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Scup Offsite: Jamila Minnicks at the Central Library
February 6 @ 6:30 pm
Winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, an enchanting and thought-provoking debut about a Black woman doing whatever it takes to protect all she loves on Alabama soil.
It’s 1957, and after leaving the only home she has ever known, Alice Young steps off the bus into all-Black New Jessup, where residents have largely rejected integration as the means for Black social advancement. Instead, they seek to maintain, and fortify, the community they cherish on their “side of the woods.” In this place, Alice falls in love with Raymond Campbell, whose clandestine organizing activities challenge New Jessup’s longstanding status quo and could lead to the young couple’s expulsion—or worse—from the home they both hold dear. As they marry and raise children together, Alice must find a way to balance her undying support for his underground work with her desire to protect New Jessup from the rising pressure of upheaval from inside, and outside, their side of town.
Based on the history of the many Black towns and settlements established across the country, Jamila Minnicks’s heartfelt and riveting debut is both a celebration of Black joy and a timely examination of the opposing viewpoints that attended desegregation in America.
“I was awestruck by its beauty, rapt by its originality, and astounded by its depth. But what astonished me most was learning that this is a debut. The craftwork is extraordinary. Was this book dreamed into existence? Did the Ancestors themselves place this story in the writer’s mind? From page one, I knew this work would transform me. It expanded the way I imagine what is possible in the art form. More than interesting, it is integral. More than important, it is inspiring. Read this book. Cherish it. Protect it. You must. Right out of the gate, Jamila Minnicks’s Moonrise Over New Jessup is a masterpiece.”
―Robert Jones, Jr., author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Prophets
“My favorite novels light up my brain with things I hadn’t considered before – and this one does exactly that. The deep complexity of the American Civil Rights movement; the various, sometimes opposing approaches of its leaders to desegregation; the gains and inevitable casualties that social progress can claim. With compelling characters and a heart-pounding plot, Jamila Minnicks pulled me into pages of history I’d never turned before.”
―Barbara Kingsolver, author of Demon Copperhead
Jamila Minnicks is the author of Moonrise Over New Jessup, the 2021 winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. Her work is also published in CRAFT Literary Magazine, The Write Launch, and The Silent World in Her Vase. Her piece, Politics of Distraction, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the Howard University School of Law, and Georgetown University. She lives in Washington, DC.