- Expected 3 Mar 2020
*An Entertainment Weekly, Millions, and LitHub Most-Anticipated Book of 2020 pick*
*A Rumpus and Electric Literature Most-Anticipated Debut of 2020 pick*
*A Ms. Magazine Top Feminist Book Coming Out in 2020*
*A BookRiot Best Book Club Pick of 2020*
*A Celadon Books Most-Anticipated Novel of 2020*
*A Lily Top Book to Read by Women in 2020 Selection*
*A Buzz Magazine Top New Book of the New Decade*
*A She Reads Most-Anticipated Historical Fiction Pick of 2020*
A transporting debut novel that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.
Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it’s about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend.
And now, nearing the end of his life, Stanford is about to meet his firstborn daughter, Irene Paisley, a home health aide who has unwittingly shown up for her first day of work to tend to the father she thought was dead.
These Ghosts Are Family revolves around the consequences of Abel’s decision and tells the story of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present day Harlem. There is Vera, whose widowhood forced her into the role of single mother. There are two daughters and a granddaughter who have never known they are related. And there are others, like the house boy who loved Vera, whose lives might have taken different courses if not for Abel Paisley’s actions.
These Ghosts Are Family explores the ways each character wrestles with their ghosts and struggles to forge independent identities outside of the family and their trauma. The result is an engrossing portrait of a family and individuals caught in the sweep of history, slavery, migration, and the more personal dramas of infidelity, lost love, and regret. This electric and luminous family saga announces the arrival of a new American talent.
Card's profound, assured debut explores Jamaican colonial history to uncover a family's painful past. Spanning two centuries and eight generations of the Paisley family, the narrative begins in 2005 with Stanford Solomon, a Jamaican immigrant to the United States who was once known as Abel Paisley before faking his own death 35 years earlier, assuming his dead friend's identity, and estranging himself from his family. After Stanford finally reaches out to his daughter, Irene, a 37-year-old home health aide in New York City, to confess that he's been alive all this time, her late mother, Vera, a ghost who spent decades without knowing what happened to her husband, notes that "death is just one long therapy session." Meanwhile, Stanford's daughter by a second marriage, Estelle Solomon, struggles with heroin addiction and grief that she cannot support her 18-year-old daughter. As Card traces the family's roots back through Jamaica's history under British rule and enslavement, literal and figurative ghosts animate the novel, and a wrenching description of the violent 1831 Christmas Rebellion and its aftermath reveals that Stanford was not the first of the Paisleys to rewrite the history of their lineage. Through a fluid blend of patois and erudite descriptions of Jamaica, Card offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a troubled but resilient family whose struggles are inscribed by the island they once called home. This masterful chronicle haunts like the work of Marlon James and hits just as hard.