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Publisher's Summary

Best Book of the Year: NPR • The Washington Post • Boston Globe • TIME • USA Today • Entertainment Weekly • Real Simple • Parade • Buzzfeed • Electric Literature • LitHub • BookRiot • PopSugar • Goop • Library Journal • BookBub • KCRW

Finalist for the National Book Award

One of the New York Times' Notable Books of the Year

One of the New York Times' Best Historical Fiction of the Year

Instant New York Times Best Seller 

A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence. 

Isaiah was Samuel's and Samuel was Isaiah's. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man - a fellow slave - seeks to gain favor by preaching the master's gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel's love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation's harmony. 

With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr., fiercely summons the voices of slaver and enslaved alike, from Isaiah and Samuel to the calculating slave master to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries - of ancestors and future generations to come - culminates in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets fearlessly reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.

©2021 Robert Jones, Jr. (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

Winner of the Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White Award
Finalist for the Ernest J. Gaines Award For Literary Excellence
Finalist for the Crook's Corner Book Prize
Finalist for the Prix Médicis Etrange

Longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

#1 Indie Next Pick 

One of: 
The New York Times Book Review's Books to Watch for in January 
The Washington Post's 10 Books to Read in January
TIME's 10 New Books You Should Read in January
O, the Oprah Magazine's 32 LGBTQ Books That Will Change the Literary Landscape in 2021
Cosmopolitan’s New LGBTQ+ Books to Add to Your Reading List
Entertainment Weekly’s 14 Books to Read During Black History Month
Good Morning America’s Best Books to Read this January 
Marie Claire's Must-Read 2021 Book Releases by Black Authors 
CNN’s Best Books of January
NBC News’ 10 Best Fiction Books by Black Authors in 2021
Harper's Bazaar's Winter's Best New Releases
Reader's Digest's Most Anticipated Books of 2021
BuzzFeed’s Most Anticipated Historical Fiction of 2021
Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2021
Electric Literature's Most Anticipated Debuts of 2021
The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of 2021
Thrillist’s 30 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2021
Spy’s Best and Most Anticipated Books of 2021
Read It Forward’s Favorite Reads of January 2021
The Root’s Most Anticipated Books by Black Authors in 2021
The Advocate’s Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books of 2021
St. Louis Magazine’s Must-Read Books of 2021
Debutiful’s Best Debuts of January
Lambda Literary's Most Anticipated LGBTQ Books of January 
LGBTQ Read’s Most Anticipated LGBTQIAP Fiction of 2021 Picks
Kirkus Reviews' Most Anticipated Books of the Fall
TheBody’s 5 Essential Summer Reads by Queer Authors
TheGrio’s Top 50 Books to Read This Summer
Vibe’s 15 Best Fictional Books by Black Authors

"An extraordinary, vivid novel written with heart and imagination....The Prophets really dazzles." –NPR, Weekend Edition

"A lyrical and rebellious love story." The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

What listeners say about The Prophets

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Beautiful language and characters

I can't say I've felt this way before but I almost feel like I need to read this book again. The language was so beautiful and the characters were so wonderfully fleshed out, but I worry that in all that I still may have missed some things. I felt lost at times and had to go back a re-read/re-listen to sections multiple times. I very much appreciate that, despite it being a book centred around two male characters, there were many female characters who were whole and really created the atmosphere surrounding the story.

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Tough read but worth it

well read. the characters come alive through Karen. the writing puts you in the time and place. difficult to listen to in parts which is what it should be.

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  • Des
  • 2021-04-18

LOVED IT

Finally finished ‘The Prophets’ by Robert Jones Jr aka Son of Baldwin. Let me first say that this book had some of most beautiful writing that I’ve ever read. On multiple occasions, I stopped and reread a sentence, purely out of amazement for the word play. I toggled back and forth between the physical book and audible recording. The narration by black woman’s soulful voice made me feel like she loved the characters and me! 😂

Secondly, the story touched every emotion for me: anxiety, fear, elation, love, heartbreak, despair. At times, I had to take week long breaks in between chapters, just to settle myself. Then, just when I thought that I was prepared for the ending....I.WAS.NOT!

Finally, even as a fictional story, the perils that black people have faced through the centuries resonated with me and rung my core like a bell. I love us.

GO AND GET YOUR COPY
ALL THE PRAISE ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
ALL THE STARS ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

15 people found this helpful

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  • Barbara S
  • 2021-01-16

lyrical

“The Prophets” by Robert Jones Jr is a lyrical love story of two gay boys during antebellum time in Mississippi. Jones wanted to write a story about gay slaves because none have been written. What was breathtaking to me was his lyrical prose while writing of the evils and horrifying conditions of slavery. His melodious tones make the indignities deeper in the soul.

It took a long time for me to get into the story. I listened to the audible production narrated by Karen Chiton’s soothing voice. It was her voice that kept me listening when I might have given up. Her voice is pitch perfect.

Jones writes a beautiful love story of two souls attempting to find dignity in the hellish conditions they find themselves. The slaves themselves and their lives are the focal of the story. The plantation owners occupy less of the story, as it’s mostly the slaves finding ways to survive unwieldly commands and ridiculous demands. It’s a story of survival.

This isn’t really a hard edged slave story, for me anyway. The prose creates a literary, almost dream-like (at times) story of perseverance during a horrendous time in Black history. It’s difficult to explain how lyrical prose affects blinding cruelty. Jones has written a deeply moving story.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Theodoron
  • 2021-07-09

Excellent

Wonderful story and beautifully narrated. I couldn’t put it down. The prose is woven in wonderful detail like an intricate quilt. The characters came alive with depth and emotion. A must hear for the story and the narration.

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  • jess
  • 2021-06-30

Brilliant!

The words are silk and the performance is outstanding. I expected nothing less from Robert Jones Jr., but this piece has far exceeded my expectations. Thank you, Mr. Jones.

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  • Crystal Watson
  • 2021-03-05

Disjointed & hard to follow

I gave it my best shot but I had to put it down. It's hard to follow. Perhaps it would be better if I had a physical book in my hands to go back & re-read again but in audiobook format, I just felt like I was always lost.

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  • John ROBERTSON
  • 2021-06-09

Fresh Old News

Just when you figure you've read enough slave literature- something old, something borrowed, something blue

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  • The Dactyl
  • 2021-06-16

Amazing story.

Amazing story, beautiful narration. Unfortunately, there were a few audio quality issues/inconsistencies at times, but overall a really fantastic listen.

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  • Mark McMahon
  • 2021-05-27

Compelling

A truly compelling story that is more truth than fiction. The writing is damn impressive and flows from his pen like it was Robert’s blood writing it. Each character is fully developed and his writing makes you feel like you know their inner thoughts.

Can’t wait for the next chapter in his book of life.

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  • C. FREEMAN
  • 2021-01-17

Brilliant elegant but

Oh I loved the first 80%; I wish Jones had made a different plot decision with Samuel and Timothy. An ambitious and stunning book. Some Morrison; some Angels in America. Lots of originality. But....

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  • Dr. Bill- Northern NJ-USA
  • 2021-01-15

Disappointing

After the expectations and reviews--I really anticipated appreciating this more that I did--hopefully his next ventures will be more fulfilling for me.

1 person found this helpful