Alice McDermott in conversation with Tayari Jones - Absolution

Alice McDermott in conversation with Tayari Jones - Absolution

Thursday, Nov 02, 2023 7:00 PM

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
441 John Lewis Freedom Parkway, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30307

A riveting account of women's lives on the margins of the Vietnam War, from the renowned winner of the National Book Award.

A Cappella Books is honored to welcome author Alice McDermott to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library to discuss her highly anticipated new novel, "Absolution," on Thursday, November 2, 2023, at 7 PM. McDermott will appear in conversation with Atlanta's Tayari Jones, National Book Award nominee and author of the New York Times bestseller, "An American Marriage."

This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited at The Carter Library. To ensure a seat for this program, you must pre-purchase a signed copy of "Absolution" via the link below. Customers who preorder the book will automatically be added to our reserved seating list. Please choose "in-store pick-up" at checkout to receive your book at the event.

Pre-show Author Meet & Greet for A Cappella Choir Members

All members of our A Cappella Choir who pre-purchase a copy of "Absolution" are invited, along with a guest, to our meet & greet with Alice McDermott at Manuel's Tavern from 5:30-6:30 PM. Also, you will enjoy preferred seating at the Carter Library event.

Not a member? If you join the A Cappella Choir, at any level, between now and November 2, you and a guest are invited to attend this reception. Members will have a chance to meet Ms. McDermott, have their copy of "Absolution" signed and personalized, and take a photo with her ahead of the book discussion at 7 PM. "Absolution" will be the first purchase out of your new Choir account, and we will have your book at the reception.

Space will be limited, so we request that all attendees RSVP by phone (404.681.5128) or email ( Sign up for the A Cappella Choir on our website here.

About the Book

You have no idea what it was like. For us. The women, I mean. The wives.

American women—American wives—have been mostly minor characters in the literature of the Vietnam War, but in "Absolution," they take center stage. Tricia is a shy newlywed, married to a rising attorney on loan to navy intelligence. Charlene is a practiced corporate spouse and mother of three, a beauty and a bully. In Saigon in 1963, the two women form a wary alliance as they balance the era's mandate to be "helpmeets" to their ambitious husbands with their own, inchoate impulse to "do good" for the people of Vietnam.

Sixty years later, Charlene's daughter, spurred by an encounter with an aging Vietnam vet, reaches out to Tricia. Together, they look back at their time in Saigon, taking wry account of that pivotal year and of Charlene's altruistic machinations, and discovering as they do how their own lives as women on the periphery—of politics, of history, of war, of their husbands' convictions—have been shaped and burdened by the same sort of unintended consequences that followed America's tragic interference in Southeast Asia.

A virtuosic new novel from Alice McDermott, one of our most observant, most affecting writers—about folly and grace, obligation, sacrifice, and, finally, the quest for absolution in a broken world.

About the Author

Alice McDermott is the author of several novels, including "The Ninth Hour"; "Someone"; "After This"; "Child of My Heart"; "Charming Billy," winner of the 1998 National Book Award; and "At Weddings and Wakes"—all published by FSG. "That Night," "At Weddings and Wakes," and "After This" were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and elsewhere. For more than two decades, she was the Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the faculty at the Sewanee Writers Conference. McDermott lives with her family outside Washington, D.C.

About the Conversation Partner

New York Times best-selling author Tayari Jones is the author of four novels, most recently "An American Marriage." Published in 2018, "An American Marriage" is an Oprah’s Book Club Selection and also appeared on Barack Obama’s summer reading list as well as his year-end roundup. The novel was awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize), Aspen Words Prize and an NAACP Image Award. It has been published in two dozen countries.

Jones, a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow, has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship, and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Her third novel, "Silver Sparrow," was added to the NEA Big Read Library of classics in 2016.

Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.