Brooke Obie Featured in “Daily Press’ Story on ‘Book of Addis’

Hampton University graduate’s novel tells story of enslaved girl finding freedom

Hillary Smith Daily Press

Hampton University graduate Brooke Obie is bringing the past to light in her novel series “Book of Addis.” She says that’s exactly her goal.

Her first book in the series, “Book of Addis: Cradled Embers,” published last June, recently won the Phillis Wheatley award, named after the first African-American writer to publish a book of poetry. It also recently won a self-publishing literary award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

But what is most touching to Obie is the feedback she’s gotten from readers, who tell her the story of a young enslaved girl’s journey is a symbol of hope.

“I wrote this book to be healing,” Obie said. “To have other people saying it was healing for them — that it’s helped them to identify anti-blackness, or that they researched their own DNA to find out where they came from — that’s just everything to me. That’s why I did it.”

Obie grew up in Gainesville, Va., and attended Stonewall Jackson High School, which is near the location of the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861. Civil War history was inescapable, she said in a Q&A with her publisher, For the People Press.

To accurately portray the story of an enslaved girl in the 18th century, Obie said she chose to write the books in black diaspora vernacular. She learned the value of the writing style when attending The New School in New York, where she received a master’s in creative writing. The course was called writing in the vernacular, she said.

“I began to understand more of the exciting history of writing in black vernacular, and that so many previously silenced and marginalized voices were choosing to write in the vernacular as a political statement, that this way of speaking and writing was intentional, it was rebellious, it was beautiful and valid,” Obie said in a news release about “Cradled Embers.” “So when I began to understand the vernacular from that perspective, it just poured out of me as poetry, as rebellion, as beautiful, as valid.”

 

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