Book Cover for A Sitting in St James

Words & Pictures

Rita Williams-Garcia

“Today we’re going to be like the earth, spinning around and affecting many.”


1860, Louisiana. After serving as mistress of Le Petit Cottage for more than six decades, Madame Sylvie Guilbert has decided, in spite of her family’s objections, to sit for a portrait. While Madame plots her last hurrah, stories that span generations—from the big house to the fields—of routine horrors, buried secrets, and the tangled bonds of descendants and enslaved, come to light to reveal a true portrait of the Guilberts. This astonishing novel about the interwoven lives of those bound to a plantation in antebellum America has been named an epic masterwork—empathetic, brutal, and entirely human—and essential reading for teens and adults grappling with the long history of American racism.

Rita Williams-Garcia is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning novel One Crazy Summer, which was also a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, a National Book Award finalist, and winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. She is the author of six distinguished novels for young adults: Jumped, a National Book Award finalist; No Laughter Here; Every Time a Rainbow Dies, a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book; Fast Talk on a Slow Track, an ALA Best Books for Young Adults; Blue Tights; and Like Sisters on the Homefront, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. She is on the faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

A Sitting in St. James is a mesmerizing, confounding and vividly rendered portrait of the thoroughly putrid institution of slavery in antebellum Louisiana.”



Words & Pictures is presented in partnership with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh with support from EQT FoundationThe Grable Foundation, and J.B. Finley Charitable Trust through the PNC Charitable Trust Grant Review Committee

Book Cover for A Sitting in St James


Thursday, May 26, 2022 at 6 p.m.
Now available for in-person seating!


At this time, all in-person attendees over the age of 12 must be fully vaccinated or present a recent negative COVID-19 test. Masks must be worn by everyone for the duration of their visit. You will need to bring proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test, photo ID, and mask. Find detailed entry requirements at


Cost shouldn’t be a barrier to a lifetime love of reading. Your donation supports Words & Pictures presentations and Authors to Schools virtual visits.
The first 150 audience members to arrive at the Lecture Hall will receive a paperback copy of A Sitting in St. James.
The video link for the livestreamed event will be emailed to all registrants on the day of the lecture. The captioned video will be available to view for one week, expiring on June 2nd, 2022.


Do you want to sign up your entire classroom? Email us and let us know!


Carnegie Library Lecture Hall
4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15213


Upcoming Lectures

Liann Tsoukas and Rob Ruck

JUN 20

Colm Toibin

SEP 16

Pico Iyer

SEP 30

Heather Cox Richardson

OCT 28