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Long Division Paperback – June 11, 2013
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An Action-Packed Retelling of a Classic
London has been destroyed in a blitz of bombs and disease. The only ones who have survived the destruction and the outbreak of a deadly virus are children, among them sixteen-year-old Gwen Darling and her younger siblings, Joanna and Mikey. Hardcover | Kindle book
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"Funny, astute and searching.... The author's satirical instincts are excellent. He is also intimately attuned to the confusion of young black Americans who live under the shadow of a history that they only gropingly understand and must try to fill in for themselves." Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
"Don't miss Kiese Laymon's Long Division. One Mississippi town with two engaging stories in two very different decades. The sharp humor and deep humanity make this debut novel unforgettable." Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC
"A novel within a novelhilarious, moving and occasionally dizzying.... Laymon cleverly interweaves his narrative threads and connects characters in surprising and seemingly impossible ways. Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice, confusion and love rooted in an emphatically post-Katrina world." Kirkus Reviews
"Laymon’s debut novel is an ambitious mix of contemporary southern gothic with Murakamiesque magical realism.... the book elegantly showcases Laymon’s command of voice and storytelling skill in a tale that is at once dreamlike and concrete, personal and political." Booklist
Smart, exciting and energetic...the language romps and roars along through some truly wonderful comic scenes and yet the book doesn’t hesitate to comment seriously on questions that matter to human beings everywhere, not just in rural Mississippi.” Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine and Slapboxing with Jesus
"[One of] our best books of the year so far...Layman’s debut novel is bursting with colloquial language from three generations of Mississippi African Americans, mixed with gut-piercing truths about a long racial divide that persists to this day." —Diane Colson, School Library Journal
Laymon is a brilliant young writer...this is a book that sings in the heart but challenges readers to take careful consideration of the power of memory. Like the best of Hurston, Ellison, or Bambara, Laymon’s craft flows on frequencies that both honor and extend the traditions those writers established.” William Henry Lewis, author of I Got Somebody in Staunton
"A little fantasy, a little mystery and a lot hilarious." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Smart and funny and sharp...I loved it." Jesmyn Ward, author of Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, winner of 2011 National Book Award for Fiction
"Long Division is one of those books that I picked up and just couldn’t stop reading...powerful, a classic American novel." Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation and Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop
"Kiese Laymon is an amazing, courageous and brave novelist and essayist.... Laymon fiercely tackles issues of prejudice, adolescence and love with a swagger and confidence all his own. You rarely find novels this honest and engaging. Read this book." Michigan Quarterly Review
"Laymon’s voice is unique, a rarity in an era during which fiction tends all too often to chase trends.... At times touching, at times poignant, Laymon more than once strikes a beautiful chord in the midst of what often feels gritty and intentionally provocative. Those touching insights make Long Division worth the effort, and readers who stick with the story (stories, actually) will find themselves thinking about City and the people in his life long after they close the book." Chicago Book Review
"A curious, enjoyable novel...take[s] relish in skewering the disingenuous masquerade of institutional racism..." Publishers Weekly
The racial/ethical awareness is as complex as Coetzee’s, and Laymon is just as good a writer. Laymon takes some real risks. I love the interplay of spirituality and sexuality. Nothing sounds forced, pandering or trendy. City, the husky citizen of the imagination, feels totally singular and totally representative. That’s tough to pull off.” Tim Strode, author of Ethics of Exile
Top Customer Reviews
It's too bad that describing a great book often involves plot points, because the shock of discovery is part of what makes this novel so just incredibly fun to read. So, and since part of what the story is about is the beauty and power of a well-crafted sentence, I'll just offer a couple of examples of the latter:
"It made me kind of mad that the museum was named after a grimy drunk dude who called a girl 'baby,' but I figured lots of museum were named for part-time losers."
"Embarrassed, I understood on that stage, was just another way of saying I felt alone."
"F*** a book. Ain't no one reading no books in 2013 unless you already a star or talking about some damn vampires and wolfmen."
(I've bowdlerized that last quote lest Amazon remove it for violating some rule about appropriate language in reviews or something; Laymon isn't such a prude, and his characters speak like real people.)
There is so much going on in this novel. It's funny and it will make you cry, it's a page-turner that will make you want to read it as slowly as possible just to savor it, it'specific and regional but also makes a legitimate claim to be a Great American Novel, it does metafiction and scifi, it's wise and honest, and I guarantee you'll want to read it more than once.
This is where I think the novel weakens. The book within a book thing can be a useful maneuver, but to take you through different eras in this artifice, the novel took a turn towards the simple and silly, rather than humorous and sensible. Cleverness becomes folly, intelligence becomes dumbness, and what could have been an absolute great novel becomes just average.
City is able to travel through time from 2013 to 1985 and 1964. This is all done through a door in the woods near his grandmother's home in Melahatchie, MS. He isn't actually doing the time travel, but is reading about it, in a book called "Long Division." In that book, he finds a character who narrates the publication and has the same name as him, City.
The publication is given to City, by a school official and their is no author of this book. As he begins to read the unauthored "Long Division" he recognizes names including his own, and one of his fellow peers who is currently missing. How does this all fit into what City is going through presently? Definitely some interesting moments. The novel by Mr. Laymon takes you on a sometimes exciting ride, but oftentimes an incongruous one. I would go 3.5 stars because I think the writing is mostly smart, humorous and engaging. But, since that is not an option, I must fall back to 3.
I'm so excited for the rest of the world to discover "Long Division" and the man behind it, Kiese Laymon. It's about time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Long Division is an important book because it gives voice to experiences that are often unheard. It did me good to experience a narrative that was so very different from my own... Read morePublished 12 days ago by E. A. Boyter
Time travel meets race relations in this novel. The characters are real, nuanced, and engaging, and the writing style is personable and accessible. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Alexandra Helms
READ THIS. My professor in college wrote it and it became one of my favorite books of all time. It is a masterfully written story.Published 1 month ago by Izzy
Sometimes you can read a book just for fun and it surprises you in a big way. I read this with a smile on my face the whole time. Read morePublished 3 months ago by RexCarey
This book was okay to me. It was an interesting idea for a subject but I found it confusing. I couldn't keep up with which decade we were visiting at times. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Tracy Rembert
Incredible writing. Demonstrates how we live in all times at once. Wonderful time traveling story with young African American protagonists. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Raquel L. Monroe
This is one of the best Young Adult books out there at the moment.Published 5 months ago by zohar eviater