The Historical Novel Review did a great job with my article on slavery last month – in which I interviewed a couple marvelous authors plus a great historian about slavery in historical novels, specifically the despicable institution of enslaving Africans and African-Americans in mostly white America.
Valerie Martin, author of Property, told me that her novel was, in part, a meditation “on the fantastic and constant perversity of the oppressor to feel victimized by the oppressed.”
It’s also a page turner with a surprise ending.
Marlen Suyapa Bodden, author of The Wedding Gift, believes that these novels, because they make us think, are important. But, says the debut novelist, they also need to be good stories, not just polemics.
She succeeded in that in The Wedding Gift. Marvelous story – and again! You won’t guess the ending.
Cut to the historian, Tim Ryan of Northern Illinois University, author of Calls and Responses: The American Slavery Novel Since Gone with the Wind. “Novels about slavery continue to perform valuable cultural work, as they always have.”
Good reading and good for us and our culture. Here’s a few to choose from:
- The Wedding Gift, by Marlen Suyapa Bodden
- Property, by Valerie Martin
- The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, by M.T. Anderson
- The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom
- Someone Knows My Name, by Lawrence Hill
- Kind One, by Laird Hunt
- The Known World, by Edward Jones
- The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride
- Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
- Freeman, by Leonard Pitts Jr.