Literary Hub is pleased to reveal the cover for DLana R. A. Damerons debut novel-in-stories Redwood Court, which will be published by Dial Press in February. Here’s a little more about the book from the publisher:
“Mika, you sit at our feet all these hours and days, hearing us tell our tales. You have all these stories inside you: all the stories everyone in our family knows and all the stories everyone in our family tells. You write ’em in your books and show everyone who we are.”
So begins award-winning poet DLana R. A. Dameron’s stunning novel-in-stories, Redwood Court. The baby of the family, Mika Tabor spends much of her time in the care of loved ones, listening to their stories and witnessing their struggles. Growing up on Redwood Court, the cul-de-sac in the all Black working-class suburb of Columbia, South Carolina, where her grandparents live, Mika learns important lessons from the people who raise her: her exhausted parents, who work long hours at multiple jobs while still making sure their kids experience the adventure of family vacations; her older sister, who, in a house filled with Motown would rather listen to Alanis Morrisette, and can’t wait to taste real independence; her retired grandparents, children of Jim Crow, who realized their own vision of success when they bought their house on Redwood Court in the 1960s, imagining it filled with future generations; and the many neighbors on the Court who hold tight to the community they’ve built, committed to fostering joy and love in an America so insistent on seeing Black people stumble and fall.
With visceral clarity and powerful prose, Dameron reveals the devastation of being made to feel invisible and the transformative power of being seen. Redwood Court is a celebration of extraordinary, ordinary people striving to achieve their own American dreams.
And here’s the cover, which was created by collage artist Ekua Holmes:
Family archives became reference and narrative starting points for Redwood Court: a photo of my grandmothers praise dance team,” Dameron told Literary Hub.
A photo of my grandparents playing spades. At the beach. My sister and little cousin and I in front of the EPCOT Center. The exterior of the house on Redwood Court decked out for the Christmas season. The obituaries slipped between the cellophane of the photo albums, and probably the best written account of Black life. These items launched me into areas of exploration, inquiry, story-making along the way. Being a child of avid storytellers meant that I had at my disposal worlds and generations of Black folk who shaped my family, and ultimately myself.
When given the opportunity to imagine what ways a cover might represent Redwood Court, I knew that as many faces as possible had to comprise the image…that there is no singular voice in an intergenerational story, even a coming of age one. I had provided photos of my family along the way to help everyone see the characters that populated Redwood Court, and sent them along to Ekua during the process. Part of me expected to get an artistic rendering of the people, not unlike the work I was doing within the pages of the bookthe characters being representative/fictionalized versions of my own family dynamicsbut what came back was more than I could have imagined: the real images, the real faces. My Black familys faces helping to tell this story, and entering into a global archive is truly part of my lifes workletting a world know that I live, we lived, we were here.
“As the youngest of all the children in my family, I was the one who heard all the stories,” Holmes added. “I made my first book at 6 years old. I related to Mika’s quest for family legacy, searching through family photos, my grandmother’s quilts and leaning in to listen for the unspoken. We have so much in common, it was a joy to compose the cover illustration.”
Redwood Courtwill be published on February 6, 2024 by Dial Press. You can preorder it here.