THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK 'Deeply moving' Sarah Winman, author of Still Life 'Remarkable' Afua Hirsch 'A sweeping epic ... Outstanding' Daily Mail Ailey Pearl Garfield grows up between the City in the north and summers spent in her mother's small hometown of Chicasetta, Georgia. From an early age, she finds herself in a battle for belonging that's made all the more difficult by a hurt in her past, 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 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. 'Mesmerising... magnificent' Independent 'Astonishing... A great work infused with love and honesty' Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple 'Gripping, gorgeous. A sweeping family saga that is also history at its most intimate and vital' Stef Penney, author of The Tenderness of Wolves LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION * SHORTLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE * LONGLISTED FOR THE ASPEN LITERARY PRIZE New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year * Time 10 Best Books of the Year * Washington Post 10 Best Books of the Year * People 10 Best Books of the Year * Booklist 10 Best First Novels of the Year
In 1773, a young, African American woman named Phillis Wheatley published a book of poetry that challenged Western prejudices about African and female intellectual capabilities. Based on fifteen years of archival research, The Age of Phillis, by award-winning writer Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, imagines the life and times of Wheatley: her childhood in the Gambia, West Africa, her life with her white American owners, her friendship with Obour Tanner, and her marriage to the enigmatic John Peters. Woven throughout are poems about Wheatley's age -the era that encompassed political, philosophical, and religious upheaval, as well as the transatlantic slave trade. For the first time in verse, Wheatley's relationship to black people and their individual mercies is foregrounded, and here we see her as not simply a racial or literary symbol, but a human being who lived and loved while making her indelible mark on history.
In her three previous, award-winning collections of blues poetry, Honoree Fanonne Jeffers has explored themes of African American history, Southern culture, and intergenerational trauma. Now, in her fourth and most accomplished collection, Jeffers turns to the task of seeking and reconciling the blues and its three movements - identification, exploration, and resolution - with wisdom. Poems in The Glory Gets ask, What happens on the road to wisdom? What now in this bewildering place? Using the metaphor of gets - the concessional returns of living - Jeffers travels this fraught yet exhilarating journey, employing unexpected improvisations while navigating womanhood. The spirit and spirituality of her muse, the late poet Lucille Clifton, guide the poet through the treacherous territories other women have encountered and survived yet kept secret from their daughters. An online reader's companion will be available.
In her third book of poems, Honoree Fanonne Jeffers expresses her familiarity with the actual and imaginary spaces that the American South occupies in our cultural lexicon. Her two earlier books of poetry, The Gospel of Barbecue and Outlandish Blues , use the blues poetic to explore notions of history and trauma. Now, in Red Clay Suite , Jeffers approaches the southern landscape as utopia and dystopia - a crossroads of race, gender, and blood. These poems signal the ending movement of her crossroads blues and complete the last four bars of a blues song, resting on the final, and essential, note of resolution and reconciliation.
Fierce and sensual, the poems in Outlandish Blues merge everyday speech with a shimmering lyricism and burst from the page into song. Honoree Fanonne Jeffers sees the blues, what she terms the shared 'blue notes,''' as an important intersection between the secular and the divine, and between the various African American vernacular traditions, from spirituals to jazz. Part Nina Simone, part Bessie Smith, her poems are filled with a sweaty honesty, moving from the personal to the collective experience. This movement is often accomplished through the use of personae, concentrated here in a stunning series of poems on the Biblical figures of Hagar and Sarah. Whether about a contemporary domestic scene, a slave ship, or Aretha Franklin, these are poems that speak to the soul of experience.