book pick
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
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Author
Ayana Mathis

publisher
Knopf

format
Hardcover

pages
256 pages
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12 January, 2013
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Ayana Mathis
About the Book

THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE

Ayana Mathis has just written THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE, a piercing debut novel that is reminiscent of early Toni Morrison and also of Marilynne Robinson. This is no coincidence, for Mathis has credited Robinson with being her mentor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. This novel, which takes place in Philadelphia, is infused with African-Americans' conflicted attitudes about the North and the South during the Great Migration. Mathis's writing is both spare and lyrical, unsparing and visceral, and gives her readers nearly complete access to her characters' minds and hearts. "Hattie knew her children did not think her a kind woman- perhaps she wasn't, but there hadn't been time for sentiment when they were young. She had failed them in vital ways, but what good would it have done to spend the days hugging and kissing if there hadn't been anything to put in their bellies? They didn't understand that all the love she had was taken up with feeding them and clothing them and preparing them to meet the world. The world would not love them; the world would not be kind." This is a significant novel by a significant new writer, and I can recommend it without reservations.

About the Author

Ayana Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is her first novel.


Beyond the book

“Remarkable…Mathis weaves this story with confidence, proving herself a gifted and powerful writer.” – Publisher's Weekly