Spring/Summer '09 Reading Group List
“Song Yet Song is a compelling story of slaves' struggle for freedom in pre-Civil War Dorchester County, Maryland, where enslaved blacks lived alongside free blacks. The unpredictable human behavior that continues through the novel reinforces the idea that slavery came -- and comes -- in many forms, to money, to power, to ideas of others more powerful. This is a wonderfully readable book that questions what freedom really is, and it's an outstanding book club pick!”
— Helen Markus, HearthFire Books of Evergreen, Evergreen, CO
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, Deacon King Kong, 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.
About the Author
Awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama, James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, the #1 bestselling American classic The Color of Water, and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee. He is also the author of Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography. McBride is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.
“McBride keeps the suspense high as he raises troubling questions about slavery’s legacy, the price of freedom and what it means to be human.”—People
"McBride...can deliver the cauterizing power of anger without the corrosive effects of bitterness....It just might turn out to be balm for a wound that has so far stubbornly refused to heal."—The New York Times
"Gripping, affecting, and beautifully paced, Song Yet Sung illuminates, in the most dramatic fashion, a deeply troubled, vastly complicated moment in American history."—O, The Oprah Magazine
"Powerful...A complex, ever-tightening, increasingly suspenseful web."—The Washington Post Book World
"Engrossing."—The Seattle Times
"Let McBride's beautiful language carry you back to his version of Dorchester County, Maryland, in 1850.... Noble and profound."—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Prepare yourself for a thrilling ride."—Essence
"It's hard to imagine anyone being able to write to the caliber of Toni Morrison and Edward P. Jones, but James McBride does just that in Song Yet Sung....McBride's characters stick with you long after the novel is finished."—The Dallas Morning News
"A raw and captivating story of a runaway female slave and a slave catcher, both seeking freedom, forgiveness, and love."—Ebony
"Deceptively simple, the narrative is clean, spare, and relentless...Beautiful."—Portland Oregonian