America’s Ancestry Craze: My Harper’s cover story

My essay, “America’s Ancestry Craze,” illustrated with Chuck Close’s “Emma,” is the cover story of the June issue of Harper’sIt’s an outgrowth of a longtime obsession, as people who visited this site in the long-ago days when it was frequently updated might recall. Friends and readers connected with me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram have been posting photos of the cover, and every time I see one it gives me a thrill.

I’ll be talking about the piece and my interest in ancestry more generally at my dearest Lauren Cerand’s Cafe Society on June 6. Details are in her Tiny Letter. You can also follow my continuing obsession with the subject — a sort of miscellany clipboard for the book I’m writing — at The Begats. (Updated to add: my book will be published by Random House!)

The images above are, in order: one from my editor at Harper’s, Christopher Beha; two from my friend Alexander Chee’s Facebook page; two from the fabulous Amanda Stern (with special appearance by Busy); one from my old pal A.V. Cook‘s (holla, Florida!) Facebook page; one from Virginia Hatfield; one from Patrick Nathan; one from Cathy Day; one from Joe Mozingo; one from Liz Arnold; one from “deep Ontario,” thanks to Javier Moreno; one from the redoubtable Jason Diamond, with Bloody Mary; one from Mark Snyder; one from Giulia, at LaGuardia just after midnight; one from my college roommate, Jen, who picked up her copy at JFK; one from the Winter Park Public Library; two from the excellent Maxwell Neely-Cohen; one from Adam Fleming Petty, whose daughter got to it first; one from my my brilliant brother-in-law, Joseph Clarke, at Atticus Bookstore in New Haven; one from my tweep Mary-Alice Farina; one from the amazing Carrie Frye, writer and friend extraordinaire, taken at Downtown Books & News in Asheville; one from the writer Karen Abbott, whose forthcoming book, Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, about women in the Civil War looks so so good, at the UWS Barnes and Noble; one from my great old friend Nelson at a Barnes & Noble in Charlotte; one from another great old friend, Kellie, in Rochester; one from the Paley Center’s Creative Director, Ellen O’Neill (“Glad to have the Woolworth’s booth represented,” she says); one from my old-school-bloggy pal Tito Perez; one from the outstanding Amitava Kumar, one from Darby in Cleveland (another old-school blogger holla), one from the man behind Law on the Fly, one from my mother-in-law, Jane, in Seattle, one from the wonderful Rahawa Haile, writer and fellow Miami expat, from the Ft. Lauderdale airport, one from my old friend Gigi M Simon, who worked with me for years and picked it up at Barnes & Noble, and one from Facebook friend Elizabeth Wade McCullough, who says “the Boston Athenaeum’s copy is looking well-thumbed,” one from Lorraine Portman in Pomona Park, Florida, one from my wonderful (23andme-discovered) cousin Kristin Gossett, in Austin, one from a dear old friend, the writer Stephany Aulenback, whose new kids’ book, If I Wrote A Book About You, is just out, one from the writer and keeper of inventory, Chelsea Hodson, who’s “like the lost love child of David Lynch and Joan Didion” and who will be at Cafe Society with me on June 6, another from Amitava Kumar, in the library at Hampshire College, Amherst, one from the writer Rachael Maddux, with special appearance by Charlie, one from my old friend Erin Kenyon Zack, in Miami, one from my best poker pal, Kate Monahan, at India House, one from the wonderful writer Maaza Mengiste, and one from my filmmaker friend Luci Westphal, from a stopover at the Newark airport on a transatlantic flight between Denver and Berlin The last one is of my cat, Percy, just because. 


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