Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

The Yellow House” Author Sarah Broom On Ritual, Home and Careful Placemaking

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Image credit: Courtesy of Sarah Broom/Photo By Adam Shemper

It made me think so much about what happens when the signposts of your life, the things you best know, don’t exist anymore,” says Broom on the loss of her childhood home.

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WDET’s Book Club is back for a third year, and this summer’s selection is Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” a formative work of the 20th century and winner of the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953.

Detroit Today’s Stephen Henderson and readers will discuss the novel weekly on-air and online in the WDET Book Club Facebook community. You can follow along by reading three to four chapters a week until the end of August.

Listen: Sarah M. Broom on her memoir, “The Yellow House” 

In this conversation, we speak with Sarah M. Broom, Author of “The Yellow House”, the 2019 National Book Award Winner and New York Times Best Seller.

Her memoir chronicles the life lived in her family home in New Orleans East, a neighborhood often overlooked and forgotten. Broom’s work examines the importance of home, place and community through an emotional portrait of her own hometown.

It’s a privilege to be able to create a sense of home,” says Broom.

Meta Stange / WDET
Meta Stange / WDET

Discussion Points

Broom says being from a place that is often forgotten by city officials instilled her with a specific sensibility and point of view.

This act of not being on the official maps, repeatedly, is tricky because it’s not just about wanting to belong on the maps, it’s not just about recognition, it’s about resources, and zoning, and planning,” says Broom on being from New Orleans East.

Hurricane Katrina devastated Broom’s family home and the structure’s subsequent demolition triggered a sense of profound loss in her. “Loss is something I just feel so deeply. I just sit in it for a long time. The house, I didn’t quite understand what it meant to me,” says Broom.

The creation of home is something Broom deems vital, particularly in the African American community. “In a world where you feel rigorously and constantly under assault, you feel a compulsion to have a physical space where you feel safe,” says Broom.

Keep the Conversation Going

Respond on Facebook to this week’s prompt about Chapter 9: 

The narrator has been dealt a blow by the letters from Dr. Bledsoe. Emerson’s son tells the narrator the truth and says “there’s no point in blinding yourself to the truth” 

What do you think is the truth that the narrator was blind to before this revelation?  

Further Listening

Rev. Jim Wallis on “America’s Original Sin” and Ellison’s “Invisible Man”​

White Rage” Author on Racial Justice and Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”

WDET Book Club: “Invisible Man,” Black Lives Matter and the Politics of Ralph Ellison

Author Colson Whitehead on “The Nickel Boys,” “Invisible Man,” and Racial Inequity

WDET Book Club: Author JM Holmes on “Invisible Man” and Identity

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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