Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Freeman’s: Family

The Best New Writing on Family

by John Freeman

The second issue of a new anthology from renowned literary critic John Freeman, featuring never-before-published stories, essays, and poetry by Claire Messud, Aminatta Forna, Marlon James, Alexander Chee, Aleksandar Hemon, Tracy K. Smith, and more.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date August 02, 2016
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2526-2
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

“There’s an illustrious new literary journal in town . . . [with] fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by new voices and literary heavyweights . . . alike.” —Vogue.com

Freeman’s: Family is the second literary anthology in the series reviewers are calling “bold” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) and “refreshing” (Chicago Literati). Following a debut issue on the theme of “Arrival,” Freeman circles a new topic whose definition is constantly challenged by the best of our writers: family.

In an essay called “Crossroads,” Aminatta Forna muses on the legacy of slavery as she settles her family in Washington, DC, where she is constantly accused of cutting in line whenever she stands next to her white husband. Families are hardly stable entities, so many writers discover. Award-winning novelist Claire Vaye Watkins delivers a stunning portrait of a woman in the throes of postpartum depression. Booker Prize winner Marlon James takes the focus off absent fathers to write about his mother, who calls to sing him happy birthday every year. Even in the darkest moments, humor abounds. In Claire Messud’s home there are two four-legged tyrants; Sandra Cisneros writes about her extended family of past lovers; and Aleksandar Hemon tells the story of his uncle’s desperate attempt to remain a communist despite decades in the Soviet gulag.

With outstanding, never-before-published pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from literary heavyweights and up-and-coming writers alike, Freeman’s: Family collects the most amusing, heartbreaking, and probing stories about family life emerging today.


“The second edition of this already celebrated literary anthology series matches its ambitious intent to an intimate theme. The assembled contributors—an impressively diverse group including Marlon James, Sandra Cisneros, and Tracy K. Smith–offer fascinating takes on the ties that bind.” —O Magazine

“Strikingly international.” —Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

“This is a great tasting plate of the best writers working in the business today.” —Jeva Lange, The Week, “28 books to read in 2016”

“Freeman draws from a global cache of talent . . . This collection takes on the family from within and without, in ways one might expect and others totally unanticipated, for an expansive reading experience.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A themed literary anthology with a compellingly global purview . . . The early pages—taut and vulnerable—set the tone. What follows is less an anthology than a conversation, the sense of intimacy that sharing family stories invites in real life, captured on the page . . . Curating an anthology is more than simple acquisition.You need to listen for rhythms and encourage the pieces to talk to one another, to tell a story greater than the sum of its parts. Freeman’s succeeds because it does these things unobtrusively; it brings together strangers, and builds a family.” —Australian


From “Wild” by Tracy K. Smith

But I want her to be tame.
I know. I know. Different game.

I see her from a distance.
The loud high squeal that spills,

How she stomps, leaps, runs.
It pleases almost everyone.

What small gear slows in me,
Stalls? Is it a matter of damage (mine)–

The way my mother made me
whisper ma’am and sir, conquer my hands

their animal urge? I never ran wild.
Obedient child. It took me years—O, the pleasure

Was slow, secret, rich—to discover night’s
Cold black anaesthetizing air. I’m older,

Feraler, and wrong—I suspect—
To want the same for her.

From “10-Item Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale” by Claire Vaye Watkins

3. I have felt scared or panicky for no good reason.

Our baby is born runty and jaundiced. We wrap her in a hot, stiff so-called blanket of LEDs, to get her levels right. She’s at twelve, they tell us, without saying whether the goal is fifteen or zero or a hundred–not knowing whether we are trying to bring them up or down. I don’t know which way to pray, your dad says. Little glowworm baby, spooky blue light up baby in the bassinet, hugged by this machine instead of us, a gnarly intestine-looking tube coming out the bottom. Jaundiced and skinny though neither of us are. Failure to thrive, the diagnosis. In the car we agree that a ridiculously lofty standard. Haven’t we every advantage–health insurance and advanced degrees, study abroad and strong female role models? Aren’t we gainfully employed, and doing work we do not hate, no less? Didn’t we do everything right and in the right order? And yet, can either of us say we are thriving? We remind ourselves it’s not so bad, the jaundice, the smallness. Erica says, I was little and look at me! We remind ourselves of the Nick-U and pediatric oncology, which we walk past on the way to our appointments. I remember the apparatus we learned about in breastfeeding class that the lactation consultants can rig up for a man: a tube from a sack at his back taped up over his shoulder and to his pectoral, to deliver imitation milk to the baby as though through his nipple. I comfort myself with the dark, unmentioned scenarios wherein that would be necessary.