Novelist Jacinda Townsend, Mother Country

Jacinda Townsend, author of the novel Mother Country (Graywolf), and I discuss her new book and the setting of Morocco, alternating POVs, slavery, writing with the senses, and more. 

During her Fulbright year, on a layover in Morocco, Jacinda discovered the city of Marrakech and fell in love. Later that same year, on a trip to Northern Mali, she also first witnessed modern-day slavery: that incident inspired the research that eventually took her to Mauritania, where she met with escaped slaves and anti-slavery activists and began the work that would become her newly published novel, Mother Country (Graywolf, 2022).  Mother Country is told in the voices of an American woman struggling with infertility who kidnaps a young Moroccan girl, and the young mother, escaped from Mauritanian slavery, who loses her. Jacinda is also the author of Saint Monkey (Norton, 2014), which is set in 1950’s Eastern Kentucky and is a love letter to a Black community that has all but disappeared. Saint Monkey won the 2015 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for best fiction written by a woman and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for that year’s best historical fiction. Saint Monkey was also the 2015 Honor Book of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.


(Recorded via Zoom on July 28, 2022)
Music and sound design by Travis Barrett
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