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The Prophets

Robert Jones Jr.

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Headline
12 January 2021
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- With elements of spiritualism and with lyrical prose, Robert Jones Jr recounts a story of rebellion that comes at great cost. The tender and loving bond between Samuel and Isaiah; the survival strategies of Maggie, Essie, Be Auntie and Adam the mulatto son; the perverse hypocrisy of the landowner Paul, his wife Ruth and their son Timothy; the damaged cruelty of James the foreman; the misguided and ultimately destructive self-interest of Amos. All these elements combine for a story that is deeply sad, as the history we know it to be, but also deeply human as we are reminded of the travesty of slavery and the views that enable it. We are also reminded of the deep injury to the psyche of those living with this in their ancestral past. Lest we forget. Craig Kirchner

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‘How devastating and glorious this is. Epic in its scale, intimate in its force, and lyrical in its beauty. The Prophets shakes right-down to the bone what the American novel is, should do, and can be. That shuffling sound you hear is Morrison, Baldwin, and Angelou whooping and hollering both in pride, and wonder.’ Marlon James⁠, Booker Prize winner 2015, A Brief History of Seven Killings

'Rarely is a book this finely wrought, the lives and histories it holds so tenderly felt, and rendered unforgettably true' Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose of Zora Neale Hurston to characterise the forceful, enduring bond of love, and what happens when brutality threatens the purest form of serenity.

The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love - away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs - where they can be alone together.

But, Amos - a fellow slave - has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul's gospel, he betrays them.

The culminating pages of The Prophets summon a choral voice of those who have suffered in silence, with blistering humanity, as the day of reckoning arrives at the Halifax plantation. Love, in all its permutations, is the discovery at the heart of Robert Jones Jr's breathtaking debut, The Prophets.
By:   Robert Jones Jr.
Imprint:   Headline
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 32mm
Weight:   480g
ISBN:   9781529405729
ISBN 10:   1529405726
Pages:   400
Publication Date:   12 January 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Robert Jones, Jr. is a writer from Brooklyn, N.Y. He earned both his B.F.A. in creative writing and M.F.A. in fiction from Brooklyn College. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Essence, Gawker, and The Grio. He is the creator of the social justice social media community, Son of Baldwin, which can be found on Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Medium, Tumblr, and Twitter. He is also currently working on his second novel.

Reviews for The Prophets

'What a rare marvel this book is. The Prophets fashions an epic so rich in erudition, wisdom, clarity and power, so full of hard-earned yet too-brief joys, that it reaffirms for me literature's place as both balm and scalpel for the mind and soul. You can feel the decades of thinking embedded not only in these sentences but in how they question and build a world shamefully amputated from textbooks. Rarely is a book this finely wrought, the lives and histories it holds so tenderly felt, and rendered unforgettably true' - Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous 'In The Prophets, Robert Jones, Jr.'s lens is at once epic and microscopic, equally capable of evoking historical crises and interpersonal ones. Painfully harsh and painfully tender, this inventive, kaleidoscopic love story is a marvel' Helen Phillips, author of The Need 'I've loved the writing of Robert Jones, Jr., for years, and The Prophets is an absolute triumph, a symphonic evocation of the heights and depths of pain, joy, and love' R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries 'The Prophets is easily the most superb tutorial in writing and loving I have ever read. I'm convinced Morrison, Baldwin, and Bambara sat around sipping wine one night, talking about the day we'd read an offering like The Prophets. Robert Jones, Jr. is a once-in-a-generation cultural worker whose art thankfully will be imitated for generations' Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir


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