Inspired by her viral BuzzFeed piece '37 Difficult Questions from My Mixed-Raced Son', Mira Jacob's Good Talk documents her life and experience in contemporary America. Jacob relates awakward questions from her son, uncomfortable relationship advice from her parents, and unpleasant conversations with her Trump-supporting in-laws with humour as well as exasperation. Good Talk is a moving and personal memoir that will resonate with many.
Mira Jacob talks exclusively to Foyles about creating Good Talk below, and we have some extracts from the book.
Can you tell us a little about your inspiration for Good Talk and the subjects you discuss?
Good Talk is a series of conversations from my own life that I drew —the ones that rumble around in my head for years afterward—never quite finished, but always telling me some bit of who I am. It’s also about my young son realizing he was brown in the same moment that his paternal grandparents became avid Trump supporters.
Did you always conceive it as a graphic memoir, and did this present any particular challenges?
My son Z’s questions as he realized his colour were sometimes hilarious (“Is Michael Jackson’s skin like mine?”) and sometimes devastating (“Are white people afraid of brown people?”) and when I tried to write them in essay form, the disparity set me up to not be believed. When I drew the conversations, however, they just made sense. Or as much sense as any conversation makes, at any rate.
Has writing Good Talk been a cathartic experience for you?
More than cathartic, I would say it was a protective experience for me. It allowed me to breathe through my first years in Trump’s America and write with real urgency, to question how and why things had come to pass, and look for a future in which my son and I could be safe, and valued, and loved by our country.
Mira Jacob is the author of the novel The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing, the co-founder of the Brooklyn literary night Pete's Reading Series and has contributed writings and drawings to the New York Times, Vogue, the Daily Telegraph and Shondaland. She teaches at NYU and the New School and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.