Saturday, January 28, 2012

Five best books by the homesick

Susan J. Matt is Presidential Distinguished Professor of History at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. She is the author of Keeping Up with the Joneses: Envy in American Consumer Society, 1890-1930 and Homesickness: An American History.

For the Wall Street Journal, she named a five best list of books by the homesick.

One title on the list:
Twelve Years a Slave
by Solomon Northup (1853)

In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free black man living with his wife in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., met two men who promised him a job playing the violin in a circus. He followed them to Washington, D.C. There he was drugged and, upon awakening, found himself the prisoner of traders who sold him into slavery. "Thoughts of my family . . . continually occupied my mind. When sleep overpowered me I dreamed of them—dreamed I was again in Saratoga—that I could see their faces and hear their voices calling me." It would be a dozen years until he saw them again. During that time, he was sold and resold, eventually landing in Louisiana. He labored there until he was finally able to get word to friends and family, who, with the support of New York's governor, sent a party to rescue him in 1853. Northup's account of his enslavement describes the arduous work, his masters' violence and, most tragically, the cruel shattering of families by slave auctions.
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Susan J. Matt's Homesickness.

--Marshal Zeringue