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The Revisioners: A Novel

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9781640092587: The Revisioners: A Novel
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Following her National Book Award-nominated debut novel, A Kind of Freedom, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton returns with this equally elegant and historically inspired story of survivors and healers, of black women and their black sons, set in the American South

In 1924, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Now her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, and an uneasy friendship grows between them. But Charlotte has also sought solace in the Ku Klux Klan, a relationship that jeopardizes Josephine's family.

Nearly one hundred years later, Josephine's descendant, Ava, is a single mother who has just lost her job. She moves in with her white grandmother, Martha, a wealthy but lonely woman who pays Ava to be her companion. But Martha's behavior soon becomes erratic, then threatening, and Ava must escape before her story and Josephine's converge.

The Revisioners explores the depths of women's relationships--powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between mothers and their children, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.

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Praise for The Revisioners

One of O, The Oprah Magazine's Buzziest Books Coming Out This Year
Electric Literature, 1 of 48 Books by Women and Nonbinary Authors of Color to Read in 2019
The Millions, Most Anticipated

Parade, One of the Most Anticipated Books of Fall
BuzzFeed, A Buzzy Book Coming Out This Fall
Publishers Weekly, One of the Big Indie Books of the Season
Good Housekeeping, 1 of the 50 Best Books of the Year to Add to Your Reading List

"Sexton (A Kind of Freedom) returns with this excellent story of a New Orleans family's ascent from slavery to freedom, paying poetic tribute to their fearlessness and a 'mind magic' that fixes the present, sees into the future, and calls out from the past. In alternating chapters, two women tell their haunting, frightening, and ultimately uplifting stories . . . A chilling plot twist reveals the insidious racial divide that stretches through the generations, but it's the larger message that's so timely . . . This novel is both powerful and full of hope." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This second novel from Sexton confirms the storytelling gifts she displayed in her lushly readable debut, A Kind of Freedom . . . At the intriguing crossroads of the seen and the unseen lies a weave among five generations of women." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Few capture the literary world's attention with their debut like this author did; her first novel, A Kind of Freedom, was nominated for the National Book Award and earned several other top accolades. Her anticipated follow-up offers a bracing window into Southern life and tensions, alternating between two women's stories--set nearly 100 years apart." --David Canfield, Entertainment Weekly, 1 of the 40 Biggest Titles of the Season

"Sexton's follow-up to her National Book Award-nominated debut, A Kind of Freedom, tackles generational legacies, the echoes of history, and strength of bonds between women." --Emily Temple, Literary Hub, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year

"Margaret Wilkerson Sexton is able to create this family dynamic in such a short space. But she also tackles a lot of difficult topics. And since she is an African American woman writer, she often tackles topics around race and families and those dynamics and the way that she's able to bring that to the table. Like in A Kind of Freedom, she featured New Orleans. And then over the course of generations, she eventually got to a post-Katrina New Orleans. And she just wove together this beautiful story about family and characters. She is one I want to watch." --Kendra Winchester, Literary Hub, Reading Women's Most Anticipated Books of the Year

"[A] powerful, deeply personal second novel . . . It's rare for dual narratives to be equally compelling, and Sexton achieves this while illustrating the impact of slavery long after its formal end. Nurturing, motherhood, and pregnancy rise up as important themes. Readers will engage fully in this compelling story of African American women who have power in a culture that attempts to dismantle it." --Booklist

"The book is so moving in that it is a testament to the kind of magic we leave behind for others--whether it's good magic in the form of hope, or the insidious kind of magic that leaves the world stagnant, hateful, and dangerous. While a moving and powerful read, it's also one that might require a walk around the block to properly digest as soon as you've finished." --Katherine Tamola, Shondaland, 1 of 9 Reads You Won't Be Able to Put Down

"This dazzling, haunting novel is an intergenerational epic, an often devastating, but beautiful accounting of family bonds, the love of mothers and sons, and the enduring strength of Black women and their legacies . . . Wilkerson Sexton deftly explores the ways in which the past isn't prologue, but is actually what exists between the lines of our presently lived stories." --Kristin Iversen, NYLON, 1 of the 34 Books You'll Want to Read This Fall

"The Revisioners is a passionate exploration of liberty, heritage, sisterhood and motherhood in New Orleans . . . Sexton's characters' realistic interior thoughts drive the novel, revealing hidden emotions of apprehension and nostalgia . . . The Revisioners is an uplifting novel of black women and their tenacity." --Edith Kanyagia, BookPage

"I was mesmerized by The Revisioners, a time-bending epic about family, desire, strength, and terror, as well as the possibly supernatural power of the stories we tell ourselves. Was mesmerized? Am mesmerized, will remain mesmerized. Sexton's novel is extraordinary, and its effects will go on and on." --R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

"Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's writing is graceful and stylish, her truths relevant and necessary--it's just so exhilarating to read her. I was mesmerized by The Revisioners, an impeccable novel of magic, loss, and family, all anchored by generations of powerful women." --Jami Attenberg, author of All Grown Up

"I read this wonderful novel nearly in a single sitting, carried along by its exemplary pacing and structure, its rich cast of characters, and its deft explorations of trauma, cruelty, survival, and love. Written in a haunted present and a past that's not past, The Revisioners honors the living and the lost in a painful, tender testament to the power of fiction." --Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State

"This elegant and powerful novel sweeps you up from the very first page, spanning the last gasps of slavery to the present day. The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton plunges you deep within the complexity of a Louisiana family as the echoes of history repeat over generations and provides a powerful testament to the ingenuity and resilience of women protecting themselves and those they love in an unyielding world." --Lalita Tademy, New York Times bestselling author of Cane River, Red River, and Citizens Creek

"Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's The Revisioners is a sweeping, deeply felt meditation on sacrifice and survival. Nuanced and elegantly told, The Revisioners reminds us that history is alive and that we should never lose hope." --Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar

"Margaret Wilkerson Sexton has done it again with The Revisioners, where ties beyond family bind us to the past. A novel as beautiful as it is hauntingly dazzling, it's filmic in scope and sensory detail." --Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People

"In paying homage to the triumph of black women who survived and even thrived in a society built to deny them dignity, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton has written an astonishing novel. The Revisioners is nothing less than a rare celebration of the power of women and mothers to build a better future. Sexton's style is fluid and seamless, and readers will find themselves hoping to meet Ava and Josephine in real life." --Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow

Praise for A Kind of Freedom

Long-listed for the National Book Award in Fiction Winner of the First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Long-listed for the NCIBA Book Award for Fiction A New York Times Notable Book A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice Named a Best Book of the Year by San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Culture, Southern Living, Chicago Public Library, PureWow, and East Bay Express

"This emotionally wrenching, character-rich debut spans three generations in a city deeply impacted by segregation, economic inequality, and racial tensions . . . Being able to capture 70 years of New Orleans history and the emotional changes in one family in such a short book is a testament to Sexton's powers of descriptive restraint. In this fine debut, each generation comes with new possibilities and deferred dreams blossoming with the hope that this time, finally, those dreams may come to fruition." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Sexton subtly lays bare the ever-present societal forces at work to undermine black success and family." --HuffPost

"Sad, proud, provocative and quietly educational, with dialogue that credibly spans 70 years of black New Orleans vernacular, A Kind of Freedom begs for a screen adaptation. You wait and see." --Newsday

"This luminous and assured first novel shines an unflinching, compassionate light on three generations of a black family in New Orleans, emphasizing endurance more than damage." --The New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

"Sexton's first novel is set in New Orleans from the mid-1940s to the city's ruthless real estate makeover years after Hurricane Katrina. Delivered by three accomplished narrators, the story moves through three generations of a black family, starting with the daughter of a pioneering doctor and his Creole wife, who have set themselves against her marrying the hard-working son of a janitor. This moving debut is ingeniously told in its passage back and forth through lives and changing times." --The Washington Post

"As tragic as it is necessary. Each character is compelling and nuanced, making the reader all the more sorry to leave them at book's end." --Shondaland

"This wonderful debut by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton explores three generations in the life of an African American family living in New Orleans, beginning with World War II-era Evelyn and continuing through history by unfolding the lives of Evelyn's daughter, Jackie, and Jackie's son, T.C., as well as the continuity of struggles that haunt them all." --Southern Living, 1 of the Best Books of 2017

"[A] powerful first novel, which traces the complex downward spiral of a black family over three generations . . . Despite the struggles, A Kind of Freedom glimmers with hope." --BBC Culture

"Sexton's debut novel is a poignant, deeply emotional and timely exploration of systemic racism in America. Told through the interconnected narratives of three generations of a New Orleans family, the work captures more than seven decades of history in one book without feeling overstuffed. Quite the opposite, actually: You'll be left wanting to know more about these incredible characters' circumstances, motivations and dreams, both realized and unfulfilled." --PureWow

"Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's debut, A Kind of Freedom, a family story set in New Orleans, is really good, too." --Tayari Jones, "A Year in Reading," The Millions

"[A] compelling debut novel . . . Race, class, unemployment, drug wars and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina all factor into Sexton's multigenerational tale, illustrating the persistent racial disparities in our so-called 'post-racial' America." --The Mercury News

"It's hard to believe that A Kind of Freedom is Sexton's first novel . . . Given the recent happenings in Charlottesville, Virginia, it's hard to imagine a more relevant release date for this lovely, important book. This is a book for our time." --New York Journal of Books

"This generational arc is largely related to systemic racism, but to simplify this novel as an exploration of such minimizes Wilkerson's incredible achievement. Rather, A Kind of Freedom is a portrait of a family and a richly layered exploration of their sufferings . . . What is most remarkable about the tapestry of these stories is the way each person's section is written a little differently from the last, like varying fabrics. Evelyn's chapters and T.C.'s are written so distinctly that at times it feels like a completely different person wrote them. Sexton's ability to change the style of writing to fit the time period is one of the most impressive aspects of the novel. Equally notable is how vividly each character is portrayed. Not only do each of the characters feel relatable, but they're so fully realized that they stay with you long after finishing the story. That this multigenerational novel is a mere 228 pages and still manages to create such lifelike characters is an impressive feat . . . This remarkable debut marks Margaret Wilkerson Sexton as a writer worth watching." --Chicago Review of Books

"Sharp-eyed, generous, and specific in its portrayal of life in the Big Easy, A Kind of Freedom is a remarkably assured debut." --East Bay Express, 2017's Best Fiction

"Sexton's handling of switchbacks between chapters featuring the different generations and characters is deft, swift and seamless, indicative of a more seasoned novelist." --East Bay Times

"Three New Orleans generations make up Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's heart-wrenching novel, A Kind of Freedom, each suffering through desires, ambitions and brutal limitations . . . Sexton, who grew up in New Orleans but now lives in the Bay Area of California, tears at your heart with this multi-generational tale in which readers hope for the best for this family but know society's limitations and empty promises will drag them down. And yet, hope remains. Or maybe the possibility of hope." --Monroe News Star

"Luminous and heartbreaking . . . A Kind of Freedom is a story for our times, and is deserving of a wide readership." --Signature Reads

"Sexton spotlights her generations at moments of potential crisis, then gives each family member room to do the best he or she can. Theirs is unquestionably a story of suffering--and, just as unquestionably, a story of endurance." --Read It Forward

"Through each characters' passion, resilience, and hopes, A Kind of Freedom reveals how the pursuit of a dream can lead to an individual's demise or redemption and how sometimes it can simultaneously lead to both." --Well-Read Black Girl

"Sexton's wonderful debut traces a family through three generations in New Orleans--from a star-crossed romance in the 1940s to the crack epidemic of the 1980s to the unfathomable changes wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Injustice, hope, ambition, and the history and truth of New Orleans are the underlying subjects of this novel, explored through the stories of these well-drawn characters." --Literary Hub

"[A] stunning debut novel . . . The book's greatest strength lies in its characters. Evelyn, Jackie, T.C., and their family and friends are remarkably well developed, creating in the reader a wrenching empathy to their plights . . . A whole-hearted book that couldn't be timelier, A Kind of Freedom challenges, illuminates, and inspires." --The Riveter Magazine

"Future literary classic." --The Conversation

"Sexton's debut novel shows us that hard work does not guarantee success and that progress doesn't always move in a straight line." --Kirkus Reviews

"Evelyn, Jackie, and T. C. are complex and authentic generations of a New Orleans family. The novel's t...

About the Author:

MARGARET WILKERSON SEXTON, born and raised in New Orleans, studied creative writing at Dartmouth College and law at UC Berkeley. Her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom, was long-listed for the National Book Award and the Northern California Book Award, won the Crook's Corner Book Prize, and was the recipient of the First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. Find out more at margaretwilkersonsexton.com.

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