Daughter of My People by James Kilgo, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Daughter of My People

Daughter of My People

by James Kilgo
     
 

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In this extraordinary, long-awaited debut novel, the acclaimed essayist James Kilgo has woven a richly textured and complex tale from the threads of actual events. Set in rural South Carolina in the early twentieth century, Daughter of My People is the story of the ties of land, blood, and honor that bind and threaten to destroy two families.

At the center

Overview

In this extraordinary, long-awaited debut novel, the acclaimed essayist James Kilgo has woven a richly textured and complex tale from the threads of actual events. Set in rural South Carolina in the early twentieth century, Daughter of My People is the story of the ties of land, blood, and honor that bind and threaten to destroy two families.

At the center of the story are two brothers, Hart and Tison Bonner, and their cousin Jennie Grant, the mixed-race woman one brother loves and the other dishonors. Theirs is a world in which dark passions lead to tragic consequences. The burden of understanding that promises redemption and victory over the destructive forces of ignorance and prejudice rests on the shoulders of Jennie. A shadowy but prominent figure in the stories passed down to Kilgo, Jennie here is given her due. Her strength and dignity, the driving forces of this novel, shine through the generations with the glow of heirloom sterling.

Kilgo is a sensory writer, bringing the landscape alive with an abundance of sights, sounds, and smells. He writes with a resonance that draws the reader in and does not let go until long after the last page has been turned. "This is a love story," he says. "And I hope it breaks the reader's heart as mine was broken in the telling of it."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A beautifully crafted novel—a love story complex in its explorations of betrayal and sacrifice, and one that will not be forgotten. Kilgo's southern landscape is so accurately and richly depicted, the sights and sounds, the smells and summer heat seem to rise from the page. He brings the place and all of those souls left to haunt it to life."--Jill McCorkle, author of Carolina Moon

"Finally, the truth about the post-Civil War South! Every line is a triumph. Kilgo's voice is honest and original. He's the novelist we've been waiting for."--Janice Daugharty, author of Necessary Lies

"A brilliant and powerful novel. Reading it was for me what the best fiction always is: a discovery."--Charles East, author of Distant Friends and Intimate Strangers

"What a pleasure to see Kilgo's gifts for sharp observation and pungent prose turned to fiction. And what a story he has to tell."--Pam Durban, author of The Laughing Place

"With a compelling story to tell, Kilgo obviously spent a great deal of time and effort in its careful crafting. . . . He is spare and clean in his writing but allows himself here of some really fine dialogue and-perhaps his best trait-setting the scene."--Baton Rouge Advocate

"Kilgo's rich language, especially when describing the South Carolina land, brims with its own breath, depicting with an acute exactness the smell, sound and feel of the world that surrounds the events of the novel. . . . Daughter of My People brings to fiction the pure, sensory strength and wonder that has pervaded his best writing on the natural world."--Macon Telegraph

"Packs an emotional wallop . . . Reading Daughter of My People may break your heart. It broke mine. Author James Kilgo wants it that way. He says it broke his own heart in the writing of it."--Myrtle Beach Sun-News

"A debut novel of considerable emotional force . . . A memorable success—sad, vivid, and haunting."--Kirkus Reviews

author of Carolina Moon - Jill McCorkle
A beautifully crafted novel—a love story complex in its explorations of betrayal and sacrifice, and one that will not be forgotten. Kilgo's southern landscape is so accurately and richly depicted, the sights and sounds, the smells and summer heat seem to rise from the page. He brings the place and all of those souls left to haunt it to life.

author of Necessary Lies - Janice Daugharty
Finally, the truth about the post-Civil War South! Every line is a triumph. Kilgo's voice is honest and original. He's the novelist we've been waiting for.

author of Distant Friends and Intimate Strangers - Charles East
A brilliant and powerful novel. Reading it was for me what the best fiction always is: a discovery.

author of The Laughing Place - Pam Durban
What a pleasure to see Kilgo's gifts for sharp observation and pungent prose turned to fiction. And what a story he has to tell.

Myrtle Beach Sun-News
Packs an emotional wallop . . . Reading Daughter of My People may break your heart. It broke mine. Author James Kilgo wants it that way. He says it broke his own heart in the writing of it.

Macon Telegraph
Kilgo's rich language, especially when describing the South Carolina land, brims with its own breath, depicting with an acute exactness the smell, sound and feel of the world that surrounds the events of the novel. . . . Daughter of My People brings to fiction the pure, sensory strength and wonder that has pervaded his best writing on the natural world.

Baton Rouge Advocate
With a compelling story to tell, Kilgo obviously spent a great deal of time and effort in its careful crafting. . . . He is spare and clean in his writing but allows himself here of some really fine dialogue and-perhaps his best trait-setting the scene.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in South Carolina's Savannah River low country in 1918 and based on events from the author's family history, this strong first novel from acclaimed essayist Kilgo (Deep Enough for Ivorybills) chronicles the scandalous, ill-starred love between Hart Bonner, scion of a prominent white family, and Jennie Grant, a beautiful mulatto who is his cousin. For 17 years, the lovers have kept their affair hidden from the disapproving eyes of family and community, meeting in woods or barns or in Jennie's tiny servant's cabin. But then TisonHart's awkward, celibate older half-brotheraccidentally spies Jennie bathing and grows obsessed with her himself. Unhappy with Hart's sometimes cavalier inattention, Jennie is flattered by Tison's interest. But, nearly 30 years her senior and socially unskilled, Tison unwittingly shames her with his clumsy, money- smirched overtures. Overcome with jealousy and anxious to rekindle Jennie's love, Hart is eager for a chance to defend Jennie's honor, hurtling the story toward its defining tragedy. Written in deceptively simple prose that has the intimate flow of oral history, Kilgo's novel gives readers a moving, searching look into the hearts of persuasively flawed characters. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
A debut novel of considerable emotional force, by an accomplished essayist (Deep Enough for Ivorybills, 1988). Kilgo sets his novel in rural South Carolina, in 1918, ringing some audacious changes on a subject that might seem to hold few new dramatic possibilities: the love of two contentious brothers for the same woman. In this case, some of the tension in the telling comes from the fact that the woman, Jennie, is a mulatto and, since the brothers are white, is thus forbidden to them. They can sleep with her (Hart has been carrying on an affair with her for many years, while Tison, older and wealthier, watches in growing frustration), but they cannot, given their own upbringing or the society (still violently racist) in which they live, treat their interest as more than physical indulgence. One of the strength's of Kilgo's narrative is his portrait of Jennie. Troubled, complex, resilient, she is far more than an uncomplaining figure upon whom the two can project their fantasies. Another distinctive element here is Kilgoþs perceptive and convincing grasp of the awful complexities of race in the South in the recent past. Jennie has not only grown up around the brothers, but she is distantly related to them, the unacknowledged result of an affair between her mother and one of the brother's in-laws. The author's nonfiction work has largely been about the interactions of men and nature in the South, and his depiction here of the life in an isolated town, with its decrepit farms, overgrown plantations, and dense woodlands, is memorably rich and exact, as is his description of the complex, often violent, and painfully intimate relations between the races. There's not much surpriseabout the bloody outcome of the clash between Hart and Tison, nor is there meant to be. Kilgo is clearly more interested in finding a fictional metaphor for the complexities of desire and race. His first novel is a memorable successþsad, vivid, and haunting.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820329284
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
04/01/2007
Series:
Brown Thrasher Books Series
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author


James Kilgo (1941-2002) was a member of the University of Georgia English department faculty for over thirty years and director of the creative writing program from 1994 to 1996. His books include Daughter of My People, Deep Enough for Ivorybills, Colors of Africa, and Inheritance of Horses (all Georgia).

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