'The kind of book that comes around only once a decade…Simply magnificent' Washington Post
‘Quite simply the best book that I have read in a very, very long time’ New York Times
‘As brilliant as it is necessary, as intimate as it is expansive’ ANGIE THOMAS, author of The Hate U Give
A breathtaking and ambitious debut novel that chronicles the journey of multiple generations of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era, by prize-winning poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.
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.
Ailey grows up 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 her 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 she 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.
An intimate yet sweeping novel with all the dazzling force of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is unforgettable debut that is set to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
‘Beautiful … 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