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Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations


Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations

Mira Jacob's GOOD TALK is an interrogation and a revelation at once, as far-reaching as it is specific and personal.

Her half-Indian, half-Jewish six-year-old son has a lot of questions. About the world and his place in it, about how white people see brown people, about whether or not Indians can be racist. What unfolds from those questions is a potent graphic memoir, touching on Jacob's relationships with her Indian family and her white in-laws, how she navigates America and publishing as a dark-skinned Indian woman, and how she talks through truths with her mixed-race son.

GOOD TALK maneuvers through these tough but necessary conversations with humor, wit and vulnerability. Jacob's gorgeous, stark illustrations grant each scene immediacy and clarity, as well as simply transforming the text into a multi-dimensional work of art.

" interrogation and a revelation at once, as far-reaching as it is specific and personal.... Compelling even at its most devastating, GOOD TALK is a work of brilliance."

As a biracial reader, this memoir reads like a vindication. Her story is not exactly my story, and neither is her son's. Yet I had and have very similar questions about my biracial identity, about being a woman of color loving a white person and their family. There are quite a few I'm still trying to answer. To see those questions explored here, in all their earnest, painful messiness...that is transformative.

Not every conversation will lead to a conclusion, or a solution. Yet the act of conversation can be a necessary thing. Don't mistake --- Jacob isn't suggesting that marginalized folks educate the privileged people in their lives at the expense of their own safety and well-being, nor is she advocating for privileged people to explain their already obvious, often willfully ignorant perspectives to those their "opinions" are actively harming. Instead, she lets the reader in on the hard conversations she has with her loved ones: the catharsis or shared lack of catharsis with friends and family whose experiences overlap with hers, and the often painful frustration with friends and family who cannot understand what it is to be an Indian woman in America and the mother of a mixed-race son. The issue is not that they cannot understand, it is that they do not recognize that they cannot understand, and so do not try. And it can be even more complex and intimate than that, when the person in question is, as is often the case, your employer, your mother-in-law or your husband.

GOOD TALK is full of gems of wisdom. It's filled with moments of confusion, shock, disbelief and heartache, as well as humor, revelation and love. It illustrates the destructive power of microaggressions, building over time, and the urgent need for people in positions of privilege to be willing to listen, learn and grow --- especially when they want to consider themselves allies or family to marginalized folks. Compelling even at its most devastating, GOOD TALK is a work of brilliance. Read it.

Reviewed by Maya Gittelman on March 29, 2019

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
by Mira Jacob

  • Publication Date: March 26, 2019
  • Genres: Graphic Novel, Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: One World
  • ISBN-10: 039958904X
  • ISBN-13: 9780399589041