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Summary

2022 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Fiction

A NPR BOOKS WE LOVE 2021 Selection

A New York Times “Biggest New Books Coming Out in September” Selection · A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice Pick · A Guardian “50 Biggest Books of Autumn 2021” Selection · An Esquire “Best Books of Fall 2021” Selection · A Buzzfeed “Best Books Coming Out This Fall” Selection · A Bustle “Most Anticipated Books of September 2021” Selection  · A LitHub “22 Novels You Need to Read This Fall” Selection · A Kirkus Reviews “16 Best Books to Read in September” Selection · A Root September “PageTurner”

“This story shimmers. Shakes. Wails. Moves to rhythms long forgotten . . . in many ways: holy. [A] masterpiece.”—The New York Times Book Review

The epic rendering of a Black woman’s journey through slavery and liberation, set in 17th-century colonial Brazil; the return of a major voice in American literature.

First discovered and edited by Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century. Now, for the first time in over 20 years, Jones is ready to publish again. Palmares is the first of five new works by Gayl Jones to be published in the next two years, rewarding longtime fans and bringing her talent to a new generation of listeners.

Intricate and compelling, Palmares recounts the journey of Almeyda, a Black slave girl who comes of age on Portuguese plantations and escapes to a fugitive slave settlement called Palmares. Following its destruction, Almeyda embarks on a journey across colonial Brazil to find her husband, lost in battle.

Her story brings to life a world impacted by greed, conquest, and colonial desire. She encounters a mad lexicographer, desperate to avoid military service; a village that praises a god living in a nearby cave; and a medicine woman who offers great magic, at a greater price.

Combining the author’s mastery of language and voice with her unique brand of mythology and magical realism, Jones reimagines the historical novel. The result is a sweeping saga spanning a quarter century, with vibrant settings and unforgettable characters, steeped in the rich oral tradition of its world. Of Gayl Jones, the New Yorker noted, “[Her] great achievement is to reckon with both history and interiority, and to collapse the boundary between them.” Like nothing else before it, Palmares embodies this gift.

©2021 Gayl Jones (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“Now published, the book proves to be one of her most ambitious and, at times, extraordinary works of fiction. . . . By telling a story about the pursuit of freedom, Jones and Almeyda also create a place where Black freedom, if not realized, can at least be imagined, and thus remains a possibility.” —The Nation

"In writing a novel called Palmares, Gayl Jones, recognized since the 1970s as one of America’s most important black writers, is breaking new literary ground and performing a laudable act of historical redemption." —The New York Review of Books

“A legendary African American novelist returns with her first novel in 22 years, an epic adventure of enchantment, enslavement, and the pursuit of knowledge in 17th-century Brazil . . . . Those familiar with Corregidora (1975) and Eva’s Man (1976) will not be surprised by the sustained intensity of both imagery and tone. There is also sheer wonder, insightful compassion, and droll wit to be found among the book’s riches. Jones seems to have come through a life as tumultuous as her heroine’s with her storytelling gifts not only intact, but enhanced and enriching.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

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  • Lisa H Pulver
  • 27-09-21

Needs a good editor

I think this story could have been good. But it’s way too wordy and the storyline is jumbled and difficult to follow. I regret keeping it -thinking it might get better. So not worth the credit! The reader is quite good which was the book’s only positive.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-06-22

May be better to read this one

I think this book may be better to be read than listened to.. At some point in the book the character is talking about things that she sees in visions I think. Unfortunately you never know when it’s real life and when it’s a vision it’s very hard to follow the story because you don’t know what the character is actually experiencing.