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A Million Nightingalesby Susan Straight
Synopses & Reviews
A haunting, beautifully written novel set in early-nineteenth-century Louisiana: the tale of a slave girl's journey — emotional and physical — from captivity to freedom.
Susan Straight has been called "a writer of exceptional gifts and grace" (Joyce Carol Oates). In A Million Nightingales she brings those gifts to bear on the story of Moinette, daughter of an African mother and a white father she never knew. While her mother cares for the plantation linens, Moinette tends to the master's daughter, which allows her to eavesdrop on lessons. She also learns that she is property, and at fourteen she is sold, separated from her mother without a chance to say goodbye. Heartbroken and terrified, and with a full understanding of what she will risk, Moinette begins almost immediately to prepare herself for the moment when she will escape.
It is Moinette's own voice that we hear — bright, rhythmic, observant, and altogether captivating — as she describes her journey through a world of brutality, sexual violence, and loss. Quick to see the patterns of French, American, and African life play out around her, Moinette makes her way from sugarcane fields through mysterious bayous to the streets of Opelousas, where the true meaning of freedom emerges from the bonds of love.
An uncommonly rich novel, brimming with event and character, A Million Nightingales is a powerful confirmation of the remarkable novelist we have in Susan Straight.
"Straight's book is a deep consideration of the servitude all women experienced then...her novel is, besides, a powerful and moving story, written in language so beautiful you can almost believe the words themselves are capable of salving history's wounds." New York Times
"From the first beautiful sentence, I felt transported to a world as vivid as the one outside my window. Moinette is one of those rare characters who enlarges both our sense of history and our humanity." Judith Freeman, author of Red Water
"In all of her novels, Susan Straight has given voice to characters whose struggles for dignity and love have been fought on the twentieth-century battleground of race; with A Million Nightingales she digs even deeper into our common ground. But it is love and humanity, not race, that ultimately gives such wrenching power to A Million Nightingales — a beautiful, redemptive novel." Kate Moses, author of Wintering
"Poetic but fierce, this is Susan Straight's most ambitious — and successful — novel yet." Vendela Vida, author of And Now You Can Go
Haunting and beautifully written, this novel of 19th-century Louisiana is the tale of a slave girl's journey — emotional and physical — from captivity to freedom.
From National Book Award finalist Susan Straight comes a haunting historical novel about a Louisiana slave girl's perilous journey to freedom.Daughter of an African mother and a white father she never knew, Moinette is a house maid on a plantation south of New Orleans. At fourteen she is sold, separated from her mother without a chance to say goodbye. Bright, imaginative and well aware of everything she risks, Moinette at once begins to prepare for an opportunity to escape. Inspired by a true story, A Million Nightingales portrays Moinettes experience-and the treacherous world she must navigate-with uncommon richness, intricacy, and drama.
About the Author
Susan Straight's novels include I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots, Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights, The Gettin Place and Highwire Moon, which was a finalist for The National Book Award. Her essays have appeared in Harper's, Salon.com, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The New York Times, and on NPR's All Things Considered, as well as in women's magazines such as Real Simple and Family Circle. Her short stories have appeared in McSweeney's and Zoetrope, among other publications. Among her honors and awards are the California Book Prize, a Lannan Foundation Award, A Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize and a Best American Short Story Award. Straight was born in Riverside and lives there with her three daughters.
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