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“Terrifically auspicious . . . Ms. Greenidge has charted an ambitious course for a book that begins so mock-innocently. And she lets the suspicion and outrage mount as the Freemans’ true situation unfolds. This author is also a historian, and she makes the '1929' on Toneybee plaque tell another, equally gripping story that strongly parallels the Freemans’ 1990 experience.” 

—Janet Maslin

The New York Times

History and Identity: Kaitlyn Greenidge and Bill Cheng

Tuesday February 21, 2017
07:00 pm

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To celebrate its launch in paperback, Kaitlyn Greenidge and Bill Cheng (Southern Cross the Dog) discussed Greenidge’s We Love You, Charlie Freeman, finalist for 2016 First Novel Prize.

 


 

About We Love You, Charlie Freeman:

The Freeman family--Charles, Laurel, and their daughters, teenage Charlotte and nine-year-old Callie--have been invited to the Toneybee Institute in rural Massachusetts to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected for the experiment because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family.

Isolated in their new, nearly all-white community not just by their race but by their strange living situation, the Freemans come undone. And when Charlotte discovers the truth about the Institute’s history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past begin to invade the present.

The power of this novel resides in Kaitlyn Greenidge’s undeniable storytelling talents. What appears to be a story of mothers and daughters, of sisterhood put to the test, of adolescent love and grown-up misconduct, and of history’s long reach, becomes a provocative and compelling exploration of America’s failure to find a language to talk about race.


 

Kaitlyn Greenidge was born in Boston. She received her MFA from Hunter College. Her work has appeared in The Believer, American Short Fiction, Guernica, Kweli Journal, The Feminist Wire, Afro Pop Magazine, Green Mountains Review and other places. She is the recipient of fellowships from Lower Manhattan Community Council’s Work-Space Program; Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and other prizes. Her debut novel We Love You, Charlie Freeman was nominated for the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

 

Bill Cheng received a BA in creative writing from Baruch College and is a graduate of Hunter College's MFA program. Born and raised in Queens, New York, he currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife. His debut novel, Southern Cross the Dog, was published in 2014.