Isabel Wilkerson on the 15 Years It Took to Write The Warmth of Other Suns

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By Mona Zhang Comment

It’s a pretty big accomplishment for a first-time author to land on the New York Times bestsellers list, but Isabel Wilkerson definitely deserves it. The Pulitzer-prize winning journalist spent 15 years researching and conducted over 1,200 interviews for The Warmth of Other Suns, an account of the men and women who lived through the Great Migration, when 6 million African-Americans moved to the North.

One of the biggest challenges the author says she faced was time. ” I tried to find the oldest members of this migration and capture a range of experiences,” she explained in the latest Mediabistro feature.

“One of the men I chose, the one from Florida, was keenly aware that he was speaking to unborn generations of people. He took it very seriously. At one point he said, ‘If you don’t hurry up and finish this book, I’m gonna be proofreading from heaven.’ And he was right. He didn’t live to see the book.”

For more, read Hey, How’d You Write a New York Times Nonfiction Bestseller, Isabel Wilkerson? [Mediabistro AvantGuild subscription required]

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