Monday, May 26, 2008

Pg. 69: Ellen Feldman's "Scottsboro"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Ellen Feldman's Scottsboro.

About the book, from the publisher:
A powerful novel about race, class, sex, and a lie that refused to die.

Alabama, 1931. A posse stops a freight train and arrests nine black youths. Their crime: fighting with white boys. Then two white girls emerge from another freight car, and fast as anyone can say Jim Crow, the cry of rape goes up. One of the girls sticks to her story. The other changes her tune, again and again. A young journalist, whose only connection to the incident is her overheated social conscience, fights to save the nine youths from the electric chair, redeem the girl who repents her lie, and make amends for her own past. Intertwining historical actors and fictional characters, stirring racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism into an explosive brew, Scottsboro is a novel of a shocking injustice that convulsed the nation and reverberated around the world, destroyed lives, forged careers, and brought out the worst and the best in the men and women who fought for the cause.
Among the praise for the novel:
"A riveting drama...inspired and inspiring.... Ruby is a gem of a character, and belongs with the best of William Faulkner's, or Alice Walker's, women."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Emotionally charged...a strong sense of dramatic tension.... Feldman gets her history right and...the fictional characters are rendered in artful service to the novel's larger project...a powerful tribute to the nine [Scottsboro] men.... Thanks to Feldman's scholarly research and her ability to imagine the interior lives of historical figures, more readers may hopefully learn about this significant moment in American history."
Atlanta Journal Constitution

"Spellbinding fiction.... Rich imagination, memorable characters and elegant but restrained prose.... On par with Feldman's characterizations is her subtle reflection of reality.... With a sure sense of storytelling, a deft hand at characterization and a stylish and sensitive use of language, Feldman has created another affecting portrait of the past. And in so doing, her tale of racism and poverty, lies and hopelessness, brings an American disgrace to life with eloquence, intelligence and passion."
Richmond Times Dispatch

"Feldman re-animates the drama in a novel that is based on archival records, court records, and first-person accounts but that succeeds overwhelmingly as a work of imagination...distilled with great subtlety and wit, into a story worth retelling and remembering."
Boston Globe

"A keen sense of drama...a raw sense of alienation and collision."
Publishers Weekly

"Feldman's simple, eloquent phrases and realistic representation of the human condition make her book gripping and demonstrate a masterful control.... Especially gripping is the painted humanity of Ruby Bates."
Library Journal
Learn more about the book and author at Ellen Feldman's website.

Feldman is the author of Scottsboro, The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, and Lucy. She writes both historical fiction and social history, and has published articles on the history of divorce, plastic surgery, Halloween, the Normandie, and many other topics, as well as numerous book reviews.

Read Feldman's essay, "75 Years After Scottsboro," on the Huffington Post.

The Page 69 Test: Scottsboro.

--Marshal Zeringue