In 2011 Tayari Jones was awarded a research fellowship, which she used to study mass incarceration in the United States. The work gave birth to An American Marriage, her latest novel, which examines what happens to a newlywed couple when circumstances beyond their control force choices on them and their marriage that they could never have imagined.
Celestial is an artist with a rising career, and Roy is a sales rep starting to find success. Their marriage is barely a year old when, during a trip from their home in Atlanta to Roy’s small hometown in Louisiana, Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. The confusion and loneliness of their separation had seemed a complex enough situation, but the real difficulty doesn’t arrive until Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned five years later. Upon his return to Atlanta with the intent of resuming their life together, Roy and Celestial must confront the strains being apart has laid upon them and the difficult questions about their future that the intervening five years have awakened. Whatever options they may have, simply returning to the way things were isn’t one of them.
Tayari Jones speaks about An American Marriage with Isaac Fitzgerald, co-host of BuzzFeed News’ AMtoDM, and will sign books following the program.