The Book of Harlan (Paperback)

The Book of Harlan By Bernice L. McFadden Cover Image
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Description


During WWII, two African American musicians are captured by the Nazis in Paris and imprisoned at the Buchenwald concentration camp.


“Simply miraculous . . . As her saga becomes ever more spellbinding, so does the reader’s astonishment at the magic she creates. This is a story about the triumph of the human spirit over bigotry, intolerance and cruelty, and at the center of The Book of Harlan is the restorative force that is music.” —Washington Post


“McFadden’s writing breaks the heart—and then heals it again. The perspective of a black man in a concentration camp is unique and harrowing and this is a riveting, worthwhile read.” —Toronto Star


The Book of Harlan opens with the courtship of Harlan’s parents and his 1917 birth in Macon, Georgia. After his prominent minister grandfather dies, Harlan and his parents move to Harlem, where he eventually becomes a professional musician. When Harlan and his best friend, trumpeter Lizard Robbins, are invited to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre—affectionately referred to as “The Harlem of Paris” by black American musicians—Harlan jumps at the opportunity, convincing Lizard to join him.


But after the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, Harlan and Lizard are thrown into Buchenwald—the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany—irreparably changing the course of Harlan’s life. Based on exhaustive research and told in McFadden’s mesmeric prose, The Book of Harlan skillfully blends the stories of McFadden’s familial ancestors with those of real and imagined characters.



About the Author


BERNICE L. McFADDEN is the author of ten critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), Glorious, and The Book of Harlan (winner of a 2017 American Book Award and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Fiction). She is a four-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of four awards from the BCALA. Praise Song for the Butterflies is her latest novel.

Praise For…


McFadden packs a powerful punch with tight prose and short chapters that bear witness to key events in early twentieth-century history: both World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Great Migration. Partly set in the Jim Crow South, the novel succeeds in showing the prevalence of racism all across the country—whether implemented through institutionalized mechanisms or otherwise. Playing with themes of divine justice and the suffering of the righteous, McFadden presents a remarkably crisp portrait of one average man’s extraordinary bravery in the face of pure evil.
— Booklist, Starred Review

The Book of Harlan is an incredible read. Bernice McFadden . . . has created an amazing novel that speaks to lesser known aspects of the African-American experience and illuminates the human heart and spirit. Her spare prose is rich in details that convey deep emotions and draw the reader in. This fictional narrative of Harlan Elliot’s life is firmly grounded amidst real people and places—prime historical fiction, and the best book I have read this year.

— Historical Novels Review, Editors’ Choice

Through this character portrait of Harlan, McFadden has constructed a vivid, compelling narrative that makes historical fiction an accessible, literary window into the African-American past and some of the contemporary dilemmas of the present.
— Publishers Weekly

McFadden’s impressive achievement offers us a window into the often very difficult lives of African Americans from the Jim Crow era up to the present—and, unexpectedly, in wartime Germany. Highly recommended for showing us that however badly black citizens have historically been treated, black lives matter.
— Library Journal (XPress Reviews)

Another one of Bernice L. McFadden’s masterpieces . . . McFadden took me on a melodious literary journey through time and place — complex, real, beautifully raw, and necessary . . . McFadden’s prose lingers, giving me courage to stay committed to telling authentic stories that, while revealing of unspeakable truths, serve to unite us all.
— The Millions, Nicole Dennis-Benn’s A Year in Reading


Product Details
ISBN: 9781617754463
ISBN-10: 1617754463
Publisher: Akashic Books, Ltd.
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016
Pages: 352
Language: English