Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home--A Memoir
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Pig Candy is the poignant and often comical story of a grown daughter getting to know her dying father in his last months. During a series of visits with her father to the South he'd escaped as a young black man, Lise Funderburg, the mixed-race author of the acclaimed Black, White, Other, comes to understand his rich and difficult background and the conflicting choices he has had to make throughout his life.
Lise Funderburg is a child of the '60s, a white-looking mixed-race girl raised in an integrated Philadelphia neighborhood. As a child, she couldn't imagine what had made her father so strict, demanding, and elusive; about his past she knew only that he had grown up in the Jim Crow South and fled its brutal oppression as a young man. Then, just as she hits her forties, her father is diagnosed with advanced and terminal cancer -- an event that leads father and daughter together on a stream of pilgrimages to his hometown in rural Jasper County, Georgia. As her father's escort, proxy, and, finally, nurse, Funderburg encounters for the first time the fragrant landscape and fraught society -- and the extraordinary food -- of his childhood.
In succulent, evocative, and sometimes tart prose, the author brings to life a fading rural South of pecan groves, family-run farms, and pork-laden country cuisine. She chronicles small-town relationships that span generations, the dismantling of her own assumptions about when race does and doesn't matter, and the quiet segregation that persists to this day. As Funderburg discovers the place and people her father comes from, she also, finally, gets to know her magnetic, idiosyncratic father himself. Her account of their thorny but increasingly close relationship is full of warmth, humor, and disarming candor. In one of his last grand actsFunderburg's father recruits his children, neighbors, and friends to throw a pig roast -- an unforgettable meal that caps an unforgettable portrait of a man enjoying his life and loved ones right up through his final days.
Pig Candy takes readers on a stunning journey that becomes a universal investigation of identity and a celebration of the human will, familial love, and, ultimately, life itself.
Free Press, 9781416547662, 320pp.
Publication Date: May 13, 2008