Arts & Leisure

Book review: My Monticello — by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

(Henry Holt & Company)

In the titular novella that makes up the majority of this collection of short stories and a novella, a group of Black people — children, the elderly, innocent families — are forced from their homes in a wave of violence and destruction. They flee, with just the clothes on their backs in most cases, in a commandeered public transport vehicle and find unlikely refuge on the grounds, and in the buildings, of Monticello, the plantation of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, where members of these same families were once enslaved. Set in the chillingly-imaginable future, these characters, with whom you feel an instant connection, are fighting for survival, and much more. In “Control Negro,” a story previously published in Guernica, a non-profit magazine dedicated to global art and politics, the protagonist plans and executes a revealing experiment about, in one aspect, white privilege and how even the most well-placed Black person of the highest caliber still faces insurmountable obstacles to success. In all her writing, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson is crisp and clear in her word and prose selections, and the results are impressive. This is a devastating and necessary read, and because it is so well-crafted, it is also an absolute pleasure to read.

 Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.


Electrifying Fiction from Black Authors

Hell Of A Book, by Jason Mott

Luster, by Raven Leilani

Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Assembly, by Natasha Brown

Seven Days in June, by Tia Williams

The Prophets, by Robert Jones Jr.

The Deep, by Rivers Solomon

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