ISBN-10:
166509611X
ISBN-13:
9781665096119
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Overview

An Oprah’s Book Club Selection

A New York Times Book Everyone Will Be Talking About

“This sweeping, brilliant and beautiful narrative is at once a love song to Black girlhood, family, history, joy, pain… and so much more. In Jeffers' deft hands, the story of race and love in America becomes the great American novel.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone and Another Brooklyn

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • An Indie Next Pick • A People 5 Best Books of the Summer • A Good Morning America 15 Summer Book Club Picks • An Essence Best Book of the Summer • A Time 11 Best Books of the Month • A Washington Post 10 Books of the Month • A CNN Best Book of the Month • A Ms. Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Goodreads Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Book Page Writer to Watch • A USA Today Hottest Summer Book • A Chicago Tribune Summer Must-Read • An Observer Best Summer Book • A Millions Most Anticipated Book • A Ms. Book of the Month • A BiblioLifestyle Most Anticipated Literary Book of the Summer • A Deep South Best Book of the Summer • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award


The 2020 National Book Award–nominated poet makes her fiction debut with this magisterial epic—an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer—that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era.

The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans—the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers—Ailey carries Du Bois’s Problem on her shoulders.

Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead.

To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781665096119
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/24/2021
Sales rank: 347,075
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 5.70(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is a fiction writer, poet, and essayist. She is the author of five poetry collections, including the 2020 collection The Age of Phillis, which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry and was longlisted for the National Book Award for Poetry and the PEN/Voelcker Award. She was a contributor to The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward, and has been published in the Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, and other literary publications. Jeffers was elected into the American Antiquarian Society, whose members include fourteen U.S. presidents, and is Critic at Large for Kenyon Review. She teaches creative writing and literature at University of Oklahoma.


Karen Chilton is a New York–based actor and writer and an accomplished voice-over artist and narrator. She has narrated dozens of audiobooks, won three AudioFile Earphones Awards, and in 2020 won the prestigious Audie Award for Best Nonfiction Narration. Her voice can be heard on numerous national network television, radio, and Internet advertising campaigns.


Prentice Onayemi is an Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator and a voice and film actor who is known for his roles in The Steam-Room Crooner, AmeriQua, and as Joey in the Tony Award–winning play War Horse.


Adenrele Ojo is an actress, dancer, and audiobook narrator, winner of over a dozen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2018. She made her on-screen debut in My Little Girl, starring Jennifer Lopez, and has since starred in several other films. She has also performed extensively with the Philadelphia Dance Company. As the daughter of John E. Allen, Jr., founder and artistic director of Freedom Theatre, the oldest African American theater in Pennsylvania, is no stranger to the stage. In 2010 she performed in the Fountain Theatre’s production of The Ballad of Emmett Till, which won the 2010 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Best Ensemble. Other plays include August Wilson’s Jitney and Freedom Theatre’s own Black Nativity, where she played Mary.

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