Born and raised in New Orleans, MARGARET WILKERSON SEXTON studied creative writing at Dartmouth and law at UC Berkeley. A recipient of the Lombard fellowship, she spent a year in the Dominican Republic working for a civil rights organization and writing A Kind of Freedom, her debut novel. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her stories have been published or are forthcoming in Grey Sparrow Journal, Limestone Journal, and Broad! Magazine. She lives in the Bay Area, California.
“In A Kind of Freedom, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton delivers a fresh and unflinching portrait of African American life and establishes herself as a new and much-needed voices in literature. Vividly imagined and boldly told, A Kind of Freedom is a book for our time. A fierce and courageous debut.”— Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar
“Margaret Wilkerson’s A Kind of Freedom is a brilliant mosaic of an African American family and a love song to New Orleans. Her characters are all of us, America’s family, written with deep insight and devastating honesty but also with grace and beauty. Wilkerson’s stunning debut illuminates the journey of sisters and the generations they bear, the hope they have for the future, and the future still strived for, still deferred, giving us all of this in razor-edged prose that is cuts to the quick.”-—Dana Johnson, author of In the Not Quite Dark and Elsewhere, California
“I give thanks to Margaret Wilkerson Sexton for her remarkable sense of a family’s life, from early in its morning to day’s end. She interweaves generations of parent-child relations to reveal, with sharp insight, how promise and possibility can sometimes yield to circumstances shaped by the limits to freedom.”—Lauret Savoy, author of Trace
“Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s A Kind of Freedom is an elegant, captivating, and generous debut novel. I’m still thinking about how our choices are indelibly influenced by our familial histories, whether we’re aware or not, and how the present connects to the past, especially regarding the societal weight of race and class. Through the interweaving of narratives within a family in New Orleans, particularly a matrilineal generation of sisters—from 1944 to the 80s and beyond—Wilkerson Sexton demonstrates the complex web of fate, and how the demands and risks of human longing can be pitted against practicality and upward mobility, muddying the very definitions of success when it comes to survival and love. Our lives are intertwined, Wilkerson Sexton reveals, and despite our best selves and our most loving intentions, heartbreak is often inevitable. With seemingly effortless subtlety and command, Wilkerson Sexton delivers. A Kind of Freedom is multifaceted and beautiful.” —Victoria Patterson, author of This Vacant Paradise and The Little Brother
“I loved the different generations in A Kind of Freedom, beginning with the parents of Evelyn and Ruby, who seem so proper and clean, to present-generation T.C., a very likable, hopeful character, but one whose circumstances involve him in drugs and prison. I found the evolution of the family to the present day sad but fascinating, and I couldn’t help but root for every single character. In the end, you still feel hopeful in spite of it all.” —Margot Farris, bookseller, pages: a bookstore (Manhattan Beach, CA)
“This is a remarkable book, covering three generations of a Creole family in New Orleans. In the ’40s of World War II, Evelyn falls in love with a poor but striving boy and has to manage her family’s expectations to become her own person. In the ’80s, her daughter, Jackie, navigates how to trust her husband, a recovering crack addict who returns to her life when their son is still an infant. And in the post-Katrina New Orleans of 2010, Jackie’s son, T.C., emerges from prison to try to make something of himself in the eyes of his family and his pregnant girlfriend, only to find the system and old friends from the neighborhood make it hard to pull himself up. Despite the systemic oppression the characters face, they have hope; even though I was infuriated at the cycles of poverty, drug abuse, and imprisonment, I couldn’t help but root for the characters in Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s glorious debut.” —Jamie Thomas, bookseller, Women & Children First (Chicago, IL)
“Superb read! A compassionately told story of four generations in one American family who endure the unpredictable challenges of our rapidly changing society. Bound together through blood ties and love, Sexton’s keenly drawn characters sweep you into a mesmerizing cascade of loss and triumph.” —Carol Cassella, author of Oxygen, Healer, and Gemini