They Tell Me of a Home

( 48 )

Overview

Twenty-eight-year-old protagonist Tommy Lee Tyson steps off the Greyhound bus in his hometown of Swamp Creek, Arkansas—a place he left when he was eighteen, vowing never to return. Yet fate and a Ph.D. in black studies force him back to his rural origins as he seeks to understand himself and the black community that produced him. A cold, nonchalant father and an emotionally indifferent mother make his return, after a ten-year hiatus, practically unbearable, and the discovery of his baby sister's death and her ...

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They Tell Me of a Home: A Novel

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Overview

Twenty-eight-year-old protagonist Tommy Lee Tyson steps off the Greyhound bus in his hometown of Swamp Creek, Arkansas—a place he left when he was eighteen, vowing never to return. Yet fate and a Ph.D. in black studies force him back to his rural origins as he seeks to understand himself and the black community that produced him. A cold, nonchalant father and an emotionally indifferent mother make his return, after a ten-year hiatus, practically unbearable, and the discovery of his baby sister's death and her burial in the backyard almost consumes him. His mother watches his agony when he discovers his sister's tombstone, but neither she nor other family members is willing to disclose the secret of her death. Only after being prodded incessantly does his older brother, Willie James, relent and provide Tommy Lee with enough knowledge to figure out exactly what happened and why. Meanwhile, Tommy's seventy-year-old teacher—lying on her deathbed—asks him to remain in Swamp Creek and assume her position as the headmaster of the one-room schoolhouse. He refuses vehemently and she dies having bequeathed him her five thousand-book collection in the hopes that he will change his mind. Over the course of a one-week visit, riddled with tension, heartache, and revelation, Tommy Lee Tyson discovers truths about his family, his community, and his undeniable connection to rural Southern black folk and their ways.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The brilliantly told lesson we learn in reading Daniel Black's thrilling literary debut is that the power of unspoken love can carry us through life and that resentment, hate, and anger do not ultimately triumph over the will to embrace family, no matter how flawed. They Tell Me of a Home is laced with folkloric humor, mystery, and jaw-dropping surprises that prove that home may not be where the heart is, but it is surely where we must journey to know our true selves. Daniel Black wields a powerful pen, a sharp eye, and muscular prose in giving us a memorable, even haunting story of the ties that bind."

—Michael Eric Dyson

"They Tell Me of a Home is a wonderful novel! There is skill. Grace. Humor. Joy. In the writing. In the telling. I saw, heard, history and herstory, and I saw how important this book is for our community. Welcome, my brother, to the telling of our communal home." —Sonia Sanchez

"I laughed, cried, prayed, sang, mourned, rejoiced…. I lived in the pages of They Tell Me of a Home. If ever we needed to chart our way Home, this is about as close as we'll ever get. Every traveler will hold fast to this home-going road map! Daniel Omotosho Black has penned a fiction that pierces almost every portal to what is real, reminding us that fine distinctions are not only blurred; we begin to ask why we pretend there is any difference between what we know is real and imagine isn't. Mr. Black has written life's great parable! Go Home…and find yourself along the way." —Jeffrey Lynn Woodyard

Publishers Weekly
In Black's thoughtful debut about return to and reconciliation with one's roots, Tommy Lee "T.L." Tyson comes home to rural Swamp Creek, Ark., after a 10-year absence. Having fled a life of manual labor and an unloving family for academia, T.L., now with a Ph.D. in black studies, returns seeking "familial clarity" after years of silence. Even stronger than his need to come to terms with his estranged family-including his tyrannical father, Cleatis; remote mother, Marion; and older brother, Willie James-is his desire to reconnect with his adored younger "Sister," Cynthia Jane. But he arrives home to find Sister dead and buried in the backyard, and no one will tell him how she died. Sister's death isn't the only family secret T.L. will unravel: he also visits his beloved, ailing teacher and mentor, Carolyn Swinton. They're reunited just before she dies, and upon her passing he discovers that he is her biological son. T.L. also finally breaks Willie James's silence and learns the shocking story of Sister's death. Though T.L.'s intellectual sermonizing about identity and overcoming self-hatred brings a self-conscious layer to the novel, Black elevates his promising debut with an ear for dialogue and a specific sense of Southern place. Agent, Tony Clark. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An urbane black scholar feels the pull of his country home, in this debut novel. Tommy Lee (T.L.) Tyson grew up in Swamp Creek, Ark., a small country town where black people scrape together a living from the fields, gather at the Meeting Tree and worship in a small cottage church on Sundays. As a brainy, ambitious kid, T.L. chafed against what seemed to him like Swamp Creek's backward ways and rebelled against his father's heavy-handed, "spare the rod and spoil the child" parenting. At 17, he left town for college, then went on to complete a doctorate in African-American studies. Yet after ten years away, T.L. hears the persistent siren call of his hometown and decides to return, not knowing exactly what he needs to figure out. When he arrives during a hot, sticky Arkansas summer, familiar faces and sights reconnect him to long-buried inner dilemmas about his place in the world and in his family. Meanwhile, T.L finds a new and troubling mystery. His beloved sister has died during his absence, and no one will tell him the cause of her death. Over the course of a week, T.L. tries to make sense of the tragedy, of his childhood and of his family's folk culture. The narrative has a nice rhythm and warmth as old wrongs are righted, strange secrets are unburied and T.L. discovers long-hidden secrets about his identity. He begins to make peace with his roots, but will he stay, or will he leave home again? Some premises don't quite get off the ground here, but the story nevertheless gains a nice lift around the middle, and soars home to a dramatic conclusion. Heartwarming, if not always believable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312362836
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Series: Tommy Lee Tyson Series , #1
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 486,940
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Omotosho Black is a native of Kansas City, Kansas, yet spent the majority of his childhood years in Blackwell, Arkansas. He was granted a full scholarship to Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he majored in English. He was awarded the Oxford Modern British Studies scholarship and studied abroad at Oxford University, Oxford, England. Upon graduation from Clark College (magma cum laude in 1988), he was granted a full graduate fellowship to Temple University in pursuit of a Ph.D. in African American Studies. Completing this phase of his academic career in 1993, with Sonia Sanchez as one of his dissertation advisers, Dr. Black returned to his alma mater in order to help establish the tradition of top-notch scholars who publish and remain at historically black institutions. As a tenured associate professor, he now aims to provide an example to young African Americans of the importance of self-knowledge and communal commitment.

Omotosho, as he prefers to be called, is the founder of the Nzinga-Ndugu rites of passage (or initiation) society—a group whose focus is instilling principle and character in the lives of African-American youth. He is currently at work on his next novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(27)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2006

    SNAP! CRACKLE! POP!

    SNAP! CRACKLE! POP! ALL OF GOD'S CHILDREN BETTER ADD THIS NOVEL TO THEIR COLLECTION, 'CAUSE ZORA NEAL HURSTON, JAMES BALDWIN, LANGSTON HUGHES, TONI MORRISON'S BELOVED, ETC. HAVE COME BACK FROM THE GRAVE IN ONE BODY. 'THEY TELL ME OF A HOME' BY DANIEL OMOTOSHO BLACK IS NOT JUST AN AWESOME AFROREAL PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON WHO RETURNS TO SWAMP CREEK TO FACE THE PAIN THAT CLOSURE BRINGS ANYONE SEEKING TO DO SO, BUT ALSO THE COLLECTIVE WORK IS A LIBATION -- AN OUTPOUR OF THE COLLECTIVE SELF -- A CUP SPILLING OVER WITH WINE-- OF TRUTHS THAT ARE NOT SO FARFETCHED ABOUT WHO WE ARE AS HUMAN BEINGS. THIS NOVEL IS SO DAMN GOOD THAT I GOT CAUGHT UP FOR 12... YES, 12 HOURS... READING FROM BEGINNING TILL END. MY BOTTOM STARTED HURTIN', SO I WALKED AROUND THE HOUSE READING THE BOOK IN HAND. EVERYTIME I TRIED TO STOP, THE SPIRIT OF THE WRITING TOOK MY MIND AND BODY OVER LIKE THE HOLY GHOST FALLS ON ME AT CHURCH (AT HOME REALLY 'CAUSE I'M TOO TIRED BY THE TIME I GET TO CHURCH). I CRIED FROM LAUGHING OUTLOUD. I LAUGHED SOME MORE. I CRIED REAL TEARS. I FELT LOVED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME. HALLELUJAH!!! FOR THE HEALING POWER THAT THIS NOVEL HAS BROUGHT INTO MY LIFE. THE LIFETIME CHANNEL, OPRAH WINFREY, HBO OR SOMEBODY WHO IS SOMEBODY NEEDS TO GET A HOLD OF THIS NOVEL, SO THAT THE REVOLUTION -- CHANGE, THAT IS -- CAN BE TELEVISED.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013

    Odd and Predictable

    In order to believe the plot in the book, you have to believe that there is a town with no law enfcement, no telephones, no emergency sevices or law enforcement in the late 80's through early 2000's. There were several chapters about fluff that have little or no relation to the story. It was just not a good book. Sorry, that I trusted other reviews.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    I thought it was great!

    A story that is based on fact tells me that we still have 'miles to go' in our cultures. Education in our small rural areas is badly needed so more young people are encouraged to succeed. I so enjoyed it I am now well into the sequel "Twelve Gates to the City".

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2012

    CAPTIVATING

    WOW, what a read! I've had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr Black at the local Augusta library recently. The book really rates as a favorite in my library. So much of the book speaks to people and places in my early childhood. I will revisit it again and again. I highly recommend this book for book club discussion.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 12, 2010

    HOME SWEET HOME

    They Tell Me Of A Home was OUTSTANDING!! The book entails history,humor,and culture all into one, u surely will learn a thing or two from reading this great novel. This was the most excellent southern culture read I have read in a long time, it takes u thru all of your emotions all the way until the end that will have u laughing, crying and clapping and wanting more. Dr. Black deserves every 5 stars there is to give and more, kudos to you! keep them coming and congratulations on a job well done.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2006

    Born and Reborn

    They tell me of a home is excellent reading. It tells reveals the history of what makes us who we are. It challenges us to face those things we fear to face and to begin tearing down the obstacles which limit our spiritual growth. I LOVED, LAUGHED, CRIED, DIED and was reborn in this well written novel. The novel had a bit too much profanity for me, otherwise, keep writing. I am waiting to see the next book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2005

    Simply Amazing!

    From the moment I opened my package and unwrapped this book, I could not put it down. Tommy Lee Tyson's story is one that was in one moment hilarious and another so incredibly sad that I almost began to cry. It has been a while since I have read a book so captivatng with a story and characters so vivid that I could feel them and see them as I read along. They Tell Me of a Home is a beautifully written novel within which a myriad of critical topics important to the evolution and ultimate freedom of black people are addressed, tied together in seamless transition. I whole heartedly recommend this book. It is simply amazing!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2013

    It's alright...

    'Perfect Peace' was the first of Daniel Black's books that I read which I thought was awesome. I was glad to see that he had written several other books and chose 'They Tell Me Of A Home' as my next read. Sorry to say that I was disappointed and was wishing that the family would tell TL something so he would quit whining! I will read the sequel only to see what Sister has to say.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    Long, boring, drawn out and preachy

    I expected more from this book after reading Perfect Peace. This book was all over the place. Instead of sticking to the plot and telling a story, it consisted of the main character crying the whole time while preaching and being demanding of others. It read more like a philosophical self help novel than a work of fiction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    Interesting

    The plot had me curious from the beginning. I was eager to find out the answers to the main character's answers. However, there seemed to be a second, somewhat unrelated, plot: the main character's close relationship with a friend. The story took a strange turn in the middle and focused primarily on this relationship. Then it picked back up on the main storyline. Overall not a bad read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2012

    Wow!

    Great story. I could not put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    Thought provoking

    Excellent book with many layers that causes one to think not only about societal norms and values but also one's own culture and beliefs. I look forward to the sequel and Dr. Black's visit to my book club!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    great

    wonderful, compelling story. a must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

    THEY TELL ME OF A HOME BY: Daniel Black

    Ecellent read! Suspenesful to the end. Also sad but enduring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    BEST YET!

    You will not be able to put this book down!

    Adored PERFECT!
    Ravished A PLACE CALLED HOME!!!
    Devoured 12 GATES!!!!!

    COMMENDABLE WORK DR. BLACK!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2012

    recommend for light reading

    Theme not original nor the story gripping enough. However the story is well written

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    A Great Read!!

    This Is the type of book that I love to read. I just couldn't put it down!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    True to the south

    This was a refreshingly great book. Im a huge fan of toni morrison and this put me right in my comfort zone. There are things that happen in the south that are at times hard to believe. I respect qrthurs that can be open and honest with the hardships and bizare hsppenings. A must read

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    This book was amazing from beginning to end ! I am looking forward to the sequel ! this is def a page turner. ! He is answesome author/writer

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2011

    Can't run forever

    The author does a good job weaving a complicated story that keeps you guessing and your jaw dropping as the story unfolds. Good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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