James McBride discusses the themes in his new novel, ‘The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store’

Author and Novel: James McBride, a National Book Award-winning author, discusses his new novel, "The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store," which delves into themes of race, religion, and personal history.

Rooted in Identity: Similar to much of McBride's previous work, the novel is deeply rooted in issues of race, religion, and personal identity, reflecting the author's exploration of his own family's history.

Character Development: The protagonist of the novel runs a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Pottstown

– Pennsylvania during the 1930s and '40s, portraying the challenges faced by the community and its interactions with discrimination and antipathy from the white majority.

Magical Fiction: McBride describes how he used fiction to create an alternate life for his grandmother, whom he never knew, allowing him to shape a narrative where she is loved and cherished.

Humanity Over Race: McBride emphasizes the importance of focusing on the humanity of characters when addressing themes of race, encouraging writers to explore the boundaries of human experiences and push past cynicism.

Hope Amid Adversity: The author draws inspiration from his mother's resilient attitude towards adversity,

– reflecting on mixed-race families and the need to appreciate people for who they are, fostering a sense of hope even in difficult times.

American History: McBride's storytelling showcases lives lived beneath the surface of American history, shedding light on marginalized communities and their contributions to the nation's narrative.