Grace: A Novel (Hardcover)
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A New York Times Best Book of the Year
A universal story of freedom, love, and motherhood, this sweeping, intergenerational saga features a group of outcast women during one of the most compelling eras in American history.
For a runaway slave in the 1840s south, life on the run can be just as dangerous as life under a sadistic Massa. That's what fifteen–year–old Naomi learns after she escapes the brutal confines of life on an Alabama plantation and takes refuge in a Georgia brothel run by a gun–toting Jewish madam named Cynthia. Amidst a revolving door of gamblers and prostitutes, Naomi falls into a love affair with a smooth–talking white man named Jeremy.
The product of their union is Josey, whose white skin and blond hair mark her as different from the others on the plantation. Having been taken in as an infant by a free slave named Charles, Josey has never known her mother, who was murdered at her birth. Josey soon becomes caught in the tide of history when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reaches her and a day of supposed freedom turns into one of unfathomable violence that will define Josey—and her lost mother—for years to come.
About the Author
Natashia Deón is an NAACP Image Award Nominee, practicing criminal attorney, and college professor. A Pamela Krasney Moral Courage Fellow, Deón is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel, Grace, which was named a Best Book by The New York Times. Deón has been awarded fellowships by PEN America, Prague's Creative Writing Program, Dickinson House in Belgium, Bread Loaf Writer's Conference and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.
A New York Times Best Book of the Year, 2016
"With her debut novel, Grace, Natashia Deón has announced herself beautifully and distinctively. Her emotional range spans several octaves. She writes with her nerves, generating terrific suspense. And her style is so visual it plays tricks on the imagination—did I just watch that scene? Or did I read it? Ms. Deón is not merely another new author to watch. She has delivered something whole, and to be reckoned with, right now . . . It's Ms. Deón's real and rare ability to make reading a felt, almost physical experience—of terror, rage, identification, sorrow. Ms. Deón is a graphic and unsparing storyteller . . . In Grace, Ms. Deón explores, with psychological acuity and absolutely no mercy, what the institution did to slave women—specifically, how it deprived them of the most basic chance to love, delight in and protect their own children.” —Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
“[An] immersive tale . . . You'll believe every word.” —People
“[A] haunting portrait of slavery, love and violence.” —Newsday
“Gripping and deeply affecting, Grace is an examination of injustice, violence, love, legacies, and survival.” —Buzzfeed
“In vivid, haunting prose, Deón looks at one such line of women—mother, daughter, granddaughter—to tell the stories that must be told. A profound work of heart and grace.” —The Root
“Naomi's emotional narration of the captivating novel reminds us of the power of motherhood and the idea of freedom.” —Elite Daily
“Deón's powerful debut is a moving, mystical family saga . . . The book provides penetrating insight into how confusing, violent, and treacherous life remained in the South after the Emancipation Proclamation, and how little life improved for freed slaves, even after the war. The omnipresence of Naomi's ghost renders the story wide—angled, vast, and magical. Deón is a writer of great talent, using lyrical language and convincing, unobtrusive dialect to build portraits of each tragic individual as the sprawling story moves to its redemptive end.” —Publishers Weekly (boxed and starred review)
“In her gripping debut novel, Deón, awarded a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship, among other honors, dramatizes alliances formed by women in a violent place and time with adroit characterizations, a powerful narrative voice, and the propulsive plotting of a suspense novel . . . Deón stays in control of her complex material, from its clever parallel structure to the women's psychological reactions to relentless tension. Readers will ache for these strong characters and yearn for them to find freedom and peace.” —Booklist (starred review)
“[T]his is a brave story, necessary and poignant; it is a story that demands to be heard. This is the violent, terrifying world of the antebellum South, where African–American women were prey and their babies sold like livestock. This is the story of mothers and daughters—of violence, absence, love, and legacies. Deón's vivid imagery, deft characterization, and spellbinding language carry the reader through this suspenseful tale. A haunting, visceral novel that heralds the birth of a powerful new voice in American fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“People will compare this book to Twelve Years a Slave, Cold Mountain, and Beloved, and those are fair comparisons for the kind of time and place here, and the evocation of the south 150 years ago. But reading it, I thought of murder ballads, those songs of melancholy and injustice. Natashia Deón's genius lies, in part, in writing a book that sustains a murder ballad's intensity for hundreds of pages and gets into your bones like a song.” —Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me and The Faraway Nearby