Tayari Jones’ first step towards becoming a bestselling author was quitting. When she left a PhD program in literature at the University of Iowa in her early 20s, she worried about getting in trouble and disappointing her parents, who were both academics.
Instead, two decades later, she says that decision ushered in the best times of her life. “I wanted a kind of life I had never seen before,” she told me. “I was always really attracted to women who seemed to be eccentric and kind of uncontrollable. I wanted them to teach me how they came to be so free.”
I talk to her about pushing back against the unspoken confines of womanhood, in her writing and in her life, and about how a phone call from Oprah changed everything for her.