New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult will be launching a book tour for her newest novel, Small Great Things—and she’s starting it in Massachusetts.
The “evening of conversation” will include wine and refreshments, as well as a discussion with Picoult about what she describes as her most personal novel to date centered on issues of race and power.
“About 20 years ago I tried to write about racism … and I couldn’t do it,” Picoult told Boston.com. “I failed miserably and I worried I may not have the right to write about racism in this country.”
Over the years, Picoult, 50, has authored 23 attention grabbing novels, all of which touch on weighty issues like sisters with leukemia, school shootings, and child sexual abuse. She’s most known for her use of multiple perspectives to layer her stories.
“I asked myself, ‘Why is it different than writing from the perspective of a man, a rape victim…?'” Picoult said. “And it is different because talking about racism is different.”
Small Great Things, which hits shelves October 11, tells the story of a 20-year delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital who is reassigned from working with a white supremacist family that doesn’t want an African American touching their child. When the baby goes into cardiac distress the next day while she’s alone in the nursery, the nurse has to decide if she should obey orders or intervene.
Picoult said she hopes the book inspires others, especially white people, to start having conversations that “make you uncomfortable” because “you’re part of the problem and this is your problem.”
“I wasn’t trying to tell the story of how hard racism is for a person of color,” Picoult said. “It’s my job to tell white people that it is easy to point and say ‘That’s a racist,’ but it is a lot harder to point to yourself. This is my story to tell.”
Picoult said though this is her 20th book tour, she’s excited for the conversations she hopes will be sparked from this novel specifically.
“I really hope people come out, and open their minds and open their hearts, and take away a sense that maybe they can start talking about something that has previously been very difficult to talk about,” she said. “Let’s use this as a jumping off point.”
You can join the discussion with Picoult at Pine Manor College’s Ellsworth Theatre in Chestnut Hill at 7 p.m. Friday, October 7. Tickets cost $40 and include a copy of the book. A signing is scheduled to follow the discussion.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the book tour event is October 11. It’s October 7.