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All Aunt Hagar's Children Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 29, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Following the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Known World (2003), Jones offers a complex, sometimes somber collection of 14 short stories, four of which have appeared in the New Yorker. As in his previous collection of short fiction, Lost in the City (1992), Jones centers his storytelling on his native Washington, D.C. Here, though, Jones broadens his chronological scope to encompass virtually the entire 20th century and a wide range of experiences and African-American perspectives, from a man who has kept the secret of his adultery for 45 years, to another whose most difficult task on leaving prison for murder is having dinner with his brother's family. Often, Jones presents characters who have been away from the South long enough to mourn the loss of values and connections they traded for the too-often failed promise of urban success, but he also portrays the nation's capital as a place of potential redemption, where small curses and small miracles intertwine, and where shifting communities and connections can literally save one's life. Each of its denizens comes through with his own particular ways and means for survival, often dependent on chance, and rendered with unsentimental sympathy and force: "Caesar flipped the quarter. The girl's heart paused. The man's heart paused. The coin reached its apex and then it fell." (Sept.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Pulitzer Prize?winning author Edward P. Jones (The Known World, **** Nov/Dec 2003) once again unfurls his extraordinary literary talent on the world. Though a few reviewers admit he makes "occasional missteps" (New York Times), the overall effect of these poignant, demanding, and nonlinear stories is respectful awe. These are short stories, yes, but all of the tales employ novelistic time shifts and multiple subplots. The characters are utterly human and given to temptation, but Jones treats them all with admirable tenderness. At the same time he persuasively honors their biblical antecedent Hagar, the woman cast out by Abraham, the mother of a new nation (perhaps Africa), and the Bible's first slave.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 399 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad Press; 1st edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060557567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060557560
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,102,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edward P. Jones won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was nominated for the National Book Award for his debut collection of stories, Lost in the City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Felicia Sullivan on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by Joanna Pearson for Small Spiral Notebook

Since the 2003 publication of his novel The Known World, Edward P. Jones has picked up the occasional award--a MacArthur here, a Pulitzer there--but had there been any doubt about his place in the pantheon, his new book of short stories, All Aunt Hagar's Children, secures it. Taken as a whole, Jones's works (including his 2004 short-story collection Lost in the City) do for 20th-century Washington, D.C., what Joyce's Dubliners did for Dublin: create that city within our literary imaginations.

This is not the Washington of bright-faced interns brandishing fresh degrees. Jones's city is a place where African-Americans newly arrived from the rural South grapple with their first experience of urban life in the early 1900's and then continue to make lives for themselves into the mid-twentieth century. Although Jones depicts this time, when certain parts of rural community life still remained intact, with great nostalgia, his characters all struggle within the vast new loneliness of urban life. In the book's the first story, "In the Blink of God's Eye," two newlyweds move to Washington from Virginia:

[Aubrey] smiled when he said Ruth's name, and he smiled when he told people he was going to live in Washington, D.C. Ruth had no feeling for Washington. She had generations of family in Virginia, but she was a married woman and had pledged to cling to her husband. And God had the baby in the tree and the story of the wolves in the roads waiting for her.

Ruth's fear that wolves roam the D.C. streets seems symptomatic of her new loneliness and vulnerability as a result of her sudden distance from the Virginia family that used to surround her.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lena M. Willis on March 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In his second book of short stories, Edward P. Jones does a wonderful job of chronicling the African-American experience in All Aunt Hagar' Children. Just as Lost in the City did, Jones brings to life a city that is hardly ever written about, Washington, D.C., and uses fourteen tales to describe circumstances that include life inside of homes full of love, and those without and those that are wealthy and those that are struggling.

Jones' depictions are as real as it gets, thoroughly describing life for Blacks fleeing an angry South to a new beginning in their first experience of living an "urban" American life from the early 1900's all the way to the mid-twentieth century and the loneliness it may sometimes bring. For example, "In the Blink of God's Eye" is about a newlywed couple that moves from Virginia to Washington, D.C. From the way Jones writes, the reader would assume that the couple traveled all the way to Washington State, because that is just how much home was missed for the young bride and how far away it seemed to her. In the title story, "All Aunt Hagar's Children", a hopeless young man aspires to go to Alaska to hunt for gold but in the meantime, spends his days helping a neighbor solve the mystery of how her son was murdered while also dodging an ex-girlfriend that he perceives to be angry.

Overall, this reader really enjoyed Jones' ability to tell a story but at times, wanted it to be longer and did not feel that the short story version could give these stories justice. At other times, the story was just long enough to get to know the characters and get a meaning out of the story that could resonate. Avid readers of Edward P. Jones will definitely want to add this collection to their libraries and will pick their favorites within All Aunt Hagar's Children.

Reviewed by Lena Willis

APOOO BookClub
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. Galishoff on December 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have read and agree with the other reviews posted thus far and see no need to outline the individual stories (as was well done below). I have a few comments. AN interesting comparison between this collection and Peter Taylor's "The Widows of Thornton" is worth exploring. The latter work, also by a Pulitzer Prize winner of a previous generation (Taylor was a professor at UVA), also deals with family issues that developed as the new South was being created. The widows were the women, left behind by their men of business who ventured forth into the new economy, who wrestled with preserving the values, traditions and social structure of the post-cival war south in the face of a rapidly changing modern world. Like the current work, Taylor's characters often find refuge in the dying home of Thorton TN. Taylor addresses race and socioeconomic issues, but from a white experience. Taylor's prose is very subtle and challenging, like the present work. Relationships change subtly overtime as lives unfold before us in ways that the characters could not forsee.

Jones, in addition to dealing with the generations spanning the old home (the deep south) and the new home (Washington, DC), addresses the additional issue of displacement, broken families, crime, drugs, adultery and alienation of an entire race made worse by physical displacement during the great migration. Like Taylor's Tennesee families, Jone's families face new challenges and experience great divides between generations. Whereas Taylor's world is white and well to do, Jones' world is mixed and often delves into the beginings and origins of the underworld that grew in the ghettos of this city that offered hope and bitter dissapointment.

Unlike Richard Wright, Jones does not deal mainly in anger.
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