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The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.
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The Prophets (edition 2021)

by Robert Jones Jr. (Author)

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4011250,109 (4.07)21
Member:tonykeithjr
Title:The Prophets
Authors:Robert Jones Jr. (Author)
Info:G.P. Putnam's Sons (2021), Edition: 1st Edition, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.

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This is a very hard book to review. Obviously, due to the characters and the moment in history it is full of pain and despair, but the writing is beautiful. I struggled a little bit with the changing perspectives, but I always blame this on my problem holding focus. If you're a skimmer you definitely want to try to squash that tendency as much as possible in this book or you'll lose key moments and you'll miss beautiful writing. There is love and joy and "magic" so to speak, but there is also pain and sorrow and it's hard to give a book 5 starts that ripped my heart open. But I'm giving it 5 stars anyway because I fell in love with love in this book. ( )
  KimZoot | Jan 2, 2022 |
The word choice and metaphors in this book were excellent. I read it knowing I don't care for magic realism, and that was a real problem for me. I am glad that I read it and learned what I did, but I would have preferred a different genre for the story of slavery in the 1800s and the history of Black spirituality. ( )
  suesbooks | Dec 9, 2021 |
I think this author and book have greatness within for the right person. It is very dense and I found it hard to read requiring much concentration and re-reading to attempt to understand what the author was saying. Very philosophical and maybe this author has far more intelligence than I as he attempts very weighty subjects at a far deeper level than I'm use to. I did not enjoy reading it and it seemed very dark to me despite the author's work to show the love of the main characters. It is realistic in depicting the lives of slaves on plantations in the South and the depth of cruelty white people fell too that has resurrected itself time and again in history as it did in the Holocaust. However to me every time I read it I was depressed and I only persevered in finishing because I hoped there was understanding and meaning for me, but the end was even more obscure and fantasy. ( )
  ZachMontana | Nov 20, 2021 |
NOMINATED FOR A 2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD! Winners to be announced on 17 November 2021.

I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA EDELWEISS+. THANK YOU.

My Review
: First, read this:
To survive this place, you had to want to die. That was the way of the world as remade by toubab, and Samuel's list of grievances was long: They pushed people into the mud and then called them filthy. They forbade people from accessing any knowledge of the world and then called them simple. They worked people until their empty hands were twisted, bleeding, and could do no more, then called them lazy. They forced people to eat innards from troughs and then called them uncivilized. They kidnapped babies and shattered families and then called them incapable of love. They raped and lynched and cut up people into parts, and then called the pieces savage. They stepped on people’s throats with all their might and asked why the people couldn’t breathe. And then, when people made an attempt to break the foot, or cut it off one, they screamed “CHAOS!” and claimed that mass murder was the only way to restore order.
–and–
This is why Isaiah and Samuel didn't care, why they clung to each other even when it was offensive to the people who had once shown them a kindness: it had to be known. And why would this be offensive? How could they hate the tiny bursts of light that shot through Isaiah's body every time he saw Samuel? Didn't everybody want somebody to glow like that? Even if it could only last for never, it had to be known. That way, it could be mourned by somebody, thus remembered—and maybe, someday, repeated.
You know, from reading those quotes, whether this book is for you or not. This is the prose voice; this is the storyteller's means of talking to you about the world Isaiah and Samuel are within. If it's not for you, then it's not.

But the National Book Award for Fiction thinks it worthy of inclusion on the 2021 list...and I hope, in spite of very serious competition, that the 2021 judges will choose this most American of stories, this beautifully told paean to love's power to transcend mere earthly potency, for the prize.

As I've read this book, and that's twice now, I've been transported by the power of debut novelist Jones's clarity and singleness of purpose. I know that writing about about enslaved people's love for each other is always going to be seen as a political statement. It is inevitable that choosing to tell of the love between two men is going to be seen as a political statement. To do both is, well, it *is* a political statement; but the statement in this book is, "Love Is Love." Isaiah loves Samuel, Samuel loves Isaiah, and these two men are WRONG and BAD and WICKED for this.

How that can be is not something I see in the story; it's not in these pages; and it's the reason I want the book to receive the National Book Award. I'm too old to hope that people will learn not to hate. They love it so, it's such a glorious high, that they aren't going to give it up. But I am not beyond hoping that the unconverted will resonate to the simple, deep joy of Samuel and Isaiah as they navigate a world that hates them for being, on many levels and in many, many places.
"A curse. A curse upon you and all of your progeny. May you writhe in ever-pain. May you never find satisfaction. May your children eat themselves alive."

But it was too late and the curse held no meaning because it was redundant.
That could very well be the most profound thing I've ever read....

I'd recommend to you a read like this under any circumstances, a read that challenges you to make the assumptions you live by fit the facts and not the other way around. I'd recommend it to you because it's about battling the addiction to Being Right. I'd urge it on you because it's beautifully written and deeply, emotionally wrought from the stuff that we get just from being alive.

But most of all, I do recommend this read to you because it's so satisfying to see the story of gay men's love as it has been seen, felt, internalized by the people around them...in many different ways, for many different reasons. The Samuel and Isaiah story is something these two men did not hide, and that is what I think matters the most. The narrative is not solely theirs, so the narrators are not solely them. How very important that facet of the story is to this old reader...how necessary its message of accepting the burden of being alive and in love places on some of us, far far more than others.

Check your privilege, straight people of all skin colors and ethnicities.

When the ancient gods of Africa address you, Readers, you need to listen. They chose Robert Jones, Junior, to deliver their message. I think you're wise to heed it. ( )
2 vote richardderus | Nov 15, 2021 |
historical fiction (two gay enslaved men amongst other enslaved people, each with their own concerns and dreams)

I listened to maybe 5 hours of this (and only had 9-1/2 more to go!), but kept getting distracted and wasn't really absorbing the story that well, so I decided to return it early (since there was still a waitlist of people wanting to read it). I'd probably do better with it in print.

It is long, but I liked the writing style, and the narrator/reader did an excellent job portraying the various voices. According to the blurb, Samuel and Isaiah have the "main" storyline but I was enjoying hearing the others' viewpoints too; I just wish I could've focused better. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
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For my grandmothers Corrine and Ruby, my grandfathers Alfred and George, my great-uncles Milton, Charles, Cephas, and Herbert, my father Robert, my cousins Trebor, Tracey, and Daishawn, my godparents Delores Marie and Daniel Lee, Mother Morrison and Father Baldwin, and all of my elders and relatives who have passed on over, who are now with the ancestors, who are now, themselves, ancestors, guiding and protecting me, whispering to me so that I, too, might share the testimony.
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Judges — Proverbs — Psalms — Deuteronomy — Maggie — Essie — Amos — Genesis — I Kings — Beulah — Puah — Leviticus — O, Sarah! — Ruth — Babel — Balm In Gilead — Romans — II Kings — Timothy — Nebuchadnezzar — Maccabees — The Revelation Of Judas — Chronicles — Bel And The Dragon — Paul — Adam — Samuel — Lamentations — Song Of Songs — James — Numbers — Exodus — Isaiah — New Covenant — Acknowledgments
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