The Book Stall Welcomes Author Toya Wolfe
The Book Stall (811 Elm Street in Winnetka) presents debut novelist Toya Wolfe, discussing her already-acclaimed book Last Summer on State Street on Thursday, June 23rd at 6:30 PM. Ms. Wolfe will be in conversation with Chicago-based writer, editor, and educator Kathleen Rooney. Last Summer on State Street is a striking coming-of-age debut about friendship, community, and resilience, set in the housing projects of Chicago during one life-changing summer. This program is free and open to the public.
In a starred review, Booklist says, “In a fictional counterpart to Dawn Turner’s memoir, Three Girls from Bronzeville, Wolfe’s deeply compelling characters, sharply wrought settings, and tightly choreographed plot create a concentrated, significant, and unforgettable tale of family, home, racism, trauma, compassion, and transcendence.”
More About the Book: Felicia “Fe Fe” Stevens lives with her vigilantly loving mother and older teenage brother, whom she adores, in building 4950 of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes. It’s the summer of 1999, and her high-rise is next in line to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority. She, with the devout Precious Brown and Stacia Buchanan, daughter of a Gangster Disciple Queen-Pin, form a tentative trio and, for a brief moment, carve out for themselves a simple life of Double Dutch and innocence. But when Fe Fe welcomes a mysterious new friend, Tonya, into their fold, the dynamics shift, upending the lives of all four girls.
Last Summer on State Street explores the risk of connection against the backdrop of racist institutions, the restorative power of knowing and claiming one’s own past, and those defining relationships which form the heartbeat of our lives. Interweaving moments of reckoning and sustaining grace, debut author Toya Wolfe has crafted an era-defining story of finding a home — both in one’s history and in one’s self.
Author Toya Wolfe grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes on Chicago’s South Side. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. Her writing has appeared in African Voices, Chicago Journal, Chicago Reader, Hair Trigger 27, and WarpLand. She is the recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston-Bessie Head Fiction Award, the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation Short Story Competition, and the Betty Shifflet/John Schultz Short Story Award. She currently resides in Chicago. Last Summer on State Street is her debut novel.
Conversation partner Kathleen Rooney is the author, most recently, of the novels Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, and the co-editor of René Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). She is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. Her previous work includes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Allure, Salon, The Chicago Tribune, The Nation and elsewhere. She teaches English and Creative Writing at DePaul University and lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay.