A TOP TEN NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
‘Astonishing… A great work infused with love and honesty’ Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple
‘Deeply moving… it is magnificent’ Sarah Winman, author of Still Life
‘A remarkable work’ Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish)
‘Epic… It just consumed me’ Oprah Winfrey, Oprah Book Club
‘The kind of book that comes around only once a decade’ Washington Post
A breath-taking debut novel that chronicles the journey of generations of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade to our own tumultuous era
The great scholar, W.E.B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called ‘Double Consciousness,’ a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well.
From an early age, Ailey fights a battle to feel like she belongs, made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women – her mother, her sister and a maternal line reaching back two centuries – that urge her to succeed in their stead.
Ailey decides to embark on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors – Indigenous, Black, and white – in the deep South. In doing so she must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story – and the song – of America itself.
Sweeping, compulsive and deeply moving, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is set to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION • SHORTLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE • LONGLISTED FOR THE ASPEN LITERARY PRIZE
New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year • Time 10 Best Books of the Year • Washington Post 10 Best Books of the Year • People 10 Best Books of the Year • Booklist 10 Best First Novels of the Year
About the author
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is a fiction writer, poet, and essayist. She is the author of five poetry collections, including The Age of Phillis, which won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry, was longlisted for a National Book Award, and was a finalist for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. She was a contributor to The Fire This Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward, and has been published in the Kenyon Review, the Iowa Review, and other literary magazines. Jeffers was elected into the American Antiquarian Society, whose members include fourteen US presidents, and is a critic at large for the Kenyon Review. She teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Oklahoma.
- ‘Astonishing… I lived in this novel for three weeks. It is long. It is a journey. It is something so remarkable I’m not sure we collectively ever even dreamed it.’ Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple
- ’A major, almost 800-page novel that beautifully, and traumatically, weaves a spell of a story about more than ten generations of an American family—indigenous, African and European. It’s going to be a long time before I stop thinking about Ailey and Uncle Root. A remarkable work’ Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish)
- ‘Once in a while a book comes along whose scope in storytelling is breath-taking. Whose characters are so vivid they embody a sense of rich familiarity. A book I urge everyone to read. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is that book’ Sarah Winman, author of Still Life
- ‘The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is the kind of book that comes around only once a decade … With the depth of its intelligence and the breadth of its vision, Love Songs is simply magnificent’ Washington Post
- ‘Quite simply the best book that I have read in a very, very long time… Just as Toni Morrison did in Beloved, Jeffers uses fiction to fill in the gaping blanks of those who have been rendered nameless and therefore storyless… A sweeping, masterly debut’ New York Times
- ‘Just as brilliant as it is necessary, just as intimate as it is expansive. An outstanding portrait of an American family and in turn, an outstanding portrait of America’ Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give
- ‘It’s awe-inspiring. Massive, unflagging, gripping, gorgeous. A sweeping family saga that is also history at its most intimate and vital. I will be recommending it everyone I know. Unforgettable’ Stef Penney, author of The Tenderness of Wolves