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4.5 

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

By Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

An instant New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today Bestseller • AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB SELECTION • ONE OF THE ATLANTIC'S "GREAT AMERICAN NOVELS" • BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2021 • WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR FICTION

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times TimeWashington Post • Oprah Daily • PeopleBoston GlobeBookPageBooklistKirkusAtlanta Journal-Constitution • Chicago Public Library

Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel • Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction • Finalist for the Kirkus Prize for Fiction • Nominee for the NAACP Image Award

"Epic. . . . I was just enraptured by the lineage and the story of this modern African-American family. . . . I’ve never read anything quite like it. It just consumed me." —Oprah Winfrey

The NAACP Image Award-winning poet makes her fiction debut with this magisterial epic—an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of HomegoingSing, 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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322 Reviews

4.5
Loudly Crying Face
Characters change and growMulti-layered charactersBeautifully writtenDescriptive writingAddictiveBeautiful settingComing of ageThought-provokingAbuseRacism
Slightly Smiling Face
Believable charactersCharacters change and growMulti-layered charactersBeautifully writtenTwistyAbuseMisogynyRacismSexual assaultViolence
“This book should replace Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Uncle Tom’s Cabin or any other Black history novel that was written more than a hundred years ago in high school curriculum. Partly just because it is overflowing with themes and symbolism that *beg* for 3-5 page term papers to be written about them. I couldn’t follow the genealogy so I didn’t have whatever big a ha moment the end seemed like it was supposed to have”

About Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

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 the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, was longlisted for the National Book Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for the PEN/Voelcker Award, the George Washington Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. 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. The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois is her first novel and was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, longlisted for the National Book Award, shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, a Finalist for the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and an Oprah Book Club Pick.

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