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

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All Aunt Hagar's Children + Lost in the City - 20th anniversary edition: Stories + The Known World
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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 (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 23 customer reviews
Jones is such an incredibly gifted writer, his prose is succinct, true, impeccably crafted.
Gail Cooke
They are rooted in African American life but, in their treatment of love, sexuality, change, and character speak universally as well.
Robin Friedman
Jones often changes points of view, shifts time, and fills his stories with a variety of characters.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Some things are well worth waiting for and Edward P. Jonses's follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize winning debut novel "The Known World" (2003) is most assuredly one of them. Once again he uses short story formats to illuminate and make memorable his characters, ordinary people, really, but to the reader they are unforgettable. This author's evocation of black life in America is incomparable.

The 14 stories that comprise "All Aunt Hagar's Children" are set in Washington, the city where Jones was raised and now lives. He opens with "In The Blink of God's Eye," the story of Ruth and Aubrey, a young couple in their late teens and recently married. Ruth does not always rest well in "godforsaken Washington" while Aubrey "always slept the sleep of a man not long out of boyhood." One night when Ruth was wakeful she went out in back where she found a baby tied in a bundle hanging from a tree limb. Thus, she thought Washington was "a city where they hung babies in night trees."

As is his wont Jones treats readers to the earlier lives of his characters, rendering them all the more accessible and sympathetic. This is especially true in "Resurrecting Methuselah" in which we meet Anita Channing who sits by the bedside of Bethany, her ill daughter. She sits in a wooden chair built a century and a half ago by a former slave. Anita's husband, Percival, is serving in Okinawa, where he spends much time with a prostitute, Sara Lee. When Percival discovers he has breast cancer he calls Anita and asks her to come to him. She reaches Honolulu, a stopover in her flight, where she has an opportunity to look back on her childhood and wonder what the future holds for herself and her child.
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21 of 23 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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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.

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