Canaan's tongue

by Wray, John, 1971-

Format: Print Book 2005
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 2 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library First Floor - Fiction Stacks FICTION Wray, Jo
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  First Floor - Fiction Stacks
Call Number  FICTION Wray, Jo
Northland Public Library Fiction FIC WRA
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  Fiction
Call Number  FIC WRA
From the acclaimed and prizewinning author of The Right Hand of Sleep ("Brilliant . . . A truly arresting work"--The New York Times Book Review), an explosive allegorical novel set on the eve of the Civil War, about a gang of men hunted by both the Union and the Confederacy for dealing in stolen slaves. Geburah Plantation, 1863: in a crumbling estate on the banks of the Mississippi, eight survivors of the notorious Island 37 Gang wait for the war, or the Pinkerton Detective Agency, to claim them. Their leader, a bizarre charismatic known only as "the Redeemer," has already been brought to justice, and each day brings the battling armies closer. The hatred these men feel for one another is surpassed only by their fear of their many pursuers. Into this hell comes a mysterious force, an "avenging angel" that compels them, one by one, to a reckoning of their many sins. Canaan's Tongue is rooted in the criminal world of John Murrell, as infamous in his day as Jesse James or Al Capone. It tells the story of his reluctant protégé, Virgil Ball, who derives riches, sexual privilege, and power from the commerce in stolen slaves, known only as "the Trade"--and discovers, when he finally decides to free himself from the Redeemer's yoke, that the force he is challenging is far more formidable than he imagined. It is as old as the river, as vast as the country itself, and it is with us to this day. Canaan's Tongue is a work of extraordinary narrative and emotional power.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "From the prizewinning author of The Right Hand of Sleep (2001) comes a darkly allegorical novel set on the eve of the Civil War. John Murrell, the Redeemer, a historical figure mentioned in Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi, is a charismatic land pirate posing as an itinerant preacher. With a bizarre gang of accomplices, he resells stolen slaves. What began as the Trade becomes much more degenerate. Murrell divines the weakness of each of his gang members and uses it to control and corrupt them, even from the grave. As war breaks out, the gang is hunted by both the Union and Confederate armies and holes up on crumbling Geburah Plantation on the banks of the Mississippi. One by one, the members of the Trade begin to die in strange ways while waiting for the Redeemer to return. Wray tells a powerfully dark story that incorporates Southern culture and the wisdom of the kabbalah with just a touch of the occult. --Elizabeth Dickie Copyright 2005 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "This much-anticipated second fiction from Wray (The Right Hand of Sleep, 2001) is more an evil take on Tristram Shandy or Mason & Dixon than on Right Hand precursors Graham Greene or Joseph Roth. Genuine and imagined quotes from Mark Twain, narrative passages by assorted quixotic characters (including the occasional declaration from God), diary entries, letters, criminal inquisitions, etc., are brilliantly used by Wray to describe, and partially veil, the real-life atrocities of the infamous mid-19th-century preacher, horse thief and murderous schemer John Murrell, called the "Redeemer" by Twain in Life on the Mississippi. Set in 1863 and narrated chiefly by Virgil Ball, the right-hand man and eventual assassin of Thaddeus Morelle (Wray's fictional "Redeemer"), the novel details the final days of a curious handful of holdout cutthroats from Morelle's once much-larger band at Geburah Plantation, La., on the banks of the "Big Muddy." As the novel opens, one of the group has been found murdered, and the resulting inquiry unfolds by fits and starts amid an untidy sequence of flashbacks. The dark side of American history has always been best treated by the novel, and Wray does justice to some incredibly rich and challenging material, forging a style that is as loose and wild as its subjects. Steeped in effective 19th-century archaism, yet steely in sustaining the story, the prose is as poetic as it is violent. Agent, the Wylie Agency. (June 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Fugitives from justice -- Fiction.
Slave trade -- Fiction.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Fiction.
Publisher New York :Alfred A. Knopf,2005
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description 341 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN 1400040868
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