Twelve Tribes of Hattie (Mathis) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
In a movement as vast as the Great Migration, there are so many stories buried in the ashes of memory, so much untold and yet to be sung that perhaps no book should bear the burden of telling it all. In the end, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is less about the migration than about a mother's loss and the toll it takes on her and her children, their feeble attempts to escape their lives and the costs borne by every one of them. Hattie's family represents itself and itself alone. This deeply felt novel does not seek to tell the story of all, but of one that perhaps might have been.
Isabel Wilkerson - New York Times Book Review


In a movement as vast as the Great Migration, there are so many stories buried in the ashes of memory, so much untold and yet to be sung that perhaps no book should bear the burden of telling it all. In the end, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is less about the migration than about a mother's loss and the toll it takes on her and her children, their feeble attempts to escape their lives and the costs borne by every one of them. Hattie's family represents itself and itself alone. This deeply felt novel does not seek to tell the story of all, but of one that perhaps might have been.
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times


Mathis’s prose is lush yet deliberate, with hardly a wasted word, and her touch is elegant and sure.[Mathis's] prose style…is clean and transparent, and though she manipulates time and chronology in sophisticated ways, she never leaves us…in the dense mist of her private vision…Too many writers of literary fiction tend to stage intimate stories in the hermetically sealed worlds of their own clever imaginations, but Mathis never loses touch with the geography and the changing national culture through which her characters move.
Ron Charles - Washington Post


Mathis’s prose is lush yet deliberate, with hardly a wasted word, and her touch is elegant and sure.... As certainly as August Wilson did in the plays of his 20th-century cycle, Mathis is chronicling our nation.... Why we read [stories]: because they remind us that every pain that anyone’s ever known is part of the human condition, and so we are not alone.... All of that unhappiness has happened before, and it will happen again. Likewise all of the joy. In the vivid specificity of Mathis’s tale, she is telling a universal story, and it is profoundly consoling.
Laura Collins-Hughes - Boston Globe


(Starred review.) Remarkable…Mathis weaves this story with confidence, proving herself a gifted and powerful writer.
Publishers Weekly


Writing with stunning authority, clarity, and courage, debut novelist Mathis pivots forward in time, spotlighting intensely dramatic episodes in the lives of Hattie's nine subsequent children (and one grandchild to make the ‘twelve tribes’), galvanizing crises that expose the crushed dreams and anguished legacy of the Great Migration…Mathis writes with blazing insight into the complexities of sexuality, marriage, family relationships, backbone, fraudulence, and racism in a molten novel of lives racked with suffering yet suffused with beauty. —Donna Seaman
Booklist


Cutting, emotional…pure heartbreak…though Mathis has inherited some of Toni Morrison’s poetic intonation, her own prose is appealingly earthbound and plainspoken, and the book’s structure is ingenious…an excellent debut.
Kirkus Reviews




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