Art & Kinship:  Emily Raboteau’s Lessons For Survival

The writer Emily Raboteau, seated, looks at her ancestor wall.

As promised, if a little late: the first subject of my new Art & Kinship series is Emily Raboteau, whose work I’ve been reading with admiration for almost two decades. Her new book—Lessons for Survival: Mothering Against “The Apocalypse”—is out today. In my latest newsletter, some thoughts on her work broadly and this book in particular, along with photos of Emily and her ancestor wall, and her reflections on creating this memorial to them after the passing of her dad as she wrote.

This series is part of my free newsletter, where I usually post links and riffs on ancestor trouble, broadly construed, along with newsy updates, every month or so. These dispatches will continue, with the Art & Kinship series interspersed between them. That’s the plan, anyhow. Here’s the preamble:

Emotional recurrences in families have fascinated me as long as I can remember. As I explain in Ancestor Trouble, “the more I feed my fixations, the sooner they tend to wither, but this one tends to permeate my perception of humanity. I often think family patterns are the primary existential conundrum we all have in common, apart from death and basic needs like food and shelter—but, then, questions of sustenance and longevity are intensely tangled up with our ancestors, too.” Nothing energizes me more than pondering the layered, wide-ranging implications of kinship and how family echoes bubble up in uncanny synchronicities and some of the most deeply resonant art. It’s in that spirit that I’m returning to my earliest online impulses, writing once a month or so about writers and their books as they (in my mind, at least) connect to these preoccupations.


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