminist foot soldier.” It won distinguished finalist in OSU’s 2016 Non/Fiction Prize, and favorable reviews in Kirkus and KONCH. Her essay, “The Gun as Performance Poem,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014. My 20+ plays have been produced in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, L.A. and NYC. “Theodicy,” about two black men who accidentally fall into the river of death, was first runner-up in the Eileen Heckart Senior Drama Competition at OSU. A former Poet-in-the-Schools in New Jersey, I teach writing at Univ. Of California, Berkeley.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: I love adding to the rich tradition in black literature and ethnic writing of respect for the common folk. These stories pay homage to my mentors, Langston Hughes, Frank O’Connor the Irish writer, Flannery O’Connor, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and many other masters of the form. I read them and reread them for inspiration and craftsmanship.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. https://www.amazon.com/High-Price-Freeways-Judy-Juanita/dp/1604893192
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://www.judyjuanita(dot)com