Ithaca, N.Y. — The author of the best-selling book “The Color of Water” will be speaking at Ithaca College on Monday, November 3.

James McBride was propelled onto the national literary stage with the 1995 memoir but has since been recognized for other works, including the 2013 novel, “The Good Lord Bird.”

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McBride’s presentation, which will be followed by a Q&A, will be held at the Hockett Family Recital Hall in IC’s Whalen Center. (The event is free and open to the public, though seating may be limited.)

“The Color of Water” traced the stories of both McBride’s early life and that of his white mother.

The New York Times reviewed the book in 1996:

“The triumph of the book … is that race and religion are transcended in these interwoven histories by family love, the sheer force of a mother’s will and her unshakable insistence that only two things really mattered: school and church.”

Here’s the press release from Ithaca College’s Dave Malley:

“ITHACA, NY — James McBride, author of the National Book Award–winning “The Good Lord Bird,” will give a free public talk at Ithaca College on Monday, Nov. 3. His presentation, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session and book signing, will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Hockett Family Recital Hall, Whalen Center.

This year’s selection by the college for the First-Year Reading Initiative, “The Good Lord Bird” is the fictional memoir of Henry Shackleford, a teenaged slave in Kansas who joins up with the abolitionist John Brown. Shackleford narrates his encounters with historical figures such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, and the events of Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. In being honored with the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, the judges called McBride “a voice as comic and original as any we have heard since Mark Twain.”

McBride first gained acclaim with his own 1996 memoir, “The Color of Water,” about growing up in New York City as the son of a Polish Jewish mother and an African American father. That book was the inaugural selection for the First-Year Reading Initiative in 2003. His other novels include “Miracle at St. Anna” and “Song Yet Sung.” An accomplished journalist, musician and songwriter, McBride is currently serving as a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.