Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Edward P. Jones and "All Aunt Hagar's Children"

I'm a true list girl. I just love list. I won't go to the grocery store without a list. On my desk at work, there is always a list of what needs to be done that day. I even make lists of the chores that need to be done around my house. Before I leave for a trip, I write down everything that I need to take from underwear to shoes, and I almost never forget anything, except for when I went to Orlando and realized I had left my sports bra, but I went and bought one at Walmart; that was a big mistake, but at least I got to run.

For long road trips, I make lists of what I will need for the car. This list normally includes snacks, water, and of course, books on CD. Yes, I still have a CD player in my car.

For my road trip to Vermont, I went to the library to select a novel, and I stumbled upon All Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones.

For those of you who do not know Edward P. Jones, he is best known for The Known World which is set in a fictional Virginia county and has a protagonist who is a mixed-race black planter and slaveholder, in other words, Blacks who owned Blacks. I'm sure it took a lot of courage to write about this topic, but he did it, and it won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

I found The Known World to be quite boring. I could not get into the storyline at all, but one day I will give this book another try especially since it won two awards.

So, why would I try All Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones when I did not like The Known World? And the reason is the title. Okay, this is real shallow of me, but I must be honest.

In Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, she has a character named Hagar. Toni's Hagar is quite wonderful; she is a women who lived the way she wanted to, even if living the way she wanted to made her despised by others, even her brother. I believe that Toni named her after Hagar from the bible who may represent women who are excluded or despised by the people around them much like Toni Morrison's Hagar. So, you know I had to try a book with the name Hagar in it. I love to read about the underdog.

To my surprise, this book was a collection of short stories about African Americans in DC in the 20s who may have been shunned much like Hagar in the Bible and Hagar from Song of Solomon. I know that this is a stretch, but stretching is what you do when you analyze literature.

All Aunt Hagar's Children is very captivating and the characters are memorable. If you know DC, he refers to many streets and places that really helps the listener to connect to the stories. He mentions the historic U, H, and M streets, and he also mentions Walter Reed Hospital, Saint Elizabeth Hospital and many other known places in DC.

For a long road trip and even for reading in the comfort of your home, this book is excellent and captivating. It kept me awake for ten straight hours with very few breaks.

Edward P. Jones, you make your people proud with this one.

Edward P. Jones

1 comment:

Tracy Ricks said...

Very interesting! I might have to check this one out! Thanks for sharing!

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