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Wings of Red by James W. Jennings
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Wings of Red by James W. Jennings
Paperback $16.95
Nov 21, 2023 | ISBN 9781593767099

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  • Nov 21, 2023 | ISBN 9781593767099

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“June . . . navigates his circumstances and city life with grit and grace.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Striking and original . . . A thoughtful meditation on artistic aspirations, financial hardship and the multiple meanings of home.” —Jackie Thomas-Kennedy, The Star Tribune

“Told in an epistolary format of journal entries, this work of autofiction invites the reader to experience the visceral immediacy of June’s life through his clever and humorous voice.” —Katherine Ouellette, WBUR

“The authenticity of Jennings’ voice and his clear knowledge of what and where he writes—whether it be the exchanges he has with students, conversations with friends, the complicated family issues, his time in New York, on the Vineyard, and on the bus that gets him from the city to Woods Hole—allows readers to truly enter his world.” —Kate Feiffer, The Martha’s Vineyard Times

“[June] is a nuanced character full of humanity, and following him through the city as he navigates all sorts of existential journeys is a deeply immersive and beautiful experience.” —Sarah Neilson, Shondaland

“With a cast of relatable characters and witty observations, Jennings takes on the paradox that is the American Dream.” —Alex Faccibene, Geek Girl Authority

“Jennings performs a magic trick . . . While Wings of Red dances playfully at the edge of aimlessness, it carries you steadily into emotional and existential climax. A refrain of ‘this is home too’ leads June back to a self that he ultimately finds within members of his family . . . Among the most enduring takeaways offered up by Wings of Red is that the shape of progress is not fixed. You may not even know it for what it is until after you leave it behind. But once it comes, no one can take that knowing from you. They can only watch to see what you do with it.” —Gianni Washington, Chicago Review of Books

“The stylish narrative voice propels this book. Jennings’ point of view is unlike any other.” —Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful, A Most Anticipated Book of 2023

“Driven by June Paper’s distinctive narrative style, Wings of Red features a compelling voice that intimately and openly leads readers through the tumultuous external world of a Black educator, both in their personal and professional life, as it unravels and eventually mends. Within this narrative, a cast of authentic characters strives to achieve their aspirations despite the precarious professional and financial challenges they face. Wings of Red not only highlights the illusion of the American dream but also underscores the potency and importance of autofiction.” —Paridhi Badgotri, Platform

“In this exciting and insightful work of autofiction, James W. Jennings lays bare the absurdities of the New York City educational system while also offering a memorable look at the beauties and burdens of the city overall . . . While the American dream may be a fallacy, Jennings’s writing reaches for something better for his characters at every turn.” —Michael Welch, Chicago Review of Books

“Compelling . . . The narrative voice is the main strength of Jennings’ novel, pared down and energetic in the fast pace of June’s mutable life, turning more reflective and philosophical as June directly addresses readers, sharing insightful musings about his circumstances. An unexpected optimism propels June forward and the reader along with him. This is a realistic, hopeful, and uniquely told story that will engage fans of Jason Mott, especially Hell of a Book (2021).” —Booklist

“The reader will quickly sink into [Jennings’] rhythm and appreciate the lively nature of his present-tense verbiage and his quick syntax . . . A portrait of a writer that is at once harsh and tender.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A gritty yet hopeful novel . . . June’s voice will hook readers from the jump with its mix of cheekiness and sincerity.” —Publishers Weekly

“Much like the author himself, Wings of Red is totally unique and individual, and yet finds deep points of connection and understanding. Written for the teacher and the student in us but also the brother, mother, and friend we hope to be, this is a story that breaks all the rules in the best of ways.” —Mathea Morais, author of There You Are

“Tender-hearted and tough-minded, James W. Jennings is a necessary writer for these harsh times. His novel Wings of Red records the daily life of June, a young Black man, a struggling writer, and a substitute teacher. June’s consciousness reveals the contemporary moment. Wings of Red is genuine and honest, a diaristic bildungsroman through which Jennings renders June’s past and present, as June seeks to understand his past and present. June’s startling ingenuousness and compassionate heart is beautiful and revelatory. Written in a stunning style, demolishing cliches and stereotypes, Jennings recharges writing with flair and hope: He is an original in every sense of the word. I love Wings of Red.” —Lynne Tillman, author of MOTHERCARE and Men and Apparitions

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