My Monticello : fiction

by Johnson, Jocelyn Nicole,

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 24 Libraries 50 of 93 copies
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Summary

"A badass debut by any measure -- nimble, knowing, and electrifying." -- Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Nickel Boys and Harlem Shuffle

"...'My Monticello' is, quite simply, an extraordinary debut from a gifted writer with an unflinching view of history and what may come of it." -- The Washington Post


A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a white militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America.

Tough-minded, vulnerable, and brave, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson's precisely imagined debut explores burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging. Set in the near future, the eponymous novella, "My Monticello," tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Led by Da'Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, they seek refuge in Jefferson's historic plantation home in a desperate attempt to outlive the long-foretold racial and environmental unravelling within the nation.

In "Control Negro," hailed by Roxane Gay as "one hell of story," a university professor devotes himself to the study of racism and the development of ACMs (average American Caucasian males) by clinically observing his own son from birth in order to "painstakingly mark the route of this Black child too, one whom I could prove was so strikingly decent and true that America could not find fault in him unless we as a nation had projected it there." Johnson's characters all seek out home as a place and an internal state, whether in the form of a Nigerian widower who immigrates to a meager existence in the city of Alexandria, finding himself adrift; a young mixed-race woman who adopts a new tongue and name to escape the landscapes of rural Virginia and her family; or a single mother who seeks salvation through "Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse."

United by these characters' relentless struggles against reality and fate, My Monticello is a formidable book that bears witness to this country's legacies and announces the arrival of a wildly original new voice in American fiction.

Contents
Control negro
Virginia is not your home
Something sweet on their tongues
Buying a house ahead of the apocalypse
The king of Xandria
My Monticello.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "This debut consists of six stories, beginning with the jarring opening of the satire "Control Negro," all featuring characters who unsteadily long for self-discovery and seek their place in a world that misunderstands them. Johnson mesmerizes the reader with the novella-length "My Monticello," in which a group of Charlottesville neighbors are run from their homes by violent white supremacists. Da'Naisha, a Black college student, helps them flee the angry mob and hide out at Thomas Jefferson's historic plantation home. Although Da'Naisha has been aware that she is a descendant of Jefferson and Sally Hemmings since childhood, she struggles with the complexity of her ancestors' history as well as her relationship with a white man. Da'Naisha's resilience overshadows the weariness of a world engulfed in racism and global warming, her grandmother's failing health, and the realization of a new pregnancy. The fate of the group is implied to be fatal as the white mob eventually closes in after nearly three weeks. This fiction collection is an astonishing display of craftsmanship and heart-tugging narratives. Johnson is a brilliant storyteller who gracefully reflects a clear mirror on a troubled America."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Johnson wrestles with questions of racial identity, post-racial society, and the legacies of slavery in her masterly debut collection. The pitch-perfect opener, "Control Negro," follows Cornelius, a Black history professor whose peers mistake him for a janitor and whom white students mock with racist jokes, prompting him to plot with a married Black graduate student to have a son together and give him opportunities equal to those of "Average Caucasian Males." In the experiment, the "Control Negro" doesn't learn the identity of his father, and Cornelius observes from a distance, hopeful his son will turn out better. Other stories reckon with institutionalized racism in schools ("Something Sweet on the Tongue") and the collateral damage wrought by the trauma endured by immigrants prior to leaving their homelands ("King of Xandria"). The superb title novella is set in the near future in Charlottesville, Va., where the Unite the Right rally has cast a long shadow and white supremacists pillage the downtown area. A collective of BIPOC residents decamp to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, seeking refuge. There's Da'Naisha Hemings Love; her white boyfriend, Knox; and her other largely Black and brown neighbors. Love and her grandmother, MaViolet, descend from the Jefferson-Sally Hemings lineage, and thus occupy a unique position in the group. The author's riveting storytelling and skill at rendering complex characters yield rich social commentary on Monticello and Jefferson's complex ideologies of freedom, justice, and liberty. This incandescent work speaks not just to the moment, but to history. (Oct.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects African Americans -- Social conditions -- 21st century -- Fiction.
African Americans -- Fiction.
Monticello (Va.) -- Fiction.
Virginia -- Fiction.
Short stories.
Novellas.
Publisher New York :2021
Edition First edition.
Other Titles Short stories.
Language English
ISBN 9781250807151
1250807158
Other Classic View