Juneteenth (Revised) (Vintage International)

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Juneteenth is a posthumously published novel by Ralph Ellison, who had left the novel unfinished at the time of his death. It follows the story of Senator Adam Sunraider, a white man who was an orphan taken in and raised by a Black preacher, Daddy Hickman. Reverend Hickman raised Sunraider (who was known as “Bliss” when he was a child) to be a preacher as well.

Throughout his life, Bliss saw and experienced Black culture and friendship with the Black community. However, as an adolescent, one of Bliss’s encounters (no spoilers here!) left him angry and embarrassed, leading him to turn his back on his Black family and become a scam artist rather than a preacher. Eventually, his views completely change and he becomes an extremely outspoken and horribly racist US senator––one with a number of enemies. The book switches from the past to the present quite often, providing insights into Bliss/Sunraider’s upbringing and chaotic present.

Although this book was left unfinished, Ellison’s genius shines through in the story. Juneteenth is a poignant novel that can teach us about the ongoing racism inherent in the world today.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 416 pages
Publisher Vintage
Publish Date 18-May-2021
ISBN 9780593314616
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Issue August 2021
Category Historical Fiction