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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois cover art

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Written by: Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
Narrated by: Adenrele Ojo,Karen Chilton,Prentice Onayemi
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Publisher's Summary

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB SELECTION

LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION • A FINALIST FOR THE KIRKUS PRIZE FOR FICTION • SHORTLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE • LONGLISTED FOR THE ASPEN WORDS LITERARY PRIZE

A New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year • A Time Must-Read Book of the Year • A Washington Post 10 Best Books of the Year • An Oprah Daily Top 20 Books of the Year • A BookPage Best Fiction Book of the Year • A Booklist 10 Best First Novels of the Year • A Kirkus 100 Best Novels of the Year • A Parade Pick • A Chicago Public Library Top 10 Best Books of the Year

An Instant Washington Post, USA Today, and Indie Bestseller

"Epic…. I was just enraptured by the lineage and the story of this modern African-American family…. A combination of historical and modern story—I’ve never read anything quite like it. It just consumed me." —Oprah Winfrey, Oprah Book Club Pick

An Indie Next Pick • A New York Times Book Everyone Will Be Talking About • A People 5 Best Books of the Summer • A Good Morning America 15 Summer Book Club Picks • An Essence Best Book of the Summer • A Washington Post 10 Books of the Month • A CNN Best Book of the Month • A Time 11 Best Books of the Month • A Ms. Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Goodreads Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A BookPage Writer to Watch • A USA Today Book Not to Miss • A Chicago Tribune Summer Must-Read • An Observer Best Summer Book • A Millions Most Anticipated Book • A Ms. Book of the Month • A Well-Read Black Girl Book Club Pick • A BiblioLifestyle Most Anticipated Literary Book of the Summer • A Deep South Best Book of the Summer • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award 

The 2020 NAACP Image Award-winning poet makes her fiction debut with this National Book Award-longlisted, magisterial epic—an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer—that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era. 

The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans—the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers—Ailey carries Du Bois’s problem on her shoulders.

Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead.

To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Honoree Fanonne Jeffers (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

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I wanted to like it more

This multigenerational tome was chosen purely as it was recommended by a book youtuber I follow. I really wanted to like this, but it was though I was reading a different novel to them. I started with this 30 hour audio but after a few hours bought the book too as I thought it was my fault that I found huge chunks of the novel long, flat and two dimensional (even though the narration was very good).

The historical sections were interesting (although too much sexual violence reported almost in passing with little effort to show the impact on the survivors or the community). The more contemporary main storyline of the very immature, precocious, Ailey and her romances was lengthly and not engaging. As a coming of age story I found I was largely uninterested in her growth or her ridiculous reasonings for her prickly and almost combative realations with her school/undergraduate peers.

That is until about the 550 page mark when the book started to tie together all the threads, Ailey finally gained some maturity and the emotional resonance that was missing from the first chunk of the novel was delivered (especially in the historical scenes). At that point I found I could not put the book down.

The character of Root was fasciating, and I did want to know what happened to Nick, but for such a sprawling choppy work the author did a great job in tying up so many threads at the conclusion of the novel.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of my favorite fiction books

Amazing book, the narration leaves something to be desired. The narrator uses whiney and or childish tones for several characters that makes it hard to listen to at times.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Magnificent story telling

One of the most satisfying novels I have ever read. The book spoke to me in an aesthetic so powerful and true that I at times had to put it down, gather my breath and start again. This author has produced a work of art for the ages.

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2 people found this helpful

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Amazing

Didn’t really like the end, I want it more of it, did she got married.!?

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1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic production and excellent story.

This is a very difficult listen but absolutely worth it. I would recommend this book to anyone.

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Great until the end

When I saw the length of this book, I was unsure if it would keep my interest until the end. It did not disappoint. It was so well written.

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