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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Cover Image For <I>The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois</I>

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

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Item: 006294295

by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2021

AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB SELECTION

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR FICTION

A New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year • A Time Must-Read Book of the Year • A Washington Post 10 Best Books of the Year • A Oprah Daily Top 20 Books of the Year • A People 10 Best Books of the Year • A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year • A BookPage Best Fiction Book of the Year • A Booklist 10 Best First Novels of the Year • A Kirkus 100 Best Novels of the Year • An Atlanta Journal-Constitution 10 Best Southern Books of the Year • A Parade Pick • A Chicago Public Library Top 10 Best Books of the Year • A KCRW Top 10 Books of the Year

An Instant Washington Post, USA Today, and Indie Bestseller

The 2020 NAACP Image Award-winning poet makes her fiction debut with this National Book Award-longlisted, magisterial epic—an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer—that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War 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. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans—the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers—Ailey carries Du Bois’s Problem on her shoulders.

Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead.

To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks 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 Ailey 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.
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