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Publisher's Summary

Instant New York Times best seller

"May this book cast its spell on all of us, restore to us some memory of our most warrior and softest selves." (The New York Times Book Review)

“A new kind of epic.... A grand achievement.... While The Prophets' dreamy realism recalls the work of Toni Morrison...its penetrating focus on social dynamics stands out more singularly.” (Entertainment Weekly)

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 masterfully 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

"What a rare marvel this book is. The Prophets fashions an epic so rich in erudition, wisdom, clarity and power, so full of hard-earned yet too-brief joys, that it reaffirms for me literature’s place as both balm and scalpel for the mind and soul. You can feel the decades of thinking embedded not only in these sentences but in how they question and build a world shamefully amputated from textbooks. Rarely is a book this finely wrought, the lives and histories it holds so tenderly felt, and rendered unforgettably true." (Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous)

"The Prophets is easily the most superb tutorial in writing and loving I have ever read. I’m convinced Morrison, Baldwin, and Bambara sat around sipping wine one night, talking about the day we'd read an offering like The Prophets. Robert Jones, Jr. is a once-in-a-generation cultural worker whose art thankfully will be imitated for generations." (Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir)

"I've loved the writing of Robert Jones, Jr., for years, and The Prophets is an absolute triumph, a symphonic evocation of the heights and depths of pain, joy, and love." (R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries)

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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.

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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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  • 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
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  • Denis Adair
  • 2021-03-28

A classic is born

This is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read, and Karen Chilton's extraordinary narration brings another layer to this masterpiece of literature.

The characters, the language, the story are perfection on a page.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-03-17

A Classic Years Ahead of Itself.

The words are so decadent. I'm grateful to have heard; to have witnessed this masterpiece.

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  • Sarah
  • 2021-03-13

Beautiful and Raw

I started this book apprehensively, unsure if I would be able to understand and relate to any of the characters and the story being told. This was not an easy read, but it wasn't meant to be. Full of love, light, struggle and loss this story touched me deeply. Ms. Chilton did a brilliant job bringing this story to life.

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  • Theresa A. Howarth
  • 2021-03-11

excellent!!!

poetic, powerful, beautifully and richly written. just outstanding!! narration was wonderful as well! I highly recommended!!

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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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  • gail
  • 2021-02-27

So beautiful

so beautifully written, so beautifully narrated at times the prose just took my breath away.

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  • JBHarris
  • 2021-02-24

Incredible

I loved the story. I cheered, wept and re-read it. I will be recommending this to other people!