Best Book of the Year
NPR • The Washington Post • Boston Globe • TIME • USA Today • Entertainment Weekly • Real Simple • Parade • Buzzfeed • Electric Literature • LitHub • BookRiot • PopSugar • Goop • Library Journal • BookBub • KCRW
• Finalist for the National Book Award
• One of the New York Times Notable Books of the Year
• One of the New York Times Best Historical Fiction of the Year
• Instant New York Times Bestseller
A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.
Isaiah was Samuel's and Samuel was Isaiah's. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master's gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel's love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation's harmony.
With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr., fiercely summons the voices of slaver and enslaved alike, from Isaiah and Samuel to the calculating slave master to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries—of ancestors and future generations to come—culminates in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets fearlessly reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This is a historical romance like no other we’ve ever heard. On a Mississippi plantation, two enslaved young men, Samuel and Isaiah, secretly find happiness in each other’s arms. But their sliver of joy is threatened by seemingly every aspect of their life in bondage—even sympathetic figures like the kindly housemaid Maggie could potentially cause their ruin. Robert Jones, Jr.’s prodigious debut uses dozens of richly textured characters to tell the story of the two men, from ruthless slave drivers to fellow enslaved people and even African royalty. Award-winning narrator Karen Chilton is graceful with Jones’ lyrical prose, utterly transported us throughout this moving listen. We could feel the brutal heat of the cotton fields just as much as we could the strength of Samuel’s and Isaiah’s boundless spirits.
It’s one of those books you end up not needing the audio for because they won’t read it how you are reading it. Overall 10/10