Kathryn Stockett's first novel, The Help (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam), takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962. The story follows three women in the town—a white student and two black maids—who are tired of segregation and racism, and are bravely trying to change it. The book is this month's Books & Bars selection. A native of Jackson herself, Stockett left her home state for the Big Apple after college and worked in publishing and marketing for almost a decade. She currently lives in Atlanta, where she's plugging away on her second novel. The character of Aibileen, a black maid who has motherly love for the white children under her care, is modeled after Stockett's own family maid growing up, a woman named Demetrie. A piece like this is bound to have critics; some blast Stockett for being a white woman writing in a heavy Southern black dialect, for example. Perhaps it's best to just take it for what it is: an honest, poignant exploration of the incredibly complex relationships—full of love, guilt, oppression, and ignorance—between "the help" and the families they work for. The novel has created quite the frenzy, staying on the New York Times Bestseller list for the long haul, including the coveted number-one spot. It's also slated to be made into a major motion picture from Dreamworks. Books & Bars host Jeff Kamin is always teeming with witty comments and good nature, and the drink specials keep the conversation flowing and lively.
Tue., June 14, 7 p.m., 2011