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Tayari Jones' An American Marriage and the African American Odyssey

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Emily Greenwood analyzes Jones’ novel in relation to the tradition of reimagining the Odyssey in African American lit & vernacular culture.

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Tayari Jones’ 2018 novel "An American Marriage" tells the story of a young couple whose marriage is dissected after the husband is wrongfully imprisoned following a case of mistaken identity. Jones uses this intimate drama to explore the intersection of race and gender in contemporary America, subtly interweaving the plot of the novel with the plot of Homer’s Odyssey. This talk will analyze Jones’ novel in relation to the tradition of reimagining the Odyssey in African American literature and vernacular culture. It will also examine how Jones’s use of Greek myth to center black experience raises important questions for her readers about the moral economy of recognition and (in)visibility in contemporary America.

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