Winner of the PEN/Faulkner: “Rivals Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon as the best novel about the black experience in America since Ellison’s Invisible Man” (The Christian Science Monitor).
Brilliant but troubled historian John Washington has left Philadelphia, where he is employed by a major university, to return to his hometown just north of the Mason–Dixon Line. He is there to care for Old Jack, one of the men who helped raise him when he was growing up on the Hill, an old black neighborhood in the little Pennsylvania town—but he also wants to learn more about the death of his father.
What John discovers is that his father, Moses Washington, left behind extensive notes on a mystery he was researching: why thirteen escaped slaves reached freedom in Chaneysville only to die there, for reasons forgotten or never known at all.
Based on meticulous historical research, The Chaneysville Incident explores the power of our pasts, and paints a vivid portrait of realities such as the Underground Railroad’s activity in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and the phenomenon of enslaved people committing suicide to escape their fate. This extraordinary novel, a finalist for the National Book Award, was described by the Los Angeles Times as “perhaps the most significant work by a new black male author since James Baldwin dazzled in the early ’60s with his fine fury,” and placed David Bradley in the front ranks of contemporary American authors.
Beautifully written story that is thought provoking
I first read The Chaneysville Incident about 25 years ago, and I still recall how much it caused me to rethink my perceptions at the time. This is a great work that hasn't enjoyed the accolades that I had thought were a given.
Wonderful book not new
This novel is one of those books that can change how you see the world. The story telling is tight with a command of characterization and plot development that will take your breath away.
Peguin Books has so many good titles and this one comes from some time in the middle eightys.