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The Prophets: a New York Times Bestseller

Robert Jones Jr.

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Historical fiction

*A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*

'This visionary and deeply evocative debut carves a radiant love story out of the bleakest of landscapes.' Waterstones - Best Books to Look Out For in 2021

'An Outstanding novel' Guardian
'A lyrical, poetic novel' Independent

'Epic in its scale' Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf
'A rare marvel' Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
'Magisterial' Courttia Newland, author of A River Called Time
'A spellbinding debut' COSMO
'Ambitious and intense' Vanity Fair

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One of:
The New York Times Book Review's Books to Watch for in January
The Washington Post's 10 Books to Read in January
TIME's 10 New Books You Should Read in January
O, the Oprah Magazine's 32 LGBTQ Books That Will Change
the Literary Landscape in 2021
Cosmopolitan's New LGBTQ+ Books to Add to Your Reading List
BuzzFeed's Most Anticipated Historical Fiction of 2021
Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2021
The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of 2021

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In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose of Zora Neale Hurston to characterise the forceful, enduring bond of love, and what happens when brutality threatens the purest form of serenity.

The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love - away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs - where they can be alone together.

But, Amos - a fellow slave - has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul's gospel, he betrays them.

The culminating pages of The Prophets summon a choral voice of those who have suffered in silence, with blistering humanity, as the day of reckoning arrives at the Halifax plantation. Love, in all its permutations, is the discovery at the heart of Robert Jones Jr's breathtaking debut, The Prophets.

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Praise for The Prophets: a New York Times Bestseller

  • 'I've loved the writing of Robert Jones, Jr., for years, and The Prophets is an absolute triumph, a symphonic evocation of the heights and depths of pain, joy, and love' R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

  • 'In The Prophets, Robert Jones, Jr.'s lens is at once epic and microscopic, equally capable of evoking historical crises and interpersonal ones. Painfully harsh and painfully tender, this inventive, kaleidoscopic love story is a marvel' Helen Phillips, author of The Need

  • The Prophets is indeed an outstanding novel, delivering tender, close-up intimacy, but also a great sweep of history - The Guardian

  • 'What a rare marvel this book is. The Prophets fashions an epic so rich in erudition, wisdom, clarity and power, so full of hard-earned yet too-brief joys, that it reaffirms for me literature's place as both balm and scalpel for the mind and soul. You can feel the decades of thinking embedded not only in these sentences but in how they question and build a world shamefully amputated from textbooks. Rarely is a book this finely wrought, the lives and histories it holds so tenderly felt, and rendered unforgettably true' - Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

  • A polyphonic novel - Vanity Fair

  • How devastating and glorious this is. Epic in its scale, intimate in its force, and lyrical in its beauty. The Prophets shakes right down to the bone what the American novel is, should do, and can be. That shuffling sound you hear is Morrison, Baldwin, and Angelou whooping and hollering both in pride, and wonder - Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf

  • 'The Prophets is easily the most superb tutorial in writing and loving I have ever read. I'm convinced Morrison, Baldwin, and Bambara sat around sipping wine one night, talking about the day we'd read an offering like The Prophets. Robert Jones, Jr. is a once-in-a-generation cultural worker whose art thankfully will be imitated for generations' Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir

  • A spellbinding debut narrated by a variety of characters tells the story of the forbidden union between Samuel and Isaiah, two enslaved young men on a plantation in America's Deep South and the desire to forge connections. Vividly drawn, Jones Jr. skilfully rewrites the existence of Black queer people in recent history - COSMO (BEST BOOKS ROUNDUP)

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Robert Jones Jr.

Robert Jones, Jr. is author of The New York Times Instant Bestselling novel, The Prophets, which has been longlisted for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Essence, and The Paris Review. He is the creator and curator of the social-justice, social-media community Son of Baldwin, which has over 288,000 followers across platforms.

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