From Publishers Weekly
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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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.