Author: Roberts Jones, Jr.

Narrator: Karen Chilton

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Description

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.

Book Review

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. is an impactful story about the forbidden love between two enslaved men. Isaiah and Samuel love each other, but their love is being questioned and called sinful. Isaiah and Samule have a special love that their friends help them hide to keep them safe. Then, the slave owner finds out about their relationship and has to decide what he is going to do. The Prophets is a moving story. I was invested in Isaiah and Samuel’s life and relationship. There are side stories throughout the book. The story is told from the slave and slave owner’s perspectives. There are many tense and difficult moments in The Prophets that are important while not always easy to read. The Prophets is filled with good characters fighting for what they believe in. The Prophets emphasizes the power of love and strength to never give up.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Karen Chilton and thought she did a great job. There were some parts that were uncomfortable to hear out loud but overall the audiobook is worth listening to.

Thank you, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Penguin Random House Audio for The Prophets.

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 TimesEssenceOkayAfricaThe 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.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Prophets

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