PSPPI header - Margo Jefferson

November 29, 2021

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer to discuss memoir about Chicago childhood

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Author Margo Jefferson will discuss her award-winning memoir this week in a virtual conversation hosted by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Jefferson and John Shaw, institute director, will talk about Jefferson’s memoir, “Negroland,” at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 3. The book, which tells the story of the author’s coming-of-age in the 1950s and ‘60s in upper-crust Black Chicago, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was listed among the New York Times’ most notable books of 2015.

The event is free and open to the public and will be held via Zoom. Registration is required to access the webinar. Visit to register. The discussion is part of the institute’s Illinois Authors series of conversations with the writers who bring the Prairie State to life.

Jefferson, a writing professor at Columbia University, was a book and arts critic for Newsweek and the New York Times and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for her book reviews and cultural criticisms for the Times. Her writing has also been published in Vogue, New York Magazine, The Nation and Guernica.

She also wrote the book “On Michael Jackson.” Her newest book, “Constructing a Nervous System,” another memoir, is set to be published next year.

“Margo Jefferson is a remarkably precise and penetrating writer,” Shaw said. “Her memoir richly evokes growing up in deeply segregated Chicago in the 1950s and early 1960s. Her story is powerful and unforgettable.”

Attendees are encouraged to submit questions for Jefferson on their registration forms or email questions to