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Palmares

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First discovered and edited by Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century. Now, for the first time in over 20 years, Jones is ready to publish again. Palmares is the first of five new works by Gayl Jones to be published in the next two years, rewarding longtime fans and bringing her talent to a new generation of re First discovered and edited by Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century. Now, for the first time in over 20 years, Jones is ready to publish again. Palmares is the first of five new works by Gayl Jones to be published in the next two years, rewarding longtime fans and bringing her talent to a new generation of readers. Intricate and compelling, Palmares recounts the journey of Almeyda, a Black slave girl who comes of age on Portuguese plantations and escapes to a fugitive slave settlement called Palmares. Following its destruction, Almeyda embarks on a journey across colonial Brazil to find her husband, lost in battle. Her story brings to life a world impacted by greed, conquest, and colonial desire. She encounters a mad lexicographer, desperate to avoid military service; a village that praises a god living in a nearby cave; and a medicine woman who offers great magic, at a greater price. Combining the author’s mastery of language and voice with her unique brand of mythology and magical realism, Jones reimagines the historical novel. The result is a sweeping saga spanning a quarter century, with vibrant settings and unforgettable characters, steeped in the rich oral tradition of its world. Of Gayl Jones, the New Yorker noted, “[Her] great achievement is to reckon with both history and interiority, and to collapse the boundary between them.” Like nothing else before it, Palmares embodies this gift.


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First discovered and edited by Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century. Now, for the first time in over 20 years, Jones is ready to publish again. Palmares is the first of five new works by Gayl Jones to be published in the next two years, rewarding longtime fans and bringing her talent to a new generation of re First discovered and edited by Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century. Now, for the first time in over 20 years, Jones is ready to publish again. Palmares is the first of five new works by Gayl Jones to be published in the next two years, rewarding longtime fans and bringing her talent to a new generation of readers. Intricate and compelling, Palmares recounts the journey of Almeyda, a Black slave girl who comes of age on Portuguese plantations and escapes to a fugitive slave settlement called Palmares. Following its destruction, Almeyda embarks on a journey across colonial Brazil to find her husband, lost in battle. Her story brings to life a world impacted by greed, conquest, and colonial desire. She encounters a mad lexicographer, desperate to avoid military service; a village that praises a god living in a nearby cave; and a medicine woman who offers great magic, at a greater price. Combining the author’s mastery of language and voice with her unique brand of mythology and magical realism, Jones reimagines the historical novel. The result is a sweeping saga spanning a quarter century, with vibrant settings and unforgettable characters, steeped in the rich oral tradition of its world. Of Gayl Jones, the New Yorker noted, “[Her] great achievement is to reckon with both history and interiority, and to collapse the boundary between them.” Like nothing else before it, Palmares embodies this gift.

30 review for Palmares

  1. 4 out of 5

    Luisa Santos

    edit 30.9.2021: you can see my full review in youtu.be/r2p25NxpkMg I might just be very stupid, but while I can forgive the basic misunderstandings of Brazilian slavery and culture, I cannot forgive the erasure of Dandara dos Palmares and her replacement with a white woman. Not for me. edit 30.9.2021: you can see my full review in youtu.be/r2p25NxpkMg I might just be very stupid, but while I can forgive the basic misunderstandings of Brazilian slavery and culture, I cannot forgive the erasure of Dandara dos Palmares and her replacement with a white woman. Not for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robert Jr.

    See my review at the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/14/bo.... See my review at the NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/14/bo....

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yukari Watanabe

    This novel was a torture for me to read. I was hoping it would get better if I soldiered on, but it didn't. Every character acts and talks similar way (with tons of repetitions). They talk a lot but Jones failed to give deeper meaning to us. I waited and waited to learn there was some deeper meaning to each talk but I learned nothing significant later. The writing is simple. No beautiful/remarkable prose to marvel. Magical realism is not well executed or explained. What is it about "I'm no ordin This novel was a torture for me to read. I was hoping it would get better if I soldiered on, but it didn't. Every character acts and talks similar way (with tons of repetitions). They talk a lot but Jones failed to give deeper meaning to us. I waited and waited to learn there was some deeper meaning to each talk but I learned nothing significant later. The writing is simple. No beautiful/remarkable prose to marvel. Magical realism is not well executed or explained. What is it about "I'm no ordinary woman." or "I'm no ordinary man"? Why do they have to tell others if they are not "ordinary". Is it important for the entire book that this should be repeated? That's just an example. I found so many conversations and phrases unnecessary. The worst thing is Jones gave me no reason whatsoever to care about the main character. She showed no inner depth (or Jones failed to show me). And again, the repetitions! It drove me crazy. By the half way of the novel, every time a character repeated the same/similar words or laughed the same way, I wanted to through the book to the wall. Maybe it's "It's not you, it's me" situation since there are more people who gave 5 stars here. To me, it was one star. It was my honest opinion. I added one more star for Jones's courageous comeback after so many years. P.S. This video review by a Brazilian person is MUCH better than the book! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2p25...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robert Lashley

    As magnificent as the prose and narrative constructs are( and as malignantly woke as her vociferous critics can be), one must abide by the due diligence of intelligence and research and openly speculate that-if she were alive to edit this-Toni Morrison would send Jones to the library to do more research. Jones' lack of interest in the realities of Brazillian Slavery flies in the face of the African American tradition of Hurston's research, Morrison's own alchemy of magical realism, and Hughes's As magnificent as the prose and narrative constructs are( and as malignantly woke as her vociferous critics can be), one must abide by the due diligence of intelligence and research and openly speculate that-if she were alive to edit this-Toni Morrison would send Jones to the library to do more research. Jones' lack of interest in the realities of Brazillian Slavery flies in the face of the African American tradition of Hurston's research, Morrison's own alchemy of magical realism, and Hughes's noble field and groundwork in translating The Ultraists, Nicholas Guillen, and Gabriela Mistral. The disappointment of the literary year.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Duke

    I love Gayl Jones, so this return depresses me. It's great for a hundred pages and then devolves into digressions of faulty magical realism, recurring characters that lead to little or no actual studies of character, and the prose in and of itself is faulty. Where did the prose stylist of Corregidora and The Healing go? Palmares feels bereft of aesthetic intentionality or value. Few sentences or paragraphs leave an imprint. It also just irritates me that, according to Brazilian readers, Jones' r I love Gayl Jones, so this return depresses me. It's great for a hundred pages and then devolves into digressions of faulty magical realism, recurring characters that lead to little or no actual studies of character, and the prose in and of itself is faulty. Where did the prose stylist of Corregidora and The Healing go? Palmares feels bereft of aesthetic intentionality or value. Few sentences or paragraphs leave an imprint. It also just irritates me that, according to Brazilian readers, Jones' representation of the quilombo social realm and Brazilian slavery altogether is flawed, at least that's the word to use when trying to speak kindly. Sad to see Jones fall back on mediocrity in a literary project that clearly means the world to her, as she has thought and written about this subject matter in prior work and supposedly has had some form a manuscript of this novel for decades. Tragic. Undoubtedly the biggest disappoint of my literary year.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ann Pearlman

    I enjoyed Jones' previous novels. I have been in Brazil and was fascinated by the cultural mixtures as well as the stories about Palamares. Unfortunately, Palamares was repetitive in language and a disappointment. I enjoyed Jones' previous novels. I have been in Brazil and was fascinated by the cultural mixtures as well as the stories about Palamares. Unfortunately, Palamares was repetitive in language and a disappointment.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicole D.

    3.5/5 Holy crap, it took me a long time to finish this book. That tells you something. Though it was interesting and sometimes really engaging - other times it was meandering and repetitive and ultimately more of a character study woven with folklore than much of a story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    umm, yeah this one is MUST READ!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Jessee

    Historically detailed novel regarding Almeyda, an African woman in Brazil.in the 17th century. She grows up a slave, believes she and others are free Blacks in Palmares, a gathering of former slsves. But the status of Blacks in Brazil.is complex and interwoven with the natives, the Dutch and the P ortuguese. I wanted to like thus, as I have admired other works of Gayl Jones, but I found this tecious, repetitious, and dull in character development.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Meli

    oooo quero em português 🙏 NYT Books writes in its Toni Morrison feature, that "during the years that she worked at Random House, she published books by Muhammad Ali, Henry Dumas, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Toni Cade Bambara and Gayl Jones, whom she discovered in the 1970s. Jones’s manuscript was so impressive that when Morrison read it for the first time, uppermost in her mind, she once wrote, was “that no novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this.” oooo quero em português 🙏 NYT Books writes in its Toni Morrison feature, that "during the years that she worked at Random House, she published books by Muhammad Ali, Henry Dumas, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton, Toni Cade Bambara and Gayl Jones, whom she discovered in the 1970s. Jones’s manuscript was so impressive that when Morrison read it for the first time, uppermost in her mind, she once wrote, was “that no novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this.”

  11. 5 out of 5

    Patty Killion

    As much as I truly wanted to love this book, it became a struggle for me to complete. The author, Gayl Jones is such an elegant and beautiful writer. This in itself kept me going. However, I am ignorant on Brazilian slavery and culture and that is not the author's fault. Because of this the vocabulary was foreign to me. I was constantly searching Google for definitions of words, which made it a tedious chore. I enjoy learning from the books that I read and normally do have to check with Google bu As much as I truly wanted to love this book, it became a struggle for me to complete. The author, Gayl Jones is such an elegant and beautiful writer. This in itself kept me going. However, I am ignorant on Brazilian slavery and culture and that is not the author's fault. Because of this the vocabulary was foreign to me. I was constantly searching Google for definitions of words, which made it a tedious chore. I enjoy learning from the books that I read and normally do have to check with Google but just not to this extent. Plus, I did feel the author took the liberty of many repetitions on how her characters talked and acted within the story. I honestly feel bad that this book was just not for me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Hershey

    I was immersed for the most part, but the book felt flat and confusing at times. Characters would be introduced and then disappear. It was a slog getting through the some of it. Still, I did love Almeyda and connected with her. It was great to finally read a Gayl Jones novel and I will go back now and read one of her earlier books.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I am like the reported man who stood and asked Robert Frost after he finished reading his poem at JFK's inauguration, "But what does it mean?". I will review sometime soon, assuming I can work up the nerve. I am like the reported man who stood and asked Robert Frost after he finished reading his poem at JFK's inauguration, "But what does it mean?". I will review sometime soon, assuming I can work up the nerve.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    I can’t get into this at all. The writing is rambling and repetitive and confusing, the story isn’t going anywhere, and I’ve lost interest.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Somerstein

    Fever dream Based in history, this powerful story flies in the unconscious like an acid trip. Beautiful, poetic, it’s the real thing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tilly Fitzgerald

    Beautiful writing, mystical, magical but just too rambling after a while - ideal for those who really want to lose themselves in a book for quite a while…

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    An interesting premise and fascinating subject, but I got bogged down with the details that I found irrelevant and verbose.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fragode

  19. 5 out of 5

    Corey

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elicia

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mey Linhares

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ruth N

  23. 5 out of 5

    Godefr

  24. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor

  26. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Perry

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura Linart

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kalisha Buckhanon

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  30. 4 out of 5

    Roberta Swift

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