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Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman


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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009

Alabama 1931 and nine black youths fight with white ‘trash’ boys all riding illegally on a freight train. Two white girls cry rape. The ensuing court case found the black boys guilty although one of the girls later retracted her statement. That is fact. This very fine novel recreates the episode through the eyes of the girl who changed her story and an ambitious female reporter incensed by the miscarriage of justice. It is an extraordinary book of race, class, prejudice, anti-Semitism and injustice, powerfully told and really capturing the north/south division of the time, but most importantly the racial hatred, very much in the vein of a fictional In Cold Blood.

Comparison: Jim Harrison, Pat Conroy.

Click here to read Ellen Feldman's post about racial prejudice in America.

If you like Ellen Feldman you might also like to read books by Curtis Sittenfeld, Maggie O'Farrell and Courtney Sullivan.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman

Alabama, 1931. A posse stops a freight train and arrests nine black youths. Their crime: fighting with white boys. Then two white girls emerge from another freight car, and fast as anyone can say Jim Crow, the cry of rape goes up. One of the girls sticks to her story. The other changes her tune, again and again. A young journalist, whose only connection to the incident is her overheated social conscience, fights to save the nine youths from the electric chair, redeem the girl who repents her lie, and make amends for her own past. Intertwining historical actors and fictional characters, stirring racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism into an explosive brew, Scottsboro is a novel of a shocking injustice that convulsed the nation and reverberated around the world, destroyed lives, forged careers, and brought out the worst and the best in the men and women who fought for the cause.


A fine novel...Anyone who wants to appreciate the scale of the miracle that a black man is now poised to be nominated for president by one of America's two leading parties...should sit down with Scottsboro.’ Lionel Shriver

‘An astute history...clear-sighted...Feldman's book should be read.’ Independent

‘A compelling fictional account of one of history’s greatest miscarriages of justice, a case that kick-started America’s civil rights movement.’ Waterstone’s Books Quarterly

‘A taut, haunting legal thriller…Feldman artfully articulates the uneasy relationship between two women… The fabric of the time is beautifully woven… a suspenseful pageturner…If you want to know what happened to the Scottsboro boys, read the book.’ Telegraph

‘Ruby is a marvelous fictional creation…this account of a famous court case that exposed the murderous face of racial prejudice is truly gripping.’ Historical Novels Review

‘Feldman re-animates the drama in a novel that is based on archival records, court records, and first-person accounts but that succeeds overwhelmingly as a work of imagination...distilled with great subtlety and wit, into a story worth retelling and remembering.’ Boston Globe

About the Author

Ellen Feldman

Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow, is the author of The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, Scottsboro, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and Next To Love. She lives in New York City with her husband.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th June 2008


Ellen Feldman

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Pan Macmillan




Historical Fiction
Crime / Mystery
Literary Fiction
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