Saturday, December 17, 2011

Carolyn Cooke

Carolyn Cooke's first novel, Daughters of the Revolution, was published by Knopf in June 2011.

From her Q & A at The Rumpus:

Rumpus: Daughters of the Revolution focuses on a specific period of time in a specific place, when New England prep schools were taking cautious steps toward integration and co-education. Around the same time, Boston was in the throes of a violent controversy over school busing. The violence in South Boston was after your moved to Maine, wasn’t it?

Cooke: Yes, but I was aware of it. Initially I wanted to write a book about busing.

Rumpus: I can see how that idea morphed into Carole, the African-American girl who is admitted to the boys’ prep school by mistake. It’s remarkable how much the discussion of school integration has changed, isn’t it? We seem to have given up on integration in the schools. Now we talk about identity, which is fine, but I wonder if the price we pay is further fragmentation of the polity. Do you think an obsession with race can blind us to issues of class? Is there a vacuum in the arts and the national debate when it comes to class?

Cooke: I’m really disturbed by the increasing emphasis at elite schools and elsewhere on meritocracy. You look at the Ivy League colleges, which are so racially and ethnically diverse, and yet so filled with wealthy, privileged kids from all over the world. It’s also true at the California state schools, increasingly, as the tuition goes up. It’s called “merit” and it means...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue