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Essie Chambers in Person

Join us on Thursday, June 13 at 7 PM as Essie Chambers talks about her debut novel, Swift River. She will be joined in conversation by Ginetta Candelario.

Please register by clicking here

About the Book

“The book we all need to revive our souls” (Nicole Dennis-Benn): A sweeping family saga about the complicated bond between mothers and daughters, the disappearance of a father, and the long-hidden history of a declining New England mill town.

“A powerful novel about how our family history shapes us. Swift River broke my heart, and then offered me hope.” —Ann Napolitano, New York Times bestselling author of Hello Beautiful

It’s the summer of 1987 in Swift River, and Diamond Newberry is learning how to drive. Ever since her Pop disappeared seven years ago, she and her mother hitchhike everywhere they go. But that’s not the only reason Diamond stands out: she’s teased relentlessly about her weight, and since Pop’s been gone, she is the only Black person in all of Swift River. This summer, Ma is determined to declare Pop legally dead so that they can collect his life insurance money, get their house back from the bank, and finally move on.

But when Diamond receives a letter from a relative she’s never met, key elements of Pop’s life are uncovered, and she is introduced to two generations of African American Newberry women, whose lives span the 20th century and reveal a much larger picture of prejudice and abandonment, of love and devotion. As pieces of their shared past become clearer, Diamond gains a sense of her place in the world and in her family. But how will what she’s learned of the past change her future?

A story of first friendships, family secrets, and finding the courage to let go, Swift River is a sensational debut about how history shapes us and heralds the arrival of a major new literary talent.

About the Author

Essie Chambers earned her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has received fellowships from the MacDowell Vermont Studio Center, and Baldwin for the Arts. A former film and television executive, she was a producer on the documentary Descendant, which was released by the Obamas’ Higher Ground production company and Netflix in 2022. Swift River is her debut novel.

About Ginetta Candelario

In addition to being a Professor of Sociology, Ginetta E.B. Candelario is a faculty affiliate of the Latin American and Latin@ Studies Program, the Study of Women and Gender Program, and the Community Engagement and Social Change Concentration. Her research interests include Dominican history and society, with a focus on national identity formation and women’s history; Blackness in the Americas; Latin American, Caribbean and Latina feminisms; Latina/o communities (particularly Cuban, Dominican and Puerto Rican); U.S. beauty culture; and museum studies. She has been a Fulbright Scholar in the Dominican Republic twice, in 2003 and 2016, and was the founding Vice President of the National Latin@ Studies Association (LSA and a founding executive committee member of the New England Consortium for Latina/o Studies (NECLS), as well as serving the American Sociological Association and the Latin American Studies Association in various elected and appointed capacities. Since 2017, she has been the Editor of Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, an interdisciplinary scholarly journal housed at Smith College and published by Duke University Press. 


This event is free and open to the public but we ask that you RSVP by clicking here

Event date: 
Thursday, June 13, 2024 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
9 College St
South Hadley, MA 01075
Swift River By Essie Chambers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781668027912
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 4th, 2024

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