The Prophets (Hardcover)

The Prophets Cover Image
$27.00
On Our Shelves Now. Click on title for location specific availability.
28th Street
5 on hand, as of Jan 18 11:02pm
(Fiction - General)
Okemos
6 on hand, as of Jan 18 11:02pm
(Fiction - General)

January 2021 Indie Next List


“I am at a loss for words. How can I even begin to describe the breathtaking language Robert Jones, Jr. has gifted us in his debut novel, The Prophets? How can I begin to explain how he achieves a feat so marvelous it almost seems impossible? Well, that’s the key word: almost. From his innovative restructuring of the Bible through the lens of America’s history with slavery to characters that leap off the page with colorful grace and dignity, Jones masterfully weaves a narrative that serves as a warning from the past, a prophecy for the future, and a testament to the present. His writing defies all great American novels that have come before, and in doing so becomes one of the greatest I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I can’t wait for everyone to be as spellbound by this book as I am; it will stay with me forever.”
— Gage Tarlton, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

Description


An Instant New York Times Bestseller 

"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.

About the Author


Robert Jones, Jr., was born and raised in New York City. He received his BFA in creative writing with honors and MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, Essence, OkayAfrica, The Feminist Wire, and The Grio. He is the creator of the social justice social media community Son of Baldwin. Jones was recently featured in T Magazine's cover story, "Black Male Writers of Our Time." The Prophets is his debut novel.

Praise For…


A #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 
O, the Oprah Magazine's 32 LGBTQ Books That Will Change the Literary Landscape in 2021
Good Morning America’s Best Books to Read this January 
TIME's 10 New Books You Should Read in January
CNN’s Best Books of January

BuzzFeed’s Most Anticipated Historical Fiction of 2021
PopSugar's Best Books of January 
Lit Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2021
Electric Literature's Most Anticipated Debuts of 2021
The Millions' Most Anticipated 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


“[An] often lyrical and rebellious love story embedded within a tender call-out to Black readers, reaching across time and form to shake something old, mighty in the blood…The Prophets attempts to give its Black characters and Black audience the same gifts—our right names, our Black knowing, a freedom outside of time and circumstance....What a fiery kindness that ending, this book. A book I entered hesitantly, cautiously, I exited anew—something in me unloosed, running. 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

“With this epic novel, Jones, who is known for his blogging and Twitter presence as Son of Baldwin, marks his entry into the literary arena....The greatest gift of this novel is its efforts to render emotional interiority to enslaved people who are too often depicted either as vessels for sadistic violence or as noble, superhuman warriors for liberation....Jones’s debut novel is an important contribution to American letters, Black queer studies and the present moment’s profound reckoning with the legacy of America’s racialized violence.” The Washington Post

“Robert Jones, Jr.’s debut novel The Prophets feels like it might be a classic one day….Kaleidoscopic…Audre Lorde wrote ‘Unless one lives and loves in the trenches, it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless.’ An ambitious debut, The Prophets is right there in the trenches, firing shots.” ­–San Francisco Chronicle

The Prophets, Jones’ debut novel, is a marvel, as much an extraordinary queer love story as a devastating and inimitable portrayal of the agony endured by slaves in the antebellum South….Jones’ stunning storytelling crafts deep and powerful portraits of not only Samuel and Isaiah, but also the many others at the plantation….Each chapter is its own work of art, delving deep into each character’s heart and mind and creating a rhythmic tapestry of profound love and unbearable pain....The Prophets is a novel, but feels almost like poetry, with every word holding a weight and power that will continue to astound those who lose themselves in its pages.” –Associated Press

“Along comes Robert Jones, Jr., who taps into his brilliant dome to unearth an engrossing and magically written debut novel, The Prophets….The Prophets is packed with otherworldly, and supremely artful storytelling, and readers will surely get lost in a radiant romance.” USA Today

“A striking debut…Exceptional storytelling…There is no minor character in The Prophets, which delivers a dazzling gallery of unforgettable portraits....And by highlighting lives over plantation life—the humanity of the slaves over the inhumanity of slavery—the narrative remains centered on a Blackness with an imagination that doesn’t need whiteness in order to exist, breathe or even be free.” Los Angeles Times

“In his powerful debut novel, The Prophets, Robert Jones, Jr. depicts in exquisite, often excruciating detail the social ruination that slavery brought to the antebellum South….Labeling The Prophets a ‘gay slave story’ fails to fully describe its ambition and imaginative richness. Jones’ astounding achievement is to open a world where love somehow dares to speak its name alongside our greatest national shame.” Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Although The Prophets is his debut novel, Robert Jones Jr. is no stranger to critical thinking in craft, criticism and analysis. Jones, and his stunner of a novel, embody what can only be called art....Operatic…As the story layers itself and picks up to a devastating pace toward the end, it bursts forth in a crack of lightning and the reader is left aflame. The Prophets is an astounding book, at once potent and universe-level expansive, a sky unto itself. With it—and with his work at Son of Baldwin—Jones establishes himself as a writer, thinker and creative force to watch.” The Seattle Times

“[A] scintillating portrait of Black queerness and a bleak account of slavery in the antebellum South, captured in Jones’ lyrical yet incisive prose.” TIME
 

“Powerful…This beautifully written story is heartbreaking and inspiring all at once.” CNN 

“A polyphonic novel, with exactingly rendered characters, about the love between two men enslaved on a Mississippi plantation.” Vanity Fair

“In a can’-t-miss debut, Robert Jones, Jr. fashions a nuanced story of love and legacy.” Elle

"A brutal and beautiful love story between two enslaved men on a Mississippi plantation, a tale of rage and grace, of refuge among the ruins.” O, the Oprah Magazine

"A love story of the most tragic proportions, revered writer Robert Jones, Jr. uses his debut novel to pry open our collective hearts." Entertainment Weekly

“In this powerful novel about a Deep South plantation, enslaved Isaiah and Samuel share a private, abiding love that’s a refuge from the daily brutality they endure—and that has consequences for everyone around them. The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. is an original, heartbreaking testament to love, and to the supremacy of good over evil.” Real Simple

“[A] bewitching literary debut…Jones’ strength lies in his ability to build interior worlds so imaginative and lush that it would be dreamy if it weren’t such a nightmare for the enslaved people tethered to it....[An] important new work and an integral addition to this period’s literary canon alongside works such as Charles R. Johnson’s Middle Passage and Marlon James’ The Book of Night Women.” Atlanta Journal Constitution
 
The Prophets chronicles much cruelty and misery and violence, as is inevitable in a book about slavery. But it’s not really a pessimistic book. Rather, the novel itself functions as an act of love and resistance, by expressing solidarity with those who love despite sanctions and oppression. Patriarchy and white supremacy insist on rigid roles for Black and white, male and female. The Prophets imagines a different past, and a different future.” The Observer

“It is not hyperbole to say that The Prophets…evokes the best of Toni Morrison, while being its own distinct and virtuosic work….This, then, is a novel wedded to its period but also of our times, exploring the pressing questions that have plagued America since its founding….Black queer love is at its most radical here. It represents a non-utilitarian love, a love that resists debasement. It delights and rages. Through it, the human demands to be seen. It becomes, in this magnificent novel, synonymous with freedom.” The Guardian

The Prophets is the kind of book for which one reading will not suffice. To understand it fully, you must return to its pages again. It is elusive in the best kind of way, written in a style that evokes—but does not mimic—Toni Morrison’s otherworldly poetic prose, where every word is heavy with meaning.” Shondaland

The Prophets heralds the arrival of a monumental talent in Robert Jones, Jr., whose debut novel has the vibrating power of a thunder clap and the tender intimacy of a secret whispered by a loved one in the darkest night....Though Jones, Jr. is unflinching in his portrayal of the evils of white supremacy and fanaticism, he threads his novels with shimmering strands of hope, of heroism, and of reminders of how humanity has persevered even in the most inhumane of times.” Refinery29

“A beautifully written narrative that explores gender and race from several characters’ points of view, The Prophets invites readers to reconsider their understanding of sexuality and reconnect with our shared humanity.” PopSugar

“This book, with its tender intimacy, its empathetic rendering of complex humanity, its gut-wrenching portrayals of crimes against humanity, its moving love story, will not disappoint.” Lit Hub

“This beautifully written debut novel—and likely award magnet—is a love story about two enslaved men, Isaiah and Samuel, whose devotion to each other leads to trouble on a brutally run Mississippi plantation.” AARP

“Kaleidoscopic…Anchored by the love story of two young men, this lyrical story evokes a vast spectrum of emotion and creates an epic that feels epic in scope, but also like each chapter is its own private universe.” –Northern Virginia Magazine

“Jones explores queerness through a new lens that has rarely been explored in literature. The Prophets is one of the most powerful Black queer historical novels ever written.” Electric Literature

“An epic tale of Black queerness…With The Prophets, it is clear [Jones] is following in James Baldwin’s literary footsteps….Magnificent.” Hey Alma

“Powerful and beautiful…The lyricism of The Prophets will recall the prose of James Baldwin. The strong cadences are equal to those in Faulkner’s Light in August. Sometimes the utterances in the short interpolated chapters seem as orphic as those in Thus Spake Zarathustra. If my comparisons seem excessive, they are rivaled only by Jones’s own pages and pages of acknowledgments. It seems it takes a village to make a masterpiece.” Publishers Weekly (starred Signature review by Edmund White)

“Robert Jones Jr.’s remarkable first novel, The Prophets, accomplishes the exceptional literary feat of being at once an intimate, poetic love story and a sweeping, detailed and excruciating portrait of life on a Mississippi plantation....Though this is his first book, Jones is already a master stylist, writing gorgeous, lyrical and readable prose about some of the ugliest things that human beings feel and do to one another. Sometimes the prose reads like scripture. At other times, it’s poetry…[A] beautifully wrought, exceptionally accomplished queer love story about two men finding extraordinary connection in the most hostile and difficult of circumstances. This debut will be savored and remembered.” BookPage (starred review)

“Brims with so much confidence and artful flourish that it’s hard to believe it’s Jones’s first book. Following a line of esteemed authors, he explores the story of enslavement in America and makes it his own….Jones’s expertly drawn characters have depth and purpose, and the writing is beautiful despite the subject matter. A work that will resonate with those moved by Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage and Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad.” Library Journal (starred review)

"Exquisite...Jones conveys powerful truths with well-chosen words in spare prose....A masterfully told story that will haunt readres from beginning to end." Booklist (starred review) 

“An ambitious, imaginative, and important tale of Black queerness through history.” –Kirkus Reviews

“How devastating and glorious this is. Epic in its scale, intimate in its force, and lyrical in its beauty. The Prophets shakes right down to the bone what the American novel is, should do, and can be. That shuffling sound you hear is Morrison, Baldwin, and Angelou whooping and hollering both in pride, and wonder.” –Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf

“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

“In The Prophets, Robert Jones, Jr.’s lens is at once epic and microscopic, equally capable of evoking historical crises and interpersonal ones. Painfully harsh and painfully tender, this inventive, kaleidoscopic love story is a marvel.” –Helen Phillips, author of The Need


Product Details
ISBN: 9780593085684
ISBN-10: 059308568X
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: January 5th, 2021
Pages: 400