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Tayari Jones' powerful novel explores love, marriage, race and the devastating impact of incarceration

"An American Marriage," Tayari Jones' powerful fourth novel shot to the top of the best-seller list when it was published in 2018. It tells the story of Celestial and Roy Hamilton living in Atlanta, Georgia with bright futures ahead of them. They are young, in love, educated and professional. Roy is a marketing executive on the rise and Celestial is a gifted artist starting to get noticed. But, their lives are upended when Roy is accused and convicted of rape, a crime he did not commit.

In this edition of the Talk of Iowa Book Club, host Charity Nebbe talks with expert readers Stephanie Jones, Kesho Scott and André Wright about the book's themes of love, racism and the devastating impact of incarceration.


  • Stephanie Jones, assistant professor of education, Grinnell College, founder of the Mapping Racial Trauma in Schools Project
  • Kesho Scott, associate professor of American studies and sociology, Grinnell College
  • André Wright, co-founder and CEO of Humanize My Hoodie
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Katherine Perkins is IPR's Program Director for News and Talk