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

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


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An Oprah’s Book Club Selection

A New York Times Book Everyone Will Be Talking About

“This sweeping, brilliant and beautiful narrative is at once a love song to Black girlhood, family, history, joy, pain…and so much more. In Jeffers' deft hands, the story of race and love in America becomes the great American novel.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone and Another Brooklyn

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • An Indie Next Pick • A People 5 Best Books of the Summer • A Good Morning America 15 Summer Book Club Picks • An Essence Best Book of the Summer • A Time 11 Best Books of the Month • A Washington Post 10 Books of the Month • A CNN Best Book of the Month • A Ms. Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Goodreads Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Book Page Writer to Watch • A USA Today Hottest Summer Book • A Chicago Tribune Summer Must-Read • An Observer Best Summer Book • A Millions Most Anticipated Book • A Ms. Book of the Month • A BiblioLifestyle Most Anticipated Literary Book of the Summer • A Deep South Best Book of the Summer • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

The 2020 National Book Award–nominated poet makes her fiction debut with this 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.

Title:The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

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

  • Elyse  Walters

    Outstanding, brilliant, epic, intimate!!! No need to reinvent- previously great words written —Ron Charles, (professional reviewer for a reason), from the Washington Post said it best….“It is, i...

  • Maureen

    ‘The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois’, is so beautifully written and so moving that it brought tears to my eyes. The feeling is that you’re reading something very special, something that comes along...

  • Paromjit

    To say that I am astounded by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers ambitious and epic novel, a family drama, would be an understatement, it is demanding, challenging and requires commitment from the reader for thi...

  • Ron Charles

    Whatever must be said to get you to heft this daunting debut novel by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, I’ll say, because “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” is the kind of book that comes around only on...

  • Angela M

    “When we speak about history, we speak about somebody’s life.” The past woven with the present spanning generations, into one story of one black family, this is a stunning reflection of our hist...

  • Raymond

    The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois is a powerful intergenerational, feminist, and womanist novel. Honorée Jeffers tells the racial and class history of this country through this book, not with a lot ...

  • Lisa

    [4.5] What do you say about a novel that somehow encompasses the history of the US -the real history - the theft of Native Americans' land, Black people sold as animals, White slave-owners and of all ...

  • Nia J Reads

    Let me start off by saying WOW. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois has rightfully taken it's place in my top 10 books for 2021. I'll never say that something is impossible, because there are truly peopl...

  • Alwynne

    The debut novel of established poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s an immensely gripping, epic saga. It’s centred on one Black American family and their history, which is also a history of America’s...

  • Anne (On semi-hiatus)

    Every once in a while I read a book that is so beautifully written and so deeply moving and engaging that I feel the need to give it more than the 5 stars allowed on GR. The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bo...