Among The Wild Mulattos And Other Tales (By Tom Williams) [NPR Review]

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-01-04 03:27Z by Steven

Among The Wild Mulattos And Other Tales (By Tom Williams) [NPR Review]

NPR’s Book Concierge: Our Guide To 2015’s Great Reads
National Public Radio

Michael Schaub, book critic

Produced by Nicole Cohen, Rose Friedman, Petra Mayer and Beth Novey
Designed by Annette Elizabeth Allen, David Eads, Becky Lettenberger and Wes Lindamood

Identity, both racial and otherwise, is at the heart of nearly all the stories in Among the Wild Mulattos, a manic, cutting and frequently hilarious collection from Kentucky author and academic Tom Williams. He’s an uncompromising writer with a fiercely original voice, and he has created one of the most unforgettable books of the year. The collection feels vital, essential, not only for the unexpected ways Williams talks about identity but for his brash, gutsy writing.

Read the review from 2015-08-07 here.

Tags: , , , ,

We Must Be Alive: Among the Wild Mulattos & Other Tales by Tom Williams

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-27 21:33Z by Steven

We Must Be Alive: Among the Wild Mulattos & Other Tales by Tom Williams

Electric Lit

Rosie Clarke

In his 1991 hit song, Black or White, Michael Jackson meditates on racial equality, singing, “I’m not going to spend/My life being a color.” However, Jackson’s well-documented, complicated relationship with his African American appearance speaks to the contrary. In a way, Jackson’s transformation from his natural skin tone to an eerie, bleached white speaks not just of his profound personal battle with identity, but a broader problem in America as a whole. The simple fact is, that as a result of systematic white supremacy, many African Americans do spend their lives “being a color.” This troubling issue forms the central motif of Kentucky-born writer and academic Tom Williams’ short story collection, Among the Wild Mulattos & Other Tales.

The burdens of oppression, violence, and inequality shouldered by black Americans weigh heavy. But how are bi or multiracial people affected—the shades of grey, if you will, in the simplified divisions of ‘black’ and ‘white’—and how are they recognized and represented in cultural phenomena like literature? Here, Williams attempts to address these matters in their multifarious forms…

…Author of The Mimic’s Own Voice and Don’t Start Me Talkin’, and currently Chair of English at Kentucky’s Morehead State University, Williams explores in detail the experience of biracial Americans in a contemporary environment that claims, albeit falsely, to be ‘post-racial.’ The eponymous ‘mulatto’ is a term traditionally denoting a person with one black and one white parent, or sometimes referring to someone with mixed black and white ancestry. Not commonly used today, mulatto is regarded as at best archaic and at worst a racial slur, which is reasonable considering the etymology of the word is based in the Latin mūlus, or mule, the infertile offspring of a horse and donkey.

Perhaps unsurprising given his own mixed race heritage, Williams is explicitly concerned with representations of biracial identity, using fiction to consider the ways in which biracial individuals navigate a world that is unsure whether to treat them as black or white. The majority of these stories are located in the Southern and Midwestern states, where racism remains rife, and racial tension is high. One character, in ‘Who Among Us Knows the Route to Heaven?,’ describes his reception as a biracial child in 1970s Ohio as “(o)dder than two-headed calves, stranger than Uri Geller,” and when watching TV at that time, that “(n)ever once did I see a face or family that looked like mine.” It is this alienation that Williams is most curious about, and the steps some biracial people feel forced to take to in order to counteract it…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , ,

Identity Is At The Heart Of Brash, Essential ‘Mulattos’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-16 20:27Z by Steven

Identity Is At The Heart Of Brash, Essential ‘Mulattos’

National Public Radio

Michael Schaub, Book Critic

Williams, Tom, Among The Wild Mulattos and Other Tales (Huntsville, Texas: Texas Review Press, 2015)

“Odder than two-headed calves, stranger than, Uri Geller who could bend spoons with his mind.” That’s how the narrator of “Who Among Us Knows the Route to Heaven?” — one of the stories in Tom Williams’ collection Among the Wild Mulattos and Other Tales — describes himself and his brother, growing up in the suburbs of Ohio in the early 1970s.

What sets them apart is their heritage. Their father is black and their mother is white, and they’re not allowed to forget it. The narrator’s white schoolmates admire his athleticism, but, he recalls, “when I brought to lunch fried chicken or napped in history, they chuckled quietly and nodded at each other in affirmation that their parents and the TV were right about black folk.” As for his black friends: “[I]f I professed an admiration, say, for the music of Supertramp … they aimed at me the barbs their parents had taught them: ‘Tom’ and ‘Traitor.’ ”

For many Americans, the experience of being multiracial in a society obsessed with neat, arbitrary categories is a no-win situation. That’s not just because of the prejudice they face, whether it comes in the form of unvarnished racism or willful ignorance. It also has a lot to do with a society that urges them to integrate, but slaps them down any time they dare express their identity in a way that seems right to them…

Read the entire book review here.

Tags: , , ,

Tom Williams: The TNB Self-Interview

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-09 05:20Z by Steven

Tom Williams: The TNB Self-Interview

The Nervous Breakdown

Tom Williams, Professor of English
Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky

You’re a hard guy to track down.

I know, I know. I’m sorry. I just have a lot of obligations and duties—many roles to play.

What roles?

Husband, father, son, brother, department chair, mentor, friend, book reviewer, writer, etc.

So, mulattos, eh?


Isn’t that kind of a politically incorrect term?

Probably, but then again, these days, what is the best way to refer to a person, like me, like many of the characters in my book, men and women who have a black parent and a white parent? Biracial—which I’ve used more than once—is simply too generic; mixed race has always struck me as sloppy. What’s that leave? Half-caste? Halfie? Multiculti? After a while, mulatto starts looking pretty good again…

Read the entire (self-)interview here.

Tags: , ,

Among The Wild Mulattos and Other Tales

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2015-08-08 19:40Z by Steven

Among The Wild Mulattos and Other Tales

Texas Review Press
192 pages
5.5 x 6.5
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-68003-018-1

Tom Williams, Professor of English
Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky

Set in the suburbs and cities of the Midwest, Mid-South, and Texas, these stories explore the lives of characters biracial, black, white, and all sorts of in-between. The intersections and collisions of contemporary life are in full effect here, where the distinctions between fast food and fine art, noble and naked ambitions, reality and reality shows have become impossible to distinguish. Read these stories and understand why Steve Yarbrough said Williams “writes like Paul Auster if he were funnier or like Stanley Elkin might have if he’d ever been able to stop laughing.”

Tags: ,