River, Cross My Heart
The following excerpts are taken from an interview with Breena Clarke prior to her appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. The interview was conducted in late October, 1999. These excerpts are an Oprah.com exclusive.
Grief, and a Great Migration
The book is primarily about loss, the loss of a child, the grief that follows. It's also about the great migration of African Americans from the rural culture and the rural towns to the urban environment. I feel that those migrants not only left their towns and came to the city and then benefited by the cities, but I think they brought also some of their rural culture to the cities and enriched the cities as well. So that's much of what I like to talk about in the novel.
It was a very important development, certainly, in our country, the migration that happened between the two wars. They changed the landscape of our cities. The cities that the migrants left behind and the ones they came to. And much of what we know about our cities started there. It was a very important development.
It certainly was important in the development of Washington, D.C., which has seen an influx of African American migrants since the Civil War. So I think it was pretty important to the development of Washington.
And I wanted to write a novel about Washington, D.C., because I think that Washington has been underserved by novelists. There haven't been enough novels about Washington. It's a pretty interesting city. And I just wanted to add to that.