Welcome to my stop on the Africaville blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours! Thanks to TLC for the invitation!
About the Book:
A ferociously talented writer makes his stunning debut with this richly woven tapestry, set in a small Nova Scotia town settled by former slaves, that depicts several generations of one family bound together and torn apart by blood, faith, time, and fate.
Vogue : Best Books to Read This Winter
Structured as a triptych, Africaville chronicles the lives of three generations of the Sebolt family—Kath Ella, her son Omar/Etienne, and her grandson Warner—whose lives unfold against the tumultuous events of the twentieth century from the Great Depression of the 1930s, through the social protests of the 1960s to the economic upheavals in the 1980s.
A century earlier, Kath Ella’s ancestors established a new home in Nova Scotia. Like her ancestors, Kath Ella’s life is shaped by hardship—she struggles to conceive and to provide for her family during the long, bitter Canadian winters. She must also contend with the locals’ lingering suspicions about the dark-skinned “outsiders” who live in their midst.
Kath Ella’s fierce love for her son, Omar, cannot help her overcome the racial prejudices that linger in this remote, tight-knit place. As he grows up, the rebellious Omar refutes the past and decides to break from the family, threatening to upend all that Kath Ella and her people have tried to build. Over the decades, each successive generation drifts further from Africaville, yet they take a piece of this indelible place with them as they make their way to Montreal, Vermont, and beyond, to the deep South of America.
As it explores notions of identity, passing, cross-racial relationships, the importance of place, and the meaning of home, Africaville tells the larger story of the black experience in parts of Canada and the United States. Vibrant and lyrical, filled with colorful details, and told in a powerful, haunting voice, this extraordinary novel—as atmospheric and steeped in history as The Known World, Barracoon, The Underground Railroad, and The Twelve Tribes of Hattie—is a landmark work from a sure-to-be major literary talent.
Africaville is the story of one family in three generations over time. As former slaves, the family settles in Nova Scotia.
The family members depicted are Kath Ella, her son, Omar/Etienne, and Kath Ella’s grandson, Warner. They experience the ups and downs of the twentieth century, which unfortunately had the family experiencing more than its share of downs, inclding hardship and turmoil.
Racial prejudices exist for each generation, which contributes further to the hardship. Eventually the family leaves this place, Africaville, yet they are never too far from home figuratively because it has become a part of them.
Africaville addresses several important social issues and themes. The sense of place, of home, and belonging is at the center of the narrative. It’s also a story of this family of former slaves’ experience over time and across generations. The writing is strong and lyrical, and there’s stunning atmosphere.
Africaville is a literary work more so than is typical in historical fiction. The writing takes the front seat in this story, and I was enchanted by it.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
About the Author:
Jeffrey was born and raised in Alabama, but now lives in New York City where he has been teaching and doing grant writing for small community-based arts organizations.
His debut novel, Africaville, is forthcoming from Amistad/HarperCollins USA. The novel will also be published in Canada, France, and Australia.
An excerpt of Africaville appeared in Narrative magazine, and his other fiction, reviews and essays have appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rain Taxi Review of Books, The Millions, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere.
Before returning to school to pursue an MFA, he served in the United States Marine Corps, and worked as an advertising analyst, congressional aide, and nonprofit manager.
He recently received a Paul Cuffee Scholarship to the Cuttyhunk Writers Residency, and a Nellie Mae Roe Distinguished Fellowship from Hambidge Center. He has received past grants and fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Colgate University, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, The Norman Mailer Center, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
He is an assistant editor at Narrative magazine and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. He graduated from the US Naval Academy, Harvard University, and Columbia University where he received an MFA in fiction.
Have you read Africaville, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR