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Palmares hails the return of a major voice in literature – ‘the best American novelist whose name you may not know’ (Atlantic). Gayl Jones was first discovered and edited by Toni Morrison, and her talent was praised by writers including Maya Angelou, James Baldwin and John Updike. After a handful of acclaimed novels, she withdrew from the publishing world. Now Jones returns with her first new novel in over two decades.

AN EPIC TALE OF LOVE AND LIBERATION SET IN SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY COLONIAL BRAZIL

From plantation to plantation, Almeyda, a young slave girl, hears whispers, rumours of Palmares, a hidden settlement where fugitive slaves live free. But can this promised land exist? And what price is paid for ‘freedom’?

In Palmares, Gayl Jones brings to life a world full of unforgettable characters, reimagining extraordinary historical events and combining them with mythology and magic. The result is a sweeping saga spanning a quarter of a century. 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.

Reviews

Jones's feats of linguistic and historical invention are on ample display . . . Gayl Jones's new work is as relevant as ever. With monumental sweep, it blends psychological acuity and linguistic invention in a way that only a handful of writers in the transatlantic tradition have matched. She has boldly set out to convey racial struggle in its deep-seated and disorienting complexity - Jones sees the whole where most only see pieces
Calvin Baker, Atlantic
A literary giant, and one of my absolute favourite writers
Tayari Jones, author of AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE
Gayl Jones's work represents a watershed in American literature. From a literary standpoint, her form is impeccable; from a historical standpoint, she stands at the very cutting edge of understanding the modern world, and as a Black woman writer, her truth-telling, filled with beauty, tragedy, humor, and incisiveness, is unmatched. Jones is a writer's writer, and her influence is found everywhere
Imani Perry
Palmares enfolds the reader in a bygone world, with a glance to our own, and has a great whispering lushness that is both magical and panoramic
Diana Evans, author of ORDINARY PEOPLE
Tremendous. A masterfully absorbing, mythic work from a vital voice. The gods have conspired to gift us a new book from Gayl Jones and my what a gloriously eddying read
Irenosen Okojie, author of NUDIBRANCH
A legendary African American novelist returns with her first novel in 22 years, an epic adventure of enchantment, enslavement, and the pursuit of knowledge in 17th-century Brazil . . . Those familiar with Corregidora (1975) and Eva's Man (1976) will not be surprised by the sustained intensity of both imagery and tone. There is also sheer wonder, insightful compassion, and droll wit to be found among the book's riches. Jones seems to have come through a life as tumultuous as her heroine's with her storytelling gifts not only intact, but enhanced and enriching
Kirkus
Jones reemerges after a 21-year hiatus with an epic and inventive saga that weaves together magic, mythology, and Portuguese colonial history . . . Jones brings her established incisiveness and linguistic flair to the horrifyingly accurate portrayal of racial struggle . . . it's a triumphant return
Publisher's Weekly
Gayl Jones conjures with deep intimacy and immediacy a brutal world that is centuries past but fully alive with spirit and mystery. Page after breathtaking page, her prose is intricate, mesmerizing, and endlessly inventive and subversive. Palmares is absolutely stunning!
Deesha Philyaw, author of THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES
Palmares, Jones' long-awaited fifth novel, is a blistering return to form worth the two decade wait ... Gorgeously suffused with mystery, history, and magic, Palmares is a remarkable new outing from a major voice in American letters
Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire
Set in the17th century, Palmares is a sprawling, ambitious tale of racial struggle, Portuguese colonial rule, magical realism & mythology . . . a sublime feat of imagination
Martin Chilton, Independent
I can't tell you the last time I picked up a book and was struck dumb by the sheer beauty of its prose, and the enormity of what I don't know, but I'm here to tell you Palmares is that book
Sam Baker, Noon Magazine
Set in Brazil in the 17th century, Palmares marries magic realism to an often brutal coming-of-age tale, which tells the story of slave girl Almeyda and her quest to find a hidden settlement where fugitive slaves can live as free people. Curious, intelligent and observant, Almeyda learns to read and write, but is also taught less conventional life lessons from her grandmother who knows the lore of plants, experiences mystical visions and has a glorious store of mythological stories. Sold to different masters, Almeyda journeys through a landscape that's as diverse as the people she encounters, eventually marrying charismatic Anninho and settling for safety of a kind in Palmares, which is short-lived. Sprawling, but intimate and dreamily intense in the telling
Eithne Farry, Daily Mail
The first novel in two decades from an author championed and, indeed, edited by Toni Morrison is a magical saga of love and liberty set amid the slave plantations of 17th-century colonial Brazil
The i
Palmares conjures up an epic quest for freedom and knowledge in 17th-century Brazil. The book's narrator is a young slave named Almeyda, who hears talk of Palmares, a place of refuge for the enslaved. Escaping there herself, she discovers love with a fellow fugitive, but the community is destroyed by war and her lover disappears. Almeyda sets out in search of him and of a new Palmares. Astonishingly rich in character and incident, filled with magic and mystery . . . always intriguing
Nick Rennison, Sunday Times
Palmares is an odyssey, one woman's search first for a place, and then for a person . . . a story woven with extraordinary complexity, depth and skill; in many ways: holy . . . [it] is the first of five new works by Gayl Jones to come in the next two years. After suffering the author's absence for far too long, we - the witnesses longing for texts like hers, the borderline sacred - can rejoice at her return
Robert Jones Jr., New York Times
Palmares reinvents 17th-century Black Brazil in all its multiplicity, beauty, humanity and chaos. It is a once-in-a-lifetime work of literature, the kind that changes your understanding of the world
Yara Rodrigues Fowler, Guardian