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Maud Newton Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Proud To Be Liberal(2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
When I Was a Loser: True Stories ofSurviving High School(2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
What My Mother Gave Me(2013)Description / Buy at Amazon

Maud Newton
Maud Newton was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in Miami, Florida. She graduated with degrees in law and English from the University of Florida. She is a critic, writer, editor, and occasional speaker and teacher.

“Ancestor Trouble” is a best book of 2022, according to Esquire, The Washington Post, NPR, The New Yorker, Time, Garden & Gun, The Boston Globe, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Entertainment Weekly, and Chicago Tribune. The book was also a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and was a Roxane Gay Book Club selection, and was a finalist for the 2023 John Leonard Prize.

Maud’s work has appeared in Esquire, Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, the Guardian, Narrative, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times Book Review, Oxford American, Harper’s Bazaar, Curbed, Granta, and many other anthologies and publications. This includes Best American Travel Writing 2015 and the New York Times bestseller “What My Mother Gave Me”. She has received the Narrative Prize, and the Stark Short Fiction Prize. Maud’s also been a Yaddo resident.

Maud has discussed the importance of individual acknowledgments of ancestors’ complicity in larger cultural harms with NPR’s “All Things Considered”, American Ancestors, the New York Times Book Review podcast, WNYC, and many other places. Among other visiting writer conversations and lectures, she was featured in the Pittsburgh Contemporary Authors Series, was a visiting writer at Butler University, and participated in “Ancestor Trouble: A Religious and Political Dialogue” with Rabbi Tamar Manasseh for UC Davis’ Jewish Studies/Religious Studies. Her fiction work has been praised by the New Yorker online.

In May of 2002, she began blogging, with the goal of finding other people that were passionate about culture, books, and politics, and to write about her family and life. Within just a few years, her page had been criticized, praised, and quoted by Forbes, the New York Times Book Review, New York Magazine, as well as others.

Maud finds that the unfortunate first step in dealing with writer’s block has to be sitting down (or standing, or lying down) and putting pen to paper or opening the document on her laptop. Beyond that, however one of the best remedies she’s found for this type of confusion or lack of engagement is to connect to the excitement that led her to write something in the first place. If she finds she is feeling at all weighed down by what she thinks she “has to” do next, she remembers that there aren’t any hard rules for writing and that she can write about the part that excites or interests her the most and dispense with all the rest in just a sentence or two.

She has always been interested in her own family, fascinated by the amazingly over-the-top tales on her mom’s side, and troubled by her ancestors’ involvement in slavery on her dad’s side. And she has always puzzled over what winds up getting passed down in families, both her own and everybody elses. Rather than dwindling over time, her interest continued growing through the years and eventually it hit this outpouring on her book, which is about her own ancestors and about all of her research and thinking and feeling on the significance of ancestors much more broadly.

“Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation” is a non-fiction book that was released in 2022. This acclaimed writer goes searching for the truth about her wildly unconventional Southern family, and discovers that our obsession with ancestors opens up new ways of seeing ourselves.

Maud Newton’s ancestors have fascinated and vexed her ever since she was a girl. Her mom’s dad, who came of age in Texas during the Great Depression, was said to have married a total of thirteen times and was shot by one of his wives. Her mom’s grandpa killed a guy with a hay hook and then died in a mental institution. Religious fanaticism and mental illness percolated through Maud’s maternal lines, to one ancestor accused of being a witch in Puritan-era Massachusetts.

Maud’s dad, who was an aerospace engineer turned lawyer, was a book smart guy that extolled the virtues of slavery and obsessed over the “purity” of his family bloodline, which he was able to trace back to the Revolutionary War. He tried in vain to control Maud’s mom, who was a whirlwind of passion and charisma given to these feverish projects. A church in the family’s living room where she performed exorcisms and thirty rescue cats.

It was a relief, their divorce. Still, the meeting of her parents’ lines in Maud inspired this anxiety which she couldn’t shake; this fear that she’d replicate their damage. Maud saw similar anxieties in the lives of friends, in the works of artists and writers that she admired. Maud, just as obsessive in her own way as her parents, researched her own genealogy, her grandpa’s marriages, the accused witch, her ancestors’ roles in genocide and slavery, and sought family secrets through her own DNA. However sunk in cousin matches and census archives, she yearned for much deeper truths. This journey of hers took her into the realms of epigenetics, genetics, and the debates over intergenerational trauma. She mulled modernity’s dismissal of ancestors along with psychoanalytic and spiritual traditions which center them.

Moving, searching, and inspiring, this is a writer’s effort to use genealogy, which was a once niche hobby which has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry, to expose the contradictions and secrets of her own ancestors. Also to argue for the transformational possibilities which reckon with our ancestors has got for each one of us.

Readers especially appreciated the introspection and exactly how Maud grapples with familial bigotry without ever explaining it away. This is an absorbing and dense read, which some readers learned a great deal from by the end. Fans of the book found this to be an often fascinating read, and Maud’s family story to be a constantly engaging one. Her writing is casual yet engaging while she takes us along for her ride, it’s a helpful book that helps you interpret your own family tree better.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Maud Newton

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