Margaret Wilkerson Sexton and Anita Gail Jones

By sfrye
January 11th, 2023 - 3:28pm

ESCOM Friday Author Series

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton in Conversation with Anita Gail Jones

Friday, April 28, 2023
Academic Center, Room 255

No registration required. Seats are available on a first come, first serve basis. 
Free parking in Lot 2, across Sir Francis Drake, off Maple Avenue and in Lot 6, off College Avenue. 
Click here for a campus map. 

Join us for two exciting author events at College of Marin this spring! In this event, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton will talk about her brilliant novel, On the Rooftop. She will be in conversation with Anita Gail Jones, author of the much-anticipated novel, The Peach Seed. Snacks will be served, and five lucky people will receive a free copy of the book!

On the Rooftop

A stunning novel about a mother whose dream of musical stardom for her three daughters collides with the daughters’ ambitions for their own lives — set against the backdrop of gentrifying 1950s San Francisco.

At home they are just sisters, but on stage, they are The Salvations. Ruth, Esther, and Chloe have been singing and dancing in harmony since they could speak. Thanks to the rigorous direction of their mother, Vivian, they’ve become a bona fide girl group whose shows are the talk of the Jazz-era Fillmore. Now Vivian has scored a once-in-a-lifetime offer from a talent manager, who promises to catapult The Salvations into the national spotlight. Vivian knows this is the big break she’s been praying for. But sometime between the hours of rehearsal on their rooftop and the weekly gigs at the Champagne Supper Club, the girls have become women, women with dreams that their mother cannot imagine.

The neighborhood is changing, too: all around the Fillmore, white men in suits are approaching Black property owners with offers. One sister finds herself called to fight back, one falls into the comfort of an old relationship, another yearns to make her own voice heard. And Vivian, who has always maintained control, will have to confront the parts of her life that threaten to splinter: the community, The Salvations, and even her family.

Warm, gripping, and wise, with echoes of Fiddler on the Roof, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s latest novel is a moving family portrait from “a writer of uncommon nerve and talent” (New York Times Book Review).

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton studied creative writing at Dartmouth College and law at UC Berkeley. Her most recent novel, The Revisioners, won a 2020 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work and was a national bestseller as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom, was long-listed for the National Book Award. She lives in Oakland with her family.

The Peach Seed

Fletcher Dukes and Altovise Benson reunite after decades apart—and a mountain of secrets—in this debut exploring the repercussions of a single choice and how an enduring talisman challenges and holds a family together.

On a routine trip to the Piggly Wiggly in Albany, Georgia, widower Fletcher Dukes smells a familiar perfume, then sees a tall woman the color of papershell pecans with a strawberry birthmark on the nape of her neck. He knows immediately that she is his lost love, Altovise Benson. Their bond, built on county fairs, sit-ins, and marches, once seemed a sure and forever thing. But their marriage plans were disrupted when the police turned a peaceful protest violent.

Before Altovise fled the South, Fletcher gave her a peach seed monkey with diamond eyes. As we learn via harrowing flashbacks, an enslaved ancestor on the coast of South Carolina carved the first peach seed, a talisman that, ever since, each father has gifted his son on his thirteenth birthday.

An indelible portrait of a family, The Peach Seed explores how kin pass down legacies of sorrow, joy, and strength. And it is a parable of how a glimmer of hope as small as a seed can ripple across generations.

Anita Gail Jones is a visual artist and writer born and raised in Albany, Georgia. She is a Hedgebrook alumna, and a 2018-19 Affiliate Artist at The Headlands Center for the Arts. The Peach Seed, her debut novel, was a Novella semi-finalist in a William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition and was selected as a 2021 Top Ten Finalist in the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.


(415) 485-9475

Individuals seeking access support or reasonable accommodations to attend this event may contact the Student Activities and Advocacy Office at (415) 485-9376.


For more information: Spring 2023 ESCOM Author Series
Sponsored by Emeritus Students College of MarinCollege of Marin Community Education, & Book Passage.
This event is part of COMmon Read: The 1619 Project, in collaboration with the Umoja Learning Community.

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton photo courtesy of Smeeta Mahanti