The Warmth of Other Suns
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration (2010) is a highly-acclaimed historical study by Isabel Wilkerson, which received the National Book Award for Nonfiction. It is about the The Great Migration and the Second Great Migration, the movement of African Americans out of the Southern United States to the Midwest, Northeast and West between 1915 and 1970. The book intertwines a general history and statistical analysis of the entire period. It includes the biographies of three persons: a sharecropper's wife who left Mississippi in the 1930s for Chicago, named Ida Mae Brandon Gladney; an agricultural worker, George Swanson Starling, who left Florida for New York City in the 1940s; and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster, a doctor who left Louisiana in the early 1950s, for Los Angeles.
The main title of the book is taken from a poem by author Richard Wright, who himself moved from the south to Chicago, in the 1920s. Parts of that poem, published in Black Boy, 1945, with emphasis added, are excerpted here:
. . .I was taking a part of the South
To transplant in alien soil...
Respond to the warmth of other suns
And, perhaps, to bloom.
Awards and honors
- New York Times bestseller (Nonfiction, 2010)
- New York Times Best Books of the Year (2010)
- New York Times Notable Book of the Year (Nonfiction, 2010)
- Salon Book Award (Nonfiction, 2010)
- Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Best Books (2010)
- National Book Critics Circle Award (Nonfiction, 2011)
- ALA Notable Book (2011)
- Dayton Literary Peace Prize (Non-Fiction runner-up, 2011)
- Anisfield-Wolf Book Award (2011)
- Heartland Prize (Nonfiction, 2011)
- Mark Lynton History Prize (2011)
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, Random House (hardcover, first), ISBN 978-0-679-44432-9
- Paperback, electronic book, and audiobook editions
- The Warmth of Other Suns, official book website
- Random House Publisher's website, with Synopsis
- C-SPAN Q&A interview with Wilkerson on The Warmth of Other Suns, September 26, 2010