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Them: A Novel | [Nathan McCall]

Them: A Novel

Barlowe, a single African-American in his 40s, shares a ramshackle house with his 20-something nephew in the old Fourth Ward of downtown Atlanta. When Sean and Sandy, a white married couple from Philadelphia, buy and renovate the house next door in anticipation of a neighborhood "turnaround", everyone tries at first to go about their daily business. But fear and suspicion begin to build as more and more new whites move in and make changes, and once familiar people and places disappear.
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Publisher's Summary

Barlowe, a single African-American in his 40s, shares a ramshackle house with his 20-something nephew in the old Fourth Ward of downtown Atlanta, a neighborhood known as the center of the civil-rights movement and the former home of Martin Luther King, Jr. Barlowe works as a printer and passes the time reading books from the neighborhood library and hanging out with other local black men at the corner store.

When Sean and Sandy, a white married couple from Philadelphia, buy and renovate the house next door in anticipation of a neighborhood "turnaround", everyone tries at first to go about their daily business. But fear and suspicion begin to build as more and more new whites move in and make changes, and once familiar people and places disappear.

©2007 Nathan McCall; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[A] trenchant, slyly humorous debut novel....Masterfully orchestrated and deeply disturbing illustrations of the depth of the racial divide play out....McCall nails [the] details again and again, and the results, if less than hopeful, are poignant and grimly funny." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (78 )
5 star
 (14)
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 (28)
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2 star
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3.7 (21 )
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3.9 (20 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Sharon SouthamptonBermuda 08-28-09
    Sharon SouthamptonBermuda 08-28-09 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    167
    8
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    "A look at Race Issues"

    It is not often that both sides of racial issues are seen so clearly as in this book. I want all my white friends to read it so that we can consider and discuss key attitudes , emotions and loyalties. My feeling is that it was an honest attempt on the part of the author. The characters are credible, I've said so many of the same things myself. Please write more Nathan, and please make more of this available on Audible!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gina Inglewood, CA, USA 09-09-08
    Gina Inglewood, CA, USA 09-09-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    25
    2
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    0
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    "Easy Listening"

    I really liked this book. The story line was good and I felt that Nathan McCall presented both sides of this story in a balanced fair minded way. So realistic, because this is happening right now in my neighborhood. This story kept my attention and entertained me, It was Easy Listening.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mari Cleveland Heights, OH, United States 08-10-14
    Mari Cleveland Heights, OH, United States 08-10-14 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
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    42
    18
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    "A Powerful Debut Novel From A Great Journalist"

    Nathan McCall's "Them" is a very different kind of book for our time, one that is sorely needed. The book contains no easy answers. There are no action scenes, no passages containing graphic sex, and no idealistic platitudes or easy answers. In other words, this is a book we all should take the time to read or listen to.

    Everyone in the book has a point of view, locked inside their own private bubble, unable to see outside that bubble. The narrative moves on the subtle plot point of, "Can one get outside of this bubble"? There are indications that we can, but the book offers no definitive answers. Honestly, we can't answer this question right now because we are in the midst of severe racial, class and political stratification.

    As the book builds, I found myself more and more hooked in - the indication of a well-crafted narrative. If you feel it starts slow, let it. Stop being rushed and distracted and pay attention. This book brings up issues we all must pay attention to. And it does it in the sweeping way that good writing always does: it lifts us out of our existing world and sets us firmly in the midst of another.

    This other world is Atlanta's old Fourth Ward, an historic black community in the midst of rapid gentrification. But this tale is not limited to Atlanta. This is happening in my own city (Cleveland) and is going on throughout the country. The disruption of long-standing communities has occurred all over America, from Brooklyn to Oakland, and no one is talking about this. Except Nathan McCall.

    I was surprised to read that this is his first novel. It is so well constructed, the characters are so well seen, and the narrative moves forward so steadily, it feels as if it's crafted in the sure hands of a master. I hope this great journalist creates more fiction for us to immerse ourselves in. I'm awaiting his next book (fiction or not).

    The reader is spot on. He did a fabulous job, with the exception of some of the female voices. He chose to make them a bit too "weak", but I imagine it is difficult to switch genders easily…especially in this polarized world we live in. For the most part it is phenomenal, and I encourage all to listen and stick with this great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Parker, CO, United States 01-20-14
    John Parker, CO, United States 01-20-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    55
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    710
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    "Well done"

    I thought this was very well written and thought provoking. Assuming it is an accurate portrayal of Black culture (which I do), it demonstrates that the author is not afraid to show that Whites do not have a corner on racism, but also that he does not seem to understand Whites or White culture any better than Whites understand Blacks. Since all the White characters are either air-headed, condescending, 'bleeding heart' (one of his Black character's phrases) yuppies or unapologetic red-neck racists, I can only conclude, surprisingly, that even with his intelligence and experience as a respected journalist, he apparently has not encountered any who share the same values I'm sure he has--hard work, honesty, self-reliance, self-respect, personal responsibility--and who endeavor to judge others on those same grounds, not on skin color. If he has, I'm not sure why none were portrayed in his otherwise excellent novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andra Roanoke, IN, United States 08-27-08
    Andra Roanoke, IN, United States 08-27-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    58
    ratings
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    101
    64
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    37
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    "Too slow"

    I purchased this audio book with such anticipation because I am familiar with this author's previous works. I was disappointed with this audio book, because I was expecting this work of fiction to take more time with exploring the depths of his character, maybe provide more character development of others in the neighborhood, and to also move or flow through the story line with more style. I found this audio book boring, and I don't think the narrator had much to work with.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Kirwan Boring, Oregon USA 04-15-14
    J. Kirwan Boring, Oregon USA 04-15-14 Member Since 2011

    developing community

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    76
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    "Two Vastly Different Worlds"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book isn't for everyone but attempts to bring honest understandings about race relations between blacks and whites can be pretty interesting.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The talks at the fence were interesting. I kept wishing that the story would stop being so realistic though and become more idealistic but that would take away from the book's statement that things are what they are.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Kind of


    Any additional comments?

    I love the narrator. He's very talented but some of his white people voices made me laugh. I don't know if he was intentionally being funny.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy Charlotte, NC, United States 11-04-11
    Cindy Charlotte, NC, United States 11-04-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
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    176
    5
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    0
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    "terrible"

    unlikable characters doing unlikely things. This book is so racially biased, it was almost laughable.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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