The prophets : a novel

by Jones, Robert, Jr., 1977-

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 20 Libraries 29 of 99 copies
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Summary
Instant New York Times Bestseller

"May this book cast its spell on all of us , restore to us some memory of our most warrior and softest selves." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A new kind of epic...A grand achievement...While The Prophets ' dreamy realism recalls the work of Toni Morrison...its penetrating focus on social dynamics stands out more singularly." -- Entertainment Weekly

A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.

Isaiah was Samuel's and Samuel was Isaiah's. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man--a fellow slave--seeks to gain favor by preaching the master's gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel's love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation's harmony.

With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr., fiercely summons the voices of slaver and enslaved alike, from Isaiah and Samuel to the calculating slave master to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries--of ancestors and future generations to come--culminates in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "The most horrific tales often inspire the most exquisite language. How else to explain The Prophets, a first novel of slavery's brutality, racism, misogyny, and homophobia recounted in prose of limpid beauty? On a Southern plantation eerily named Empty, Sam and Isaiah grow up as friends, then lovers under the watchful and protective eyes of their community. However, when fellow slave Amos decides to ingratiate himself with the plantation owner by becoming a preacher, he slowly yet methodically cultivates suspicion and division, with tragic results. Jones conveys powerful truths with well-chosen words in spare prose. After a night of love-making, Isaiah and Sam "Reluctantly . . . swept the evidence of their bliss back into a neat pile, nearer to where their misery was already neatly stacked"; the poison of Amos' accusations against the boys "jumped from one face to the next, like lanterns." The horrendous hierarchy of oppression is made clear, such as when Puah, a young woman sexually abused by slave and slaver alike, wryly notes that "Men and toubab [whites] shared far more than either would ever admit . . . They both took what they wanted; asking was never a courtesy. Both smiled first, but pain always followed." A masterfully told story that will haunt readers from beginning to end."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Edmund White's most recent novel is A Saint from Texas."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Gay men, Black -- United States -- Fiction.
Slaves -- United States -- Fiction.
Romance fiction.
Historical fiction.
Gay fiction.
Publisher New York :2021
Language English
Description 388 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN 9780593085684
059308568X
Other Classic View