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The Taste of Saltby Martha Southgate
Synopses & Reviews
Award-winning novelist Martha Southgate (who, in the words of Julia Glass, "can write fat and hot, then lush and tender, then just plain truthful and burning with heart") now tells the story of a family pushed to its limits by addiction over the course of two generations.
Josie Henderson loves the water and is fulfilled by her position as the only senior-level black scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. In building this impressive life for herself, she has tried to shed the one thing she cannot: her family back in landlocked Cleveland. Her adored brother, Tick, was her childhood ally as they watched their drinking father push away all the love that his wife and children were trying to give him. Now Tick himself has been coming apart and demands to be heard.
Weaving four voices into a beautiful tapestry, Southgate charts the lives of the Hendersons from the parents' first charmed meeting to Josie's realization that the ways of the human heart are more complex than anything seen under a microscope.
"In her haunting fourth novel, Southgate (Third Girl from the Left) examines the complicated issues of race, family, love, and addiction. Josie Henderson is a widely respected scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts and prides herself on being the only senior-level African-American marine biologist there. Henderson loves her job and has a husband, Daniel, who adores her, but she can't shake her past of growing up with an alcoholic father. The story spins out, told through Josie's eyes and those of her brother, Tick, father, mother and husband after Josie goes back to her hometown of Cleveland to pick Tick up from his second stint in rehab. Southgate's arresting, fluid prose and authentic dialogue come together in a resonating study of relationships, where selfish tendencies among the various characters are revealed, as are their feelings of regret. A fascinating story that shows how the mistakes people make affect all those around them. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Martha Southgate's latest novel is a compelling story about how we fight to keep our pasts from dictating our futures; it is also a poignant exploration of the legacies our families leave us and the dangers of trying to deny them." Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
"The Taste of Salt is an extraordinarily moving and keenly sensitive tour de force that will linger in your mind and heart for a long time." James Hannaham, author of God Says No
"The tenderness and mystery that lie at the heart of every family, the secrets and lies and deep seas of love that make and unmake us, are the wellspring of this extraordinarily lovely and honest novel." Stacey D'Erasmo, author of The Sky Below
"With a lyrical style and obvious respect for her craft, Southgate has composed a compassionate, complex, and concentrated novel, tenderly powerful, that explores family bonds that last long after the family is dispersed." Booklist
"A haunting novel about the ways we hurt and are hurt by the people we love most in the world, and about how, despite that, we find solace in their love." Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road
"Martha Southgate has written a tender, confident, and unfussy novel about a marine biologist who tries to save herself by shutting out the human world. Of course, that never works, and her journey back toward connection gives this novel its charge. This book is a moving eulogy for lost loved ones and even for a lost, loved city, Cleveland. The Taste of Salt had me misting up by the end. For real." Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine
"[The Taste of Salt] hauntingly explores how the mistakes people make affect everyone around them." NPR.org
"Southgate brings a thoughtful intelligence to her downbeat tale." Christian Science Monitor
"Four voices tell this poignant story, making each page ache with a different shade of loneliness." People
"In The Taste of Salt, Southgate writes a minor-key melancholy that comes on softly, but lingers long after." Entertainment Weekly
"Martha Southgate delivers her most personal work ever...a heartbreaking and fascinating character study....In a virtuoso balancing act, Southgate tells this poignant story from other points of view." Essence
"[A] searing, gorgeous, brilliant and profoundly human novel about two generations of an African American family riding the slow-mo roller coaster of addiction." San Francisco Chronicle
"With compassion and quiet grief, Southgate examines the ways families self-destruct even as they try to hold together." BookPage
"The story of a family pushed to its limits by addiction over the course of two generations....Weaving four voices into a beautiful tapestry, Southgate charts the lives of the Hendersons from the parents first charmed meeting to Josie's realization that the ways of the human heart are more complex than anything seen under a microscope." Bookreporter.com
"A steady undercurrent of raw, complex emotions keeps the pages turning." Bust magazine
"Southgate does a wonderful job of telling Josie's story, touching on racism, sexism, alcoholism, and emotional infidelity....A good, attention-grabbing read." Library Journal
About the Author
Martha Southgate has been an editor at Essence, a reporter for Premiere and the New York Daily News, and a contributor to the New York Times. A graduate of Smith College, she has an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. Author of two acclaimed novels, The Fall of Rome and Third Girl from the Left, she has taught at Brooklyn College and the New School and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. Find her online at www.marthasouthgate.com.
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