It's hard to be a consumer of media these days and not encounter the work of author and multi-media journalist Farai Chideya. She founded the online journal Pop + Politics in 1995 (practically a lifetime ago in online years); authored three nonfiction books that chronicle some of the most pressing social justice issues of our time; appeared as a political analyst on CNN and other media outlets; and hosted NPR's "News and Notes," a daily program about African-American issues that ended too soon in a rash of budget cuts by the organization.
Now Chideya has published her first novel, Kiss the Sky, which is the story of Sophie Maria Clara Lee, a "book-smart black girl from blue-collar Baltimore" who graduates Harvard, achieves rock stardom, and then struggles with love, the music business, family, alcohol, and her own stubborn melancholy.
Page Turner talked with Chideya about her journey to publishing a novel, the autobiographical connections between herself and Sophie, feminism and personal accountability, her decision to talk more openly about her depression, and a crucial question for the next generation of feminists.
That journalist Sheila Weller's NYT Bestseller, "Girls Like Us" also features Carole King and Carly Simon is a nice extra, of course. I haven't even finished this book yet, but I just have to gush about it. It's music history, it's women's history, it's American pop culture history...what's not to love?