From Ralph Ellison - author of the classic novel of African-American experience, Invisible Man - the long-awaited second novel. Here is the master of American vernacular - the rhythms of jazz and gospel and ordinary speech - at the height of his powers, telling a powerful, evocative tale of a prodigal of the twentieth century.
"Tell me what happened while there's still time," demands the dying Senator Adam Sunraider to the itinerate Negro preacher whom he calls Daddy Hickman. As a young man, Sunraider was Bliss, an orphan taken in by Hickman and raised to be a preacher like himself. Bliss's history encompasses the joys of young southern boyhood; bucolic days as a filmmaker, lovemaking in a field in the Oklahoma sun. And behind it all lies a mystery: how did this chosen child become the man who would deny everything to achieve his goals? Brilliantly crafted, moving, wise, Juneteenth is the work of an American master.
©2011 Ralph Ellison (P)2011 Random House Audio
"[A] vastly ambitious informing allegory, an allegory made rich, as in Invisible man, with the sensory details of which Ellison was such a master." (The New York Review of Books)
"[A]n extraordinary book, a work of staggering virtuosity. With its publication, a giant world of literature has just grown twice as tall." (Newsday)
"[A] stunning achievement.... Juneteenth is a tour de force of untutored eloquence. Ellison sought no less than to create a Book of Blackness, a literary composition of the tradition at its most sublime and fundamental." (Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Time)
Yes. His other book, Invisible Man has been on my list of books to read for a long time.
He's a great orator, which is a plus in this book with all it's orations. He also does the quieter parts well.
It’s a shame Ralph Ellison never was able to finish his second novel. In this edition, editor John Callahan tells the story of how he was working on it for years and years, and just when he had it nearly finished, the manuscript, or at least a large part of it, was destroyed in a fire. He went back to working on it, but was never able to get it to that point again. Working with it after Ellison’s death, Callahan determined that the existing material could likely have become three novels, but none of them was completely finished. What he was able to put together as the most coherent part of the narrative is Juneteenth, which was apparently intended to be the middle part of the story. I think I would have liked the story better if all the parts had been there.
Senator Adam Sunraider, a politician who has built a career out of a blatantly racist attitude, is speechifying on the floor of the senate when somebody in the gallery starts shooting at him. As he is fighting for his life in the hospital, it is surprisingly an old black preacher he calls ‘Daddy Hickman’ that he asks for.
In a long series of flashbacks and reminiscences we learn the story of how Daddy Hickman raised Sunraider (known in childhood as ‘Bliss’) from birth, and of some of his exploits after he ran away from Daddy Hickman and the church.
Anyone who is a fan of good old-time black preaching will doubtless like the book, as a good portion of it is sermons from the long-ago past. The narrator, Joe Morton does an excellent job with this book.
This is one of the best books and certainly one of the best narrators I've enjoyed in a decade of Audible experiences.
Rev. A.Z. Hickman is a total, compelling protagonist, clear-eyed and poetic.
I think Joe Morton should be performing this book on stage. He paints this book with his voice, and listening to him is definitely a richer experience than reading the book in print.
"Invisible Man" and "Juneteenth" are necessary, brilliant and will have an undeniable physical, emotional, intellectual and moral impact on any reader. Stunningly written and beautifully voiced by Mr. Morton.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.