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All Aunt Hagar's Children
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Three years after the publication of his much-heralded, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Known World, Edward P. Jones returned with an elegiac, luminous masterpiece, All Aunt Hagar's Children. In these fourteen sweeping and sublime stories, Jones resurrects the minor characters in his first award-winning story collection, Lost in the City. The result is vintage Jones: powerful, magisterial tales that showcase his ability to probe the complexities and tenaciousness of the human spirit. All Aunt Hagar's Children is filled with people who call Washington, D.C., home. Yet it is the city's ordinary citizens, not its power brokers, who most concern Jones. Here, everyday people who thought the values of the South would sustain them in the North find "that the cohesion born and nurtured in the south would be but memory in less than two generations."
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This collection of 14 short stories follows Jones's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Known World as an illustration of black life in America. His stories span the 20th century in Washington, DC. Jones's Washington is not as much the center of international power as a place offering hope for rural descendants of slaves. Several characters have made it to the middle class, often through government employment, but economic success doesn't exempt one from suffering, a lesson Horace, an aging womanizer in "A Rich Man," learns as he seeks ever younger prey. The retired Pentagon employee is thrilled by his success until a misjudgment results in the trashing of his treasured record collection. "In the Blink of God's Eye" features newlyweds Ruth and Aubrey Patterson, who leave rural Virginia looking for a better life. But the dislocation is hard on Ruth, so when she finds an abandoned baby in a tree, she feels even more bewildered by her new surroundings. Of particular interest is Jones's treatment of the spiritual influence on the characters' lives. The author, a gifted storyteller, draws his characters with rich detail, capturing the intricacies of human interaction. Peter Francis James narrates in a clear, rich bass, re-creating dialects in a convincing way. Strongly recommended for large public libraries.-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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 2006 Reed Business Information.

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