An NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literary Work (Fiction)
A Washington Post Notable Book of 2016
"Simply miraculous...As her saga becomes ever more spellbinding, so does the reader's astonishment at the magic she creates. This is a story about the triumph of the human spirit over bigotry, intolerance and cruelty, and at the center of The Book of Harlan is the restorative force that is music.”
-- Washington Post
“Another one of Bernice L. McFadden’s masterpieces…McFadden took me on a melodious literary journey through time and place—complex, real, beautifully raw, and necessary…McFadden’s prose lingers, giving me courage to stay committed to telling authentic stories that, while revealing of unspeakable truths, serve to unite us all.”
-- The Millions
"I've finally discovered a writer I should've been reading for years!...McFadden has a gift for placing her characters into the vivid history swirling around them, but keeping their emotional experience front and center in the story. There's a Zora Neale Hurston sensibility to the way she does that."
-- MPR News, Kerri Miller's Must-Read
"McFadden's writing breaks the heart--and then heals it again. The perspective of a black man in a concentration camp is unique and harrowing and this is a riveting, worthwhile read."
-- Toronto Star
" The Book of Harlan is an incredible read. Bernice McFadden…has created an amazing novel that speaks to lesser known aspects of the African-American experience and illuminates the human heart and spirit. Her spare prose is rich in details that convey deep emotions and draw the reader in. This fictional narrative of Harlan Elliot’s life is firmly grounded amidst real people and places—prime historical fiction, and the best book I have read this year.”
-- Historical Novels Review, Editors’ Choice
"McFadden packs a powerful punch with tight prose and short chapters that bear witness to key events in early twentieth-century history: both World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Great Migration. Partly set in the Jim Crow South, the novel succeeds in showing the prevalence of racism all across the country--whether implemented through institutionalized mechanisms or otherwise. Playing with themes of divine justice and the suffering of the righteous, McFadden presents a remarkably crisp portrait of one average man's extraordinary bravery in the face of pure evil."
-- Booklist, Starred review
"Through this character portrait of Harlan, McFadden has constructed a vivid, compelling narrative that makes historical fiction an accessible, literary window into the African-American past and some of the contemporary dilemmas of the present."
-- Publishers Weekly
“McFadden’s impressive achievement offers us a window into the often very difficult lives of African Americans from the Jim Crow era up to the present--and, unexpectedly, in wartime Germany. Highly recommended for showing us that however badly black citizens have historically been treated, black lives matter.”
-- Library Journal
The Book of Harlan opens with the courtship of Harlan's parents and his 1917 birth in Macon, Georgia. After his prominent minister grandfather dies, Harlan and his parents move to Harlem, where he eventually becomes a professional musician. When Harlan and his best friend, trumpeter Lizard Robbins, are invited to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre--affectionately referred to as "The Harlem of Paris" by black American musicians--Harlan jumps at the opportunity, convincing Lizard to join him.
But after the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, Harlan and Lizard are thrown into Buchenwald--the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany--irreparably changing the course of Harlan's life. Based on exhaustive research and told in McFadden's mesmeric prose, The Book of Harlan skillfully blends the stories of McFadden's familial ancestors with those of real and imagined characters.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
"McFadden works a kind of miracle—not only do her characters retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises . . . Beautiful and evocative."
-- Jesmyn Ward, New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice), on Gathering of Waters
"Read it aloud. Hire a chorus to chant it to you and anyone else interested in hearing about civil rights and uncivil desires."
-- Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered (NPR), on Gathering of Waters
The Book of Harlan opens with the courtship of Harlan’s parents and his 1917 birth in Macon, Georgia. After his prominent minister grandfather dies, Harlan and his parents move to Harlem, where he becomes a musician. Soon, Harlan and his best friend, trumpeter Lizard Robbins, are lured across the Atlantic Ocean to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre--affectionately referred to as “The Harlem of Paris” by black American musicians.
When the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, Harlan and Lizard are thrown into Buchenwald, the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany. The experience irreparably changes the course of Harlan’s life. Based on exhaustive research and told in McFadden’s mesmeric prose, The Book of Harlan skillfully blends the stories of McFadden’s familial ancestors with those of real and imagined characters.
Bernice L. McFadden is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a three-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of three awards from the BCALA. McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York.
In 2004 I read Firpo W. Carr's book Germany's Black Holocaust: 1890- 1945, and was immediately intrigued. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, "The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder."
I realized that while much had been written about the Jewish victims, the fate of Africans and African Americans at the hands of the Nazis was less well documented.
I was fascinated by this discovery and set about writing a story that would illuminate this hidden verity. But for many years, the story seemed out of my reach as I struggled to find a connection with the characters.
Luckily for me, early attempts at creating the story coincided with my ongoing personal genealogy research. For some twenty years I've been consumed with investigating my paternal line; specifically my grandfather, Harold McFadden, who was entirely absent from my father's life, thus a mystery to both of us.
When I decided to model Harlan Elliott after my grandfather, all that I had been struggling with came to an end. It was as if I had found the golden key; suddenly the foreign became familiar and the novel unfurled as naturally as a flower in spring.
--Bernice L. McFadden
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Akashic Books, 2016. Soft cover. Book Condition: New. This is an advance reading, soft cover, uncorrected proof copy. These editions are issued prior to publication in small numbers and often are marked as first editions.FULL COLOR COVER. Bookseller Inventory # 001301
Book Description Akashic Books, 2016. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P111617754455
Book Description Akashic Books, 2016. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 1617754455