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Publisher's Summary

An 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)

What listeners say about The Prophets

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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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  • Richard
  • 2021-01-17

very misleading in the sample

I wasted my credit I'm not homophobic but I don't want to read of this wish this would have been in the discreption....waste of money for any straight man don't do it