Sally Wiener Grotta's JO JOE Examines Bias

Sally Wiener Grotta's JO JOE Examines Bias

While the days of Jim Crow and Bull Connor are behind us as a nation, racism, prejudice and bigotry remain part and parcel of our culture, albeit much more subtle and incipient. As author Sally Wiener Grotta recently wrote in an essay titled "Staring Into The Mirror" (which was published on the Anifield-Wolf website, as well as her own blog), "Prejudice and bias is human nature. How we handle it in our lives is a measure of our commitment to a just, balanced human society."

"Fear of the unknown, fear of being hurt, of being on the receiving end of prejudice, often keeps us in our place," Grotta wrote. "Victims of bias and prejudice, in turn, can become biased and prejudiced about 'those others' - anyone similar to the perpetrators of their pain or shame. But you don't have to have personally experienced hatred or unkindness to buy into an escalating cycle of bias begetting bias, leading to prejudice, devolving into bigotry and cruelty."

If bias is unavoidable, and prejudice a natural outgrowth of our tribal nature, what is the answer? Grotta suggests that we need to keep a national conversation going about race, religion, bullying and other hot button topics that act as dividing lines between us. "..if honestly with each other... and seek to know, understand, learn from strangers, we can make our world something much greater than a collection of loosely connected, mutually distrustful tribes."

To read Sally Wiener Grotta's insightful essay "Starring into the Mirror," go to her blog.


Sally Wiener Grotta's new novel "Jo Joe" challenges readers to consider the sources and painful ramifications of prejudice, bias and preconceptions. A compelling, beautifully crafted story, with richly drawn, intriguing characters, "Jo Joe" mirrors the subtle, ambiguous two-edged sword of contemporary racism. Not surprisingly, Sally's novel is generating passionate discussions and visceral responses from both readers and reviewers.

As James Kendrick wrote about this novel, "'Jo Joe' is a wonderfully told story of a woman forced to come back to her childhood home. She learns many things during this action-packed visit, that it's possible to be bigoted while suffering at the hands of bigotry, that things are sometimes not what they seem, and that tolerance is a dish served out equally."

Reviewing in the respected "Midwest Book Review," Dr. Alma Bond wrote, "'Jo Joe'... is a highly readable book which immediately captures the reader's interest and swiftly carries him or her through a story which is always interesting. It is a valuable book,... about an important neglected subject in American fiction." The Midwest Book Review has designated "Jo Joe" a Reviewer's Choice.

Beyond the meaningful issues underlying the fictional account, "Jo Joe" is also a highly readable, entertaining story. The most common readers' comment is "I couldn't put it down." One man complained that he forgot to make and eat dinner, and another that he almost missed his subway stop, because they couldn't resist turning to the next page and then the next and next.

Book clubs are already adopting the recently published "Jo Joe" to read and discuss, To assist them, Pixel Hall Press offers a complimentary Study Guide that will help discussion group leaders facilitate energetic, thoughtful conversations on prejudice, bigotry and family relationships. In addition, Pixel Hall Press will assist book discussion groups by offering discounts on volume sales of "Jo Joe," and scheduling to have the author Sally Wiener Grotta available to chat with them about the novel, via Skype or occasionally in person.

Readers are welcome to download a complimentary excerpt of "Jo Joe."


Sally Wiener Grotta is the consummate storyteller. Her words and pictures reflect her deep humanism and appreciation for the poignancy of life. An award-winning journalist, she has traveled on assignment to all seven continents and has authored many hundreds of articles, columns and reviews for scores of glossy magazines, newspapers and online publications, plus numerous non-fiction books.

A member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors, Sally Wiener Grotta is a frequent speaker at conferences and other events on the business of writing, as well as on photography and the traditional tradespeople of her American Hands narrative portrait project. She welcomes invitations to participate in discussions with book clubs (y in person, but more often via Skype or phone), and to do occasional readings. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and/or her blog.