By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Books Beneath the Bridge, a summer literary series through which the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy partners with independent bookstores to coordinate scenic readings with acclaimed authors at Brooklyn Bridge Park, will conclude for the season on Aug. 12 with Brooklyn writer Ayana Mathis.
In its second season, Books Beneath the Bridge has become a unique fixture in Brooklyn’s lit scene, providing the public with the chance to see some of the most prominent writers read and discuss their work with the Brooklyn Bridge, East River and New York skyline in view. Earlier this summer, Freebird Bookstore, Greenlight, powerHouse Arena, Community Bookstore, and WORD hosted evenings with renowned authors including novelists Colum McCann, Paul Auster and Colson Whitehead, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sharon Olds.
The Aug. 12 reading, organized by Cobble Hill’s BookCourt, will feature Mathis, whose debut novel “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie” was a New York Times Bestseller and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the second selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.
The book plays with the fluidity of time, moving forward and backward over sixty years in Georgia and Philadelphia. In 1923, Hattie Shepherd, a 15-year-old girl, is eager to escape her life in Georgia. She flees to Philadelphia with her twin babies, but her circumstances are only worsened by the move. Her children become ill and she gives birth to nine more – all of whom she raises with an enduring perseverance yet little tenderness. She resolves to abstain from showing too much affection for fear of inadequately preparing her children for the adversity she is certain they’ll face.
As Hattie anticipates, her children confront a variety of hardships, including poverty, illness and inner demons. Their lives, deftly illustrated in distinct yet intersecting narratives, reveal a portrait of a remarkably courageous mother as she makes her way through a changing nation.
The Aug. 12 event is free and open to the public. The reading will begin at 7 p.m. at Granite Prospect, Pier 1 – Old Fulton at Furman Streets.