From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, Five-Carat Soul, and Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography.
In the days before the Civil War, a runaway slave named Liz Spocott breaks free from her captors and escapes into the labyrinthine swamps of Maryland’s eastern shore, setting loose a drama of violence and hope among slave catchers, plantation owners, watermen, runaway slaves, and free blacks. Liz is near death, wracked by disturbing visions of the future, and armed with “the Code,” a fiercely guarded cryptic means of communication for slaves on the run. Liz’s flight and her dreams of tomorrow will thrust all those near her toward a mysterious, redemptive fate.
Filled with rich, true details—much of the story is drawn from historical events—and told in McBride’s signature lyrical style, Song Yet Sung is a story of tragic triumph, violent decisions, and unexpected kindness.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Novelist and jazz musician James McBride explores the final years of slavery in America with this challenging and emotional fantasy. Set on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in the 1850s, Song Yet Sung follows a runaway named Liz, who gains the ability to see visions of the future, from trials just down the path to the struggles of 21st-century African Americans. McBride’s novel is both a tense thriller and a thoughtful meditation on how slavery ruined the lives of everyone it touched—a corruption that’s still felt today. Like Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer, this story’s magical elements invite us to examine American history from a new and provocative perspective.
Escaped slaves, free blacks, slave-catchers and plantation owners weave a tangled web of intrigue and adventure in bestselling memoirist (The Color of Water) McBride's intricately constructed and impressive second novel, set in pre Civil War Maryland. Liz Spocott, a beautiful young runaway slave, suffers a nasty head wound just before being nabbed by a posse of slave catchers. She falls into a coma, and, when she awakes, she can see the future from the near-future to Martin Luther King to hip-hop in her dreams. Liz's visions help her and her fellow slaves escape, but soon there are new dangers on her trail: Patty Cannon and her brutal gang of slave catchers, and a competing slave catcher, nicknamed "The Gimp," who has a surprising streak of morality. Liz has some friends, including an older woman who teaches her "The Code" that guides runaways; a handsome young slave; and a wild inhabitant of the woods and swamps. Kidnappings, gunfights and chases ensue as Liz drifts in and out of her visions, which serve as a thoughtful meditation on the nature of freedom and offer sharp social commentary on contemporary America. McBride hasn't lost his touch: he nails the horrors of slavery as well as he does the power of hope and redemption.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great Flow and Story
Out of tragic circumstances, this story flows in a stormy river of excitement and anticipation. Excellent read and lesson in history.
This was my first introduction to this author and I am so glad to have read this book. The characters are strong, wise, warm, and loving. I still carry them with me months after reading this book. I can not wait to start my next James McBride selection!