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The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron

The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter

The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron
Oct 17, 2017 | 800 Pages
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    Oct 17, 2017 | 800 Pages

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    Jan 26, 2016 | 800 Pages

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    Jan 26, 2016 | 800 Pages

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The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter is a stunning novel. Kia Corthron plunges us into generations of American history, moving with force and subtlety through the charged realities of race, gender and region. It is a novel of ideas and politics, of psychological complexity and of vibrant, kinetic language.” —Margo Jefferson, Negroland

“Big, ambitious, challenging … It tells the 20th-century history of the United States through the intersecting lives of two white brothers and two black brothers. It is, by turns, tender, brutal and redemptive.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Sympathizer in a Q&A in the New York Times Book Review

“There are whole chunks of writing here that are simply sublime, places in which one gets swept away by the way she subverts the rhythm of language to illuminate the familiar and allow it to be seen fresh. …  [Corthron] blindsides you.  She sneaks up from behind.  Sometimes, it is with moments of humor, but more often with moments of raw emotional power — moments whose pathos feels hard-earned and true…. [The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter] succeeds admirably in a novel’s first and most difficult task: It makes you give a damn.  It also does well by a novel’s second task: It sends you away pondering what it has to say.”–Leonard Fitts Jr., The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)

“Kia Corthron’s first novel is a stunning achievement by any measure—a riveting saga of two twentieth-century American families trapped inside the quotidian contradictions and compulsions of race, disability, and sexuality.  The untidiness of history is conveyed through experiences, dreams, and inevitable eruptions of violence, yet also unexpected patterns of escape and possible orbits of justice.” —Angela Y. Davis, UC Santa Cruz

“When I first read it, I was stunned. It’s a haunting and devastating tale, leavened with humor and hope … I believe [The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter] is the most important piece of writing about twentieth-century America since James Baldwin’s Another Country.” —playwright Naomi Wallace quoted in Elle magazine

“Kia Corthron has written a magnificent, truly epic tale of the American Century told through the lives of two families, four brothers, three generations, big movements and small moments. It deserves a place among the great American novels precisely because it cuts to the very heart of America: the color line. In vivid, often breathtaking language, she reveals a changing world where love and sex and violence can rain down in the same cloudburst, and laughter and terror mingle easily, where the color line is not merely a barrier but a jump rope, a noose, a sign, and above all a tether that binds her characters and this country together.”  —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (2009)

“In the tradition of Toni Morrison, Alex Haley and Alice Walker, she makes the personal political, creating an epic portrayal of race in America.”–Ms. magazine

“Playwright Corthron’s big, open-hearted debut novel has echoes of noted writers from the mid-20th century, which serves as its backdrop: the social conscience of Steinbeck, the epic sweep of Ferber, the narrative quirks of Dos Passos. Reading Corthron’s novel adds racial context to the classic works of these earlier writers. The story follows two pairs of brothers: white Randall and B.J., who grow up in rural Alabama; and black Eliot and Dwight, who grow up in small-town Maryland. For all its size, this is a modestly plotted quartet of coming-of-age stories. It begins in 1941, with studious teenage Randall sharing his love of literature and his family history. B.J., who is five years his elder, is deaf, and Randall has become his de facto caretaker. Brilliant Eliot, who’s all of six years old, and hard-working Dwight, who’s 12, narrate the parallel storyline in counterpointed first-person chapters. Eliot’s rackety prose plays nicely off Dwight’s crisp, dutiful sentences. The story moves to the late ’50s, with all four young men growing up in the thick of the Civil Rights movement. Randall’s ambition and B.J.’s condition necessitate a separation, with Randall moving to New York. Eliot goes to law school and Dwight gets a sensible job as a postman. The story then moves to 1993; Eliot and Randall cross paths, as readers suspect they must, and there are consequences for both. Corthron jumps to 2010 for a lengthy epilogue. This huge novel has the intimacy of memoir; Corthron’s narrative voice makes it easy for readers to immerse themselves in the book, rarely coming up for air. (Jan.)” —Publishers Weekly


Center for Fiction First Novel Prize WINNER 2016

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