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SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS’ WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
‘STUNNING’ New York Times
PICKED BY OPRAH FOR HER BOOK CLUB 2.0
Voodoo, faith and racism converge in an East Texas town, where a man is forced to choose between the sister who raised him and the disgraced woman he has loved since he was a boy.
Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city-the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village-all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.
Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen, where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.
‘Many will compare Ruby to the work of Toni Morrison or Zora Neale Hurston… but it may be most apt to compare Bond to Gabriel García Márquez’
‘a powerful literary force’
O, The Oprah Magazine
‘a moving and indelible portrait of a fallen woman… Bond traffics in extremely difficult subjects with a grace and bigheartedness that makes for an accomplished, enthralling read’
San Francisco Chronicle
‘Gorgeous… Bond’s is a robustly original voice’
Barnes and Noble Review
‘A wonderful debut’
Los Angeles Review of Books
‘Reading Cynthia Bond’s Ruby, you can’t help but feel that one day this book will be considered a staple of our literature, a classic’
Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light
‘Pure magic. Every line gleams with vigor and sound and beauty… This stunning debut delivers and delivers and delivers’
Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander
CYNTHIA BOND has taught writing to homeless and at-risk youth throughout Los Angeles for over fifteen years. She attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, then moved to New York and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Cynthia acted for many years in New York with the Negro Ensemble Company. A PEN Rosenthal Fellow, Cynthia founded the Blackbird Writing Collective in 2011. At present, Bond teaches therapeutic writing at Paradigm Malibu Adolescent Treatment Center. A native of East Texas, she lives in Los Angeles with her daughter.
READ THE FIRST CHAPTER BELOW
LISTEN TO CYNTHIA BOND READING FROM HER BOOK, RUBY