The great evil of slavery came cloaked in many guises. This breathtaking debut novel shines a light on blacks who owned slaves.
African-American Henry Townsend, one of the book's central characters, is derived from historical figures. Born into bondage in antebellum Virginia, he gains his freedom only to become a most willing slave owner himself. From Townsend's small plantation and its row of slave cabins, Jones (who wrote the National Book Award-nominated story collection Lost in the City) brilliantly enlarges his story to include everyone (black and white, owner and slave) within the boundaries of the mythical Manchester County. All are differently crippled by the madness inflicted by slavery in their world. Though the large cast and multiple story lines require patience, you will be rewarded many times over by Jones's masterful ability to convey even the most despicable aspects of the nation's history with humanity and poetic language. This disturbing, magical novel will touch you in a profound way.