Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations (2019)


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Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.

Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.

Source: One World

Notes on This Title

Good Talk briefly depicts cartoonist Jacob’s past relationships with women but does not focus on her bisexuality or on LGBTQ issues.

In addition to the tagged content warnings, Good Talk describes parental death from cancer.

Read an excerpt at The Guardian.


2019 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Graphic Novels & Comics
2019 National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee for Autobiography
2019 Reading Women Award Nominee for Nonfiction
2020 PEN Open Book Award Nominee for Longlist


Starred review: “Particularly moving are the chapters in which Jacob explores how even those close to her retain closed-minded and culturally defined prejudices. With grace and honesty, the author chronicles how she navigated the racist assumptions of an employer and dealt with Indian relatives who viewed her as ‘a darkie’ with no marriage prospects as well as the devastating decision of her Jewish in-laws to vote for Donald Trump. … The memoir works well visually, with striking pen-and-ink drawings of Jacob and her family that are collaged onto vibrant found photographs and illustrated backgrounds. … Told with immense bravery and candor, this book will make readers hunger for more of Jacob’s wisdom and light.” (Source: Kirkus)

Starred review: “The ‘talks’ Jacob relates are painful, often hilarious, and sometimes absurd, but her memoir makes a fierce case for continuing to have them.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)

Starred review: “A powerful, multilayered exploration of racial identity development and complicated family dynamics. Timely and necessary.” (Source: School Library Journal, vol 65, issue 2, p. 122)

“In the opening chapter, Jacob sets up the memoir’s alternating flashbacks as an explanation to the questions her son prompts within her. How do you supply your child with answers you yourself have not searched your own soul to find in the dark? On one hand, in trying to make sense of the irrational—bigotry, colorism, and racism—to a 6-year-old, she is forced to communicate in simplistic terms. Her dialogue captures Z’s childlike understanding of race-as-color: In his eyes, Black and Indian people are both ‘brown,’ while Jewish and Caucasian people are both ‘white.’ Explaining skin color using Michael Jackson as a proxy is a gold mine of awkward humor.” (Source: Bitch Media)

“Throughout ‘Good Talk,’ Jacob reproduces the same black and white figures, like cutouts you can turn into finger puppets, often set against colorful photographs: a Chelsea street, her parents’ kitchen. Even her major characters have just a few avatars, with fixed poses and expressions. Jacob zooms in and out, juxtaposes, crops. The figures work well as delivery systems for her dialogue, at times generating a deadpan humor, like the clip-art ciphers in David Rees’s ‘Get Your War On’ (2002). On occasion, the photocopied feel dilutes the text, as in a fight between Mira and Jed over his parents’ full-throated support for Trump. Their faces, adequate in prior situations, appear oddly dazed and distracted.” (Source: The New York Times)


The Atlantic: “Illustrating the Messy Reality of Life as an Interracial Family”

Literary Hub: “Mira Jacob Talks to Maris About the Denial of Evil, ‘Good’ Trump Voters, and More”

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