The Good Lord Bird (Paperback)

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With THE GOOD LORD BIRD, James McBride has given us the rare novel that manages to be hilarious while simultaneously addressing important historical and social questions. The book is narrated by Henry “The Onion” Shackleford--a young slave boy swept up in John Brown’s ill-fated crusade against slavery and forced by circumstance to masquerade as a girl for a number of years. McBride portrays Brown as a clueless, if dedicated, zealot bumbling toward infamy. His prayers put his followers to sleep and his battles, while bloody, often become slapstick affairs. But for every gut-busting scene of frightened slaves running away from Brown as he tries to liberate them and for every genderbending antic undertaken by Onion as he tries to keep up his charade while living in a brothel, McBride attacks a dizzying array of difficult questions about identity, belief and morality. Not since Twain’s THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN has an author been able to so effectively balance the ludicrous and the serious. This is a marvelous book, a page-turner you’ll want to savor. And like McBride’s memoir THE COLOR OF WATER, THE GOOD LORD BIRD is destined to become a contemporary classic.

— From The Good Lord Bird (James McBride)


Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Liev Schreiber and Jaden Smith
A Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Oprah Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year

"A magnificent new novel by the best-selling author James McBride." -cover review of The New York Times Book Review
"Outrageously entertaining." -USA Today
"James McBride delivers another tour de force" -Essence
"So imaginative, you'll race to the finish."
"Wildly entertaining."--4-star People lead review
"A boisterous, highly entertaining, altogether original novel." - Washington Post

Look out for McBride's new book, Five-Carat Soul

From the bestselling author of The Color of Water, Song Yet Sung, and Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography, comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown's antislavery crusade--and who must pass as a girl to survive.

Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry's master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town--with Brown, who believes he's a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry--whom Brown nicknames Little Onion--conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859--one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride's meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

About the Author

Awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama, James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, the #1 bestselling American classic The Color of Water, and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee. He is also the author of Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography. McBride is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781594632785
ISBN-10: 1594632782
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: August 5th, 2014
Pages: 458
Language: English