I’ve heard this 2013 National Book Award Winner most often described as satire or even farcical. Satire, it is. Take a cross-dressing, wise-beyond-his-years, 12 year old slave who is kidnapped/rescued by John Brown. Mix in a rag-tag band of John Brown’s followers. Stir in a skirt-chasing Frederick Douglass, a slave rebellion in a whorehouse and a leader who prays for hours at a the drop of a hat and you’ve got a fast-moving, page-turning, thumping-good read of a book
Like all good satire, there is a heart underneath all the craziness. There were passages in this book that made me laugh out loud but there were also passages that just resonated as TRUE. And sometimes they were the same passages.
even though I’d gotten used to living a lie-being a girl- in come to me this way. Being a Negro’s a lie, anyway. Nobody sees the real you. Nobody knows who you are inside. You just judged on what you are on the outside whatever your color. Mulatto, colored, black, it don’t matter. You’re just a Negro to the world.
But a spell come over me that night, watching him eat that bad news. A little bit of a change. For the Captain took that news across the jibs and brung hisself back to Harpers Ferry knowing he was done in. he knowed he was gonna lose fighting for the Negro, on account of the Negro and he brung hisself to it anyway, for he trusted in the Lord’s word. That’s strong stuff. I felt God in my heart for the first time at that moment. I didn’t tell him, for there weren’t no use bothering the Old Man with that truth, ’cause if I’d’a done that, I’d’a had to tell him the other part of it, which is that even as I found God, God was talking to me too, just like He done him, and God the Father was tellin’ me to get the hell out.