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Historical

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  1. 10.4 hrs • 9/13/2016 • Unabridged

    A powerful new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country.In the years following the Civil War, Mariah Reddick, former slave to Carrie McGavock--the "Widow of the South"--has quietly built a new life for herself as a midwife to the women of Franklin, Tennessee. But when her ambitious, politically-minded grown son, Theopolis, is murdered, Mariah--no stranger to loss--finds her world once more breaking apart. How could this happen? Who wanted him dead?Mariah's journey to uncover the truth leads her to unexpected people--including Robert Cannon, a recent arrival to town, fleeing a difficult past of his own--and forces her to confront the truths of her own past. Brimming with the vivid prose and historical research that has won "master storyteller" (San Francisco Chronicle) Robert Hicks an avid following and critical acclaim, THE ORPHAN MOTHER is an epic account of one remarkable woman's quest for justice.

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    The Orphan Mother

    10.4 hrs • 9/13/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 9.3 hrs • 9/6/2016 • Unabridged

    “An eye-opening look at the little-explored area of a black frontier woman in the American West.” —Chicago Sun-Times Praised by Alice Walker and many other bestselling writers, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is an award-winning debut novel with incredible heart about life on the prairie as it’s rarely been seen. Reminiscent of The Color Purple, as well as the frontier novels of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Willa Cather, it opens a window on the little-known history of African American homesteaders and gives voice to an extraordinary heroine who embodies the spirit that built America.

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  3. 4.0 hrs • 8/3/2016 • Unabridged

    American Book Award winner Nancy Rawles pens a moving story about Huck Finn’s slave friend Jim, told through the eyes of the wife Jim was forced to leave behind. Sadie shares her story of loss with her granddaughter as they weave Sadie’s most treasured items—her mother’s knife, a piece of a bowl from Africa, a piece of Jim’s hat found when he was thought to be dead-into a quilt.

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    My Jim

    4.0 hrs • 8/3/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 10.7 hrs • 8/2/2016 • Unabridged

    From prize-winning, bestselling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

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    The Underground Railroad

    10.7 hrs • 8/2/16 • Unabridged
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  5. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    13.2 hrs • 6/7/2016 • Unabridged

    A riveting, kaleidoscopic debut novel and the beginning of a major career: a novel about race, history, ancestry, love, and time that traces the descendants of two sisters torn apart in eighteenth-century Africa across three hundred years in Ghana and America. Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different tribal villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to twentieth-century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi’s novel moves through histories and geographies and captures—with outstanding economy and force—the troubled spirit of our own nation. She has written a modern masterpiece.

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    Homegoing

    13.2 hrs • 6/7/16 • Unabridged
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  6. 12.5 hrs • 4/12/2016 • Unabridged

    Diane McKinney-Whetstone’s nationally bestselling novel Tumbling immersed us into Philadelphia’s black community during the Civil Rights era, and she returns to the city in this new historical novel about a cast of nineteenth-century characters whose colorful lives intersect at the legendary Lazaretto—America’s first quarantine hospital. Isolated on an island where two rivers meet, the Lazaretto quarantine hospital is the first stop for immigrants who wish to begin new lives in Philadelphia. The Lazaretto’s black live-in staff forge a strong social community, and when one of them receives permission to get married on the island the mood is one of celebration, particularly since the white staff—save the opium-addicted doctor—are given leave for the weekend. On the eve of the ceremony, a gunshot rings out across the river. A white man has fired at a boat carrying the couple’s friends and family to the island, and the captain is injured. His life lies in the hands of Sylvia, the Lazaretto’s head nurse, who is shocked to realize she knows the patient. Intertwined with the drama unfolding at the Lazaretto are the fates of orphan brothers. When one brother commits a crime to protect the other, he imperils both of their lives—and the consequences ultimately deliver both of them to the Lazaretto. In this masterful work of historical fiction, Diane McKinney-Whetstone seamlessly transports us to Philadelphia in the aftermath of the Civil War and Lincoln’s assassination, beautifully evoking powerful stories of love, friendship, and humanity amid the vibrant black community that flourished amid the troubled times.

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    Lazaretto by Diane McKinney-Whetstone

    Lazaretto

    12.5 hrs • 4/12/16 • Unabridged
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  7. 9.7 hrs • 2/20/2016 • Unabridged

    In 1971, nineteen citizens of Excelsior, a farming community in South Africa’s rural Free States, were charged with breaking apartheid’s Immorality Act, which forbade sexual relations between blacks and whites on the pretext of avoiding miscegenation. The women were jailed as they awaited trial and their white counterparts were released on bail. In the end, the state withdrew the charges, but the accused women’s lives, already complicated, became harder than ever. Mda tells the story of a family at the heart of the scandal, revealing a country in which apartheid, even as it sought to keep the races apart, concealed interracial liaisons of every kind. Niki, the fallen Madonna, transgresses boundaries for the sake of love; her choices have profound repercussions in the lives of her black son, Viliki, and her mixed-race daughter, Popi, who come of age in the years after the end of apartheid, when freedom allows them—indeed compels them—to figure out their racial identities for themselves. As the story advances to the present, the mixed society of Excelsior comes to suggest South Africa today, a society far more complex—and more dramatic—than conventional notions of black and white will allow.

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    The Madonna of Excelsior

    9.7 hrs • 2/20/16 • Unabridged
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  8. 18.8 hrs • 2/2/2016 • Unabridged

    A sweeping, eerily resonant epic of race and violence in the Jim Crow South: a lyrical and emotionally devastating masterpiece from Charlie Smith, whom the New York Public Library has said “may be America’s most bewitching stylist alive” Delvin Walker is just a boy when his mother flees their home in the Red Row section of Chattanooga, accused of killing a white man. Taken in by Cornelius Oliver, proprietor of the town’s leading Negro funeral home, he discovers the art of caring for the aggrieved, the promise of transcendence in the written word, and a rare peace in a hostile world. Yet tragedy visits them near-daily, and after a series of devastating events—a lynching, a church burning—Delvin fears being accused of murdering a local white boy and leaves town. Haunted by his mother’s disappearance, Delvin rides the rails, meets fellow travelers, falls in love, and sees an America sliding into the Great Depression. But before his hopes for life and love can be realized, he and a group of other young men are falsely charged with the rape of two white women, and they’re shackled to a system of enslavement masquerading as justice. As he is pushed deeper into the darkness of imprisonment, his resolve to escape burns only more brightly, until in a last spasm of flight, in a white heat of terror, he is called to choose his fate. In language both intimate and lyrical, novelist and poet Charlie Smith conjures a fresh and complex portrait of the South of the 1920s and 30s in all its brutal humanity—and the astonishing endurance of one battered young man, his consciousness “an accumulation of breached and disordered living … hopes packed hard into sprung joints,” who lives past and through it all.

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    Ginny Gall by Charlie Smith

    Ginny Gall

    18.8 hrs • 2/2/16 • Unabridged
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  9. 7.6 hrs • 10/6/2015 • Unabridged

    Set against the tumultuous background of apartheid South Africa, a powerful and moving debut about family, sacrifice, and discovering what it means to belong. Celia Mphephu knows her place in the world. A black servant working in the white suburbs of 1960s Johannesburg, she’s all too aware of her limitations. Nonetheless, she has found herself a comfortable corner: she has a job, can support her faraway family, and is raising her youngest child, Miriam. But as racial tensions explode, Celia’s world shifts. Her employers decide to flee the political turmoil and move to England—and they ask to adopt Miriam and take her with them. Devastated at the prospect of losing her only daughter, yet unable to deny her child a safer and more promising future, Celia agrees, forever defining both their futures. As Celia fights against the shattering violence of her time, Miriam battles the quiet racism of England, struggling to find her place in a land to which she doesn’t belong—until the call of her heritage inexorably draws her back to Africa to discover the truth behind her mother’s choices and uncover a heartbreaking secret from long ago.

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    Another Woman’s Daughter

    7.6 hrs • 10/6/15 • Unabridged
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  10. 6.3 hrs • 9/15/2015 • Unabridged

    The year is 1855. Blackface minstrelsy is the most popular form of entertainment in a nation about to be torn apart by the battle over slavery. Henry Sims, a fugitive slave and a brilliant musician, has escaped to Philadelphia. He is befriended by a leader of a popular minstrel troupe struggling to compete with similar ensembles. Henry’s skill could help the struggling troupe. Black and white performers are not allowed to appear together onstage. Together, the two concoct a masquerade to protect Henry’s identity. Even as their plan begins to reverse the troupe’s decline, a brutal slave hunter named Tull Burton has been employed to track down the runaway and retrieve him, by any means necessary.

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    A Free State

    6.3 hrs • 9/15/15 • Unabridged
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  11. 14.7 hrs • 8/20/2015 • Unabridged

    A major debut from an award-winning writer—an epic family saga set against the magic and the rhythms of the Virgin Islands. In the early 1900s an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea, just as the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule. Orphaned by the sunk vessel are two sisters and their half-brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them. Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Wholly unique, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evokes an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prize-winning young writer.

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    Land of Love and Drowning

    14.7 hrs • 8/20/15 • Unabridged
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  12. 5.6 hrs • 7/21/2015 • Unabridged

    It’s the 1960s. A hot August night lies heavy over the Carolinas. The corpse—legs sprawled, stomach down on the concrete pavement, arms above the head—brings the patrol car to a halt. The local police pick up a black stranger named Virgil Tibbs, only to discover that their most likely suspect is a homicide detective from California—and the racially tense community’s single hope in solving a brutal murder that turns up no witnesses, no motives, and no clues. Wells’ new police chief recruits Tibbs to help with the investigation. But Tibbs’s presence in town rubs some of the locals the wrong way, and it won’t be long before the martial arts–trained detective has to fight not just for justice but also for his own safety. “They call me Mr. Tibbs” was the line immortalized by Sidney Poitier in the 1967 Oscar-winning movie adaptation of In the Heat of the Night, which won five Academy Awards and sixteen other film honors.

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    In the Heat of the Night

    Foreword by John Ridley
    Read by Dion Graham
    5.6 hrs • 7/21/15 • Unabridged
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  13. 9.2 hrs • 5/26/2015 • Unabridged

    The New York Times bestselling author of Wench returns to the Civil War era to explore the next chapter of history—the end of slavery. In this powerful story of love and healing, three people struggle to overcome the pain of the past and define their own future. The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life. Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and help those in need, she must return to Tennessee and face the women healers who rejected her as a child. Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she cannot fully engage her gift. Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in a northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him. In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest. Beautiful in its historical atmosphere and emotional depth, Balm is a stirring novel of love, loss, hope, and reconciliation set during one of the most critical periods in American history.

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    Balm

    9.2 hrs • 5/26/15 • Unabridged
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  14. 11.2 hrs • 5/26/2015 • Unabridged

    Against a 1970s backdrop of rapid social and political change, Only the Strong portrays the challenges and rewards of love in a quintessential American community where heartbreak and violence are seldom far away. Moved by the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., Lorenzo “Guts” Tolliver decides to abandon his career as a professional leg-breaker and pursue a life of quiet moments and generous helpings of banana pudding in the company of his new, sensuous lover. His erstwhile boss, local kingpin Ananias Goode, is also thinking about slowing down—but his tempestuous affair with Dr. Artinces Noel, a prominent pediatrician, complicates his retirement plans. Meanwhile, Charlotte Divine, the doctor’s headstrong protégée, struggles with trials of her own. With prose that’s sharp, humorous, and poetic, Jabari Asim skillfully renders a compelling portrait of urban life in the wake of the last major civil rights bill. Massive change is afoot in America, and these characters have front-row seats.

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    Only the Strong

    11.2 hrs • 5/26/15 • Unabridged
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  15. 2.0 hrs • 2/15/2015 • Audio Theater

    Based on John Ball’s novel that inspired the Oscar-winning film and the Emmy-winning television series, this drama pits a visiting black detective from California against a small Alabama town simmering with anger over desegregation. A fitting reflection of America in the 1960s, this off-Broadway hit is provocative, timely, and uncomfortably relevant. This is an L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, featuring Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Hammond, Kalen Harriman, Travis Johns, James Morrison, Darren Richardson, and Tom Virtue. This performance was directed by Brian Kite and recorded before a live audience by L.A. Theatre Works.

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    John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night

    Adaptation written by Matt Pelfrey
    Performed by a full cast
    2.0 hrs • 2/15/15 • Audio Theater
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  16. 7.4 hrs • 1/6/2015 • Unabridged

    A daring and brilliant new novel that explores race and class in in 1950s America The war is over, the soldiers are returning, and Nat King Cole is back in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, for a rare performance. His childhood friend, Nat Weary, plans to propose to his sweetheart, and the singer will honor their moment with a special song. But while the world has changed, segregated Jim Crow Montgomery remains the same. When a white man attacks Cole with a pipe, Weary leaps from the audience to defend him—an act that will lead to a ten-year prison sentence. But the singer will not forget his friend and the sacrifice he made. Six months before Weary is released, he receives a remarkable offer: he will be Nat King Cole’s driver and bodyguard. It is the promise of a new life removed from the terror, violence, and degradation of Jim Crow Alabama. Weary discovers that, while Los Angeles is far different from the deep South, it is a place of discrimination, mistrust, and intolerance where a black man—even one as talented and popular as Nat King Cole—is not wholly welcome. An indelible portrait of prejudice and promise, friendship and loyalty, Driving the King is a daring look at race and class in pre–civil rights America, played out in the lives of two remarkable men.

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    Driving the King

    7.4 hrs • 1/6/15 • Unabridged
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