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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

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Read the author's account of how she came to write her remarkable debut The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, and sample the opening chapter.

"The opening pages of Ayana's debut took my breath away. I can't remember when I read anything that moved me quite this way, besides the work of Toni Morrison". (Oprah Winfrey). Fifteen years old and blazing with the hope of a better life, Hattie Shepherd fled the horror of the American South on a dawn train bound for Philadelphia. Hattie's is a tale of strength, of resilience and heartbreak that spans six decades. Her American dream is shattered time and again: a husband who lies and cheats and nine children raised in a cramped little house that was only ever supposed to be temporary. She keeps the children alive with sheer will and not an ounce of the affection they crave. She knows they don't think her a kind woman - but how could they understand that all the love she had was used up in feeding them and clothing them. How do you prepare your children for a world you know is cruel? The lives of this unforgettable family form a searing portrait of twentieth century America. From the revivalist tents of Alabama to Vietnam, to the black middle-class enclave in the heart of the city, to a filthy bar in the ghetto, "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" is an extraordinary, distinctive novel about the guilt, sacrifice, responsibility and heartbreak that are an intrinsic part of ferocious love.

Fiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: Cornerstone Publication Date: 01/01/2013 ISBN-13: 9780091944186  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Ayana Mathis lives in New York. This is her first novel.

See our Author Page for Ayana Mathis

More books by Ayana Mathis

Customer Reviews

Such an enjoyable read & reminders me of a modern 'Colour Purple'. Rich characters & very thought provoking - worth a read & every penny!

- 13/04/2013
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Staff Choice

I have a very short attention span for anything that isn't crime fiction but this may have changed my reading habits. Hattie is the matriarch of a large family. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one character, beginning with Hattie and then following the lives of her childrenand a grandchild from the 1920s to the present day. It is not a novel in the traditional sense, more like a collection of short stories where you catch a small glimpse of each life. It is a beautiful, melancholy and very self assured debut. My only criticism would be that it leaves you wishing you knew more about each character as the time spent with each is very short and they are all equally intriguing. - Rebecca

Westfield White City Bookstore - 14/01/2013


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