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by Louise Meriwether

Louise Meriwhether's stunning first novel, Daddy Was a Number Runner, was celebrated by The New York Times Book Review as a work of "power and authenticity.... a most important novel," and is recognized as a classic American coming-of-age story. Ms. Meriwether's rich and deeply moving new novel - in the tradition of Alex Haley's Roots and Toni Morrison's Beloved - recounts the story of a South Carolina slave whose daring Civil War escape from Confederate Charleston to the Union Navy brings him face to face with his freedom, and closer still to his own soul.... The strong Gullah voices of the slaves of the South Carolina Sea Islands sang out, blending with the far-off sound of Union Navy vessels shelling the forts protecting rebel Charleston. Miraculously, from the shores of their verdant prison they knew that the promise of freedom lay at anchor just beyond the city harbor. And in the maelstrom that was the siege of Charleston, Peter Mango - ship pilot, husband, slave - spied a chance to slip from the shackles that both bound and sundered his family. A group of resolute runaways buoyed by hope but silent with fear assembled under the cover of night to attempt the preposterous: steal and deliver the gunboat Swanee to the Union Navy, running the gauntlet of massive Confederate forts that choked the route out of Charleston harbor. They were united in their flight by love and by painful histories: Peter with his daughter, Glory, and troubled wife, Rain, who grieved for lost loved ones not yet buried; July, who shaped his hopes into haunting wooden carvings; Brother Man and Sister, determined to return to the Master's land, but on their own terms; and Turno, Stretch, and Bite, for whom the long road to freedom was paved with difficult - and tragic - choices. "We is contrabands," Peter said. "We ain't slaves no more." Rising to the rank of Captain in the Union Navy, he was nonetheless surrounded by the ramparts of white prerogative, and haunted by the ever-present sp

Hadcover: 342 pages