Super Soul Sunday
Sundays at 11 a.m. ET/PT
Posted: Sun 02/03/2013 02:00 PM
It's hard to believe, but The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is Ayana Mathis' first novel. Set in Philadelphia, this powerful book tells the story of Hattie, a strong complicated woman whose difficult life takes its toll on her and her children. "When I read it, the characters leapt from the pages, and I knew almost instantly that this would be our next book club selection," Oprah says.
Ayana grew up in Philadelphia, the daughter of a single mother who instilled a fierce love of reading in her. By the time she was 9, she was writing stories of her own. Eventually, her talent led her to the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop. It was there that she conceived and wrote The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
In an exclusive "Super Soul Sunday" interview, Ayana sits down with Oprah to talk about the novel that literally kept Oprah up at night. Watch clips from their conversation below!
Before she was a writer, Ayana was a reader. What was the first book Ayana loved as a child? Find out what classic she still can't get enough of. Plus, the book that moved Ayana to cry for nearly four hours when she read it as an adult:
The novel that became the second Oprah's Book Club 2.0 selection would never have been written without, as Ayana puts it, an "ugly cry crisis moment." Watch as Ayana explains how a difficult time at the acclaimed University of Iowa Writers' Workshop helped birth The Twelve Tribes of Hattie:
Oprah says that while reading The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, she found herself waking up in the middle of the night wondering what the characters of the book were doing, as if they were real people! So how did author Ayana Mathis create souls for each of her characters? Watch as Ayana explains her process and reveals whether she decides her characters' fates—or whether the characters do it themselves:
Posted: Fri 02/01/2013 12:00 PM
At the end of last year, "Super Soul Sunday" premiered a special hour of television: Oprah and Rainn Wilson Present SoulPancake. The special, which explored what love really means, was so nice we just had to air it twice! Tune in Sunday, February 3, at 1 p.m. ET/PT for a second helping of SoulPancake. Before then, watch a message from Rainn and see what others had to say about the show.
Posted: Fri 02/01/2013 08:00 AM
This Sunday, Oprah and Oprah's Book Club 2.0 author Ayana Mathis are launching an all-new season of "Super Soul Sunday." (Watch on OWN or on Oprah.com.) Today, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie author explores a few of the decisions so many of us confront in life.
Photo: Michael Lionstar
1. The Choice to Be Strong and Weak
We tend to think that strength is [a] static, constant quality. We think that if somebody is strong, they are always strong. This comes up a lot with black women, especially. In books or on TV, we often see the portrait of the Strong Black Mother, an iron-willed figure who never suffers. This is a kind of stereotype, I think, and a limiting one.
Real strength is not the absence of weaknesses or fear. It’s not the absence of doubt or anger. Real strength includes all of these emotions. It’s when you’re afraid and risking something, not when you’re afraid or risking something. For example, the main character of my novel, Hattie, is deeply flawed. She’s afraid; she is wounded; she’s prone to fits of rage; she doesn’t necessarily understand how to raise her children, but no one would deny that she’s strong.
When you see someone as a person with no weakness, you deny her her full humanity. Nobody goes through life never being afraid, and never doubting, and never being angry.
2. The Choice About Algebra
When I was in high school, English came pretty naturally to me. Math, on the other hand, didn’t. My senior year, I was having trouble with elementary functions—which is some kind of advanced algebra—and basically I said, “I hate this; this is useless for my life; I really don’t need to be bothered.” I was in [a] very angry phase and instead of dealing with my difficulties, I told myself I was not interested.
So...I was failing the class. Luckily, I had an incredible AP English teacher, Ms. Johnson. One day she called me into her classroom and told me to close the door. “Look,” she said, “you need to get yourself together with your elementary functions or I will fail you in my class too.” “But you’re my English teacher,” I said. “You can’t fail me in math!” “I can and I will,” she said.
Ms. Johnson was an amazing woman but not somebody you wanted to mess around with. She scared the bejeebers out of me—so I started working on my math grade. It was a great lesson. Life isn’t only made up of the stuff we’re good at. At some point we have to decide to tackle the difficult and the trying or we’ll remain stuck. (By the end of the semester, I had pulled my grade up to a B.)
3. The Choice to Keep Going
In Catholicism, despair is considered a mortal sin (I’m not Catholic or necessarily Christian, but I read a lot of theology) because it implies that God is powerless to effect change. Religion aside, the concept is still a good metaphor. If you’re in a state where you think even the gods can’t help you, it’s very, very difficult to recover. True despair is an absolute and utter bleakness. This state is different than the various darknesses that most of us experience over time. It’s not just sadness or discouragement or even mild depression. Despair implies a kind of ultimate emptiness, something like a grave—its opposite is life. Triumph over despair is survival.
In my novel, Hattie enters into some very trying places. Her children die. There’s really not a darker place than that, but she chooses to keep going, to keep living, to be among that first generation of people who migrated North and raised their families.
How little indulgences and brutal truths can strengthen you >>
Posted: Thu 01/31/2013 05:16 PM
The best things come in threes. So this Sunday, we're kicking off a new season with three back-to-back hours of "Super Soul Sunday" shows you won't want to miss.
At 11 a.m. ET/PT, watch the Oprah's Book Club interview with The Twelve Tribes of Hattie author Ayana Mathis. (This hour will also be streamed worldwide on Oprah.com and Facebook.com/SuperSoulSunday.) Before Oprah finished the first chapter of this author's debut novel she knew it was "the one." "It was an advance copy—the book hadn't yet been published," she has said. "Before I'd even finished the first chapter, I knew I'd found my second Oprah's Book Club 2.0 pick."
At 12 p.m. ET/PT, watch the premiere of In Deep Shift with Jonas Elrod, an unflinching look at people who were changed forever by an extraordinary event. Jonas—the filmmaker many "Super Soul Sunday" viewers will remember from his documentary, Wake Up—travels to Phoenix, Arizona, to meet Brian Mancini, a war veteran who is battling post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a brain injury in combat. Along with Jonas, we'll see the different ways he has worked to heal his mind, body and soul.
At 1 p.m. ET/PT, Oprah and Rainn Wilson Present SoulPancake is a fun, thought-provoking hour dedicated to one of life's big questions: What is love, anyway? Whatever it is, this four-letter word is one of the most fundamental human experiences, and we'll find out how it affects us physically, how to sustain love and how to give it.
Posted: Thu 01/31/2013 03:00 PM
There's no better way to spend Sunday morning than feeding your soul with friends, family and "Super Soul Sunday"! (Especially this week! We've got the season premiere of "Super Soul Sunday" at 11 a.m. ET/PT, a special called In the Shift with Jonas Elrod at 12 p.m. ET/PT and an hour-long helping of SoulPancake at 1 p.m. ET/PT.) So why not feed everyone breakfast at the same time?
We've got everything you need to host a "Super Soul Sunday" viewing party for this week's double header. Get "soul" pancake recipe ideas, downloadable Soul to Soul games and more here!
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