Are you in the mood to immerse yourself in reading a Great Big Chunk of a book? Honoree Fanonne Jeffers has written a long debut novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, that depicts the African-American and Native American experience, both in history and in contemporary society. The book succeeds in being both intricate and accessible, and it’s a powerful read.
You can tell right away that Jeffers is a poet. Her language is lyrical, haunting, and expressive. The story begins, and mostly takes place, in a land that European settlers eventually claim and name Georgia. Jeffers alternates chapters that take place in past centuries with the contemporary narrative of Ailey Garfield, the youngest of three sisters who thrives on her eldest sister’s love while she copes with the pain of child abuse in their extended family. Jeffers also includes quotations from W.E.B. Du Bois at the beginnings of the different sections of the book.
Ailey’s story is compelling, and her voice is strong and sure. You won’t soon forget Ailey’s family, her schoolmate, her college friends and her academic mentors who help her along the path of being the sole Black person in her graduate school program.
This is one terrific read, with beautiful language and unforgettable characters.
Other new fiction by African-American writers includes:
The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster