Cover image for Jam on the vine : a novel
Jam on the vine : a novel
Barnett, LaShonda K. (LaShonda Katrice), 1974-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Press, [2015]
Physical Description:
viii, 323 pages ; 24 cm
"Follows the story of Ivoe Williams, an African American woman journalist, through the start of the twentieth century"--Provided by publisher.
Format :


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Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library
Audubon Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
East Delavan Branch Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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A new American classic: a dynamic tale of triumph against the odds and the compelling story of one woman's struggle for equality that belongs alongside Jazz by Toni Morrison and The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, first ignites her lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother's white employer. Living in the poor, segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in printed matter as an escape from her dour surroundings. She earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson College in Austin, only to return over-qualified to the menial labor offered by her hometown's racially-biased employers.

Ivoe eventually flees the Jim Crow South with her family and settles in Kansas City, where she and her former teacher and lover, Ona, found the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam! On the Vine . In the throes of the Red Summer--the 1919 outbreak of lynchings and race riots across the Midwest--Ivoe risks her freedom, and her life, to call attention to the atrocities of segregation in the American prison system.

Skillfully interweaving Ivoe's story with those of her family members, LaShonda Katrice Barnett's Jam! On the Vine is both an epic vision of the hardships and injustices that defined an era and a moving and compelling story of a complicated history we only thought we knew.

Author Notes

LaShonda Katrice Barnett was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1974 and grew up in Park Forest, Illinois. She is the author of a story collection and editor of the volumes: I Got Thunder: Black Women Songwriters On Their Craft (2007) and Off the Record: Conversations with African American & Brazilian Women Musicians (Rowman & Littlefield, Spring 2014). For short fiction she received the College Language Association Award and the New York Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Artist Grant. Recent awards for writing and historical fiction research include the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities & National Endowment for the Humanities grant #45.129; Mystic Seaport's Munson Institute of Maritime Culture Paul Cuffe Memorial Fellowship; Sewanee Writers Conference Tennessee Williams Scholarship and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Advanced Fiction fellowship. A graduate of the University of Missouri, she received an M.A. in Women's History from Sarah Lawrence College and the Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary. She has taught literature and history at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College and Brown University.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In her first novel, Barnett skillfully plumbs historical accounts of black American life in the Jim Crow era and weaves them into an engaging and enlightening family saga. The story centers on Ivoe Williams, born in east Texas in 1888, a precocious young girl who becomes obsessed with reading as a means of escaping her seemingly hopeless life. Encouraged by her mentor, Ona, Ivoe earns a scholarship to Willetson Collegiate and Normal Institute in Austin, where she studies printing, typesetting, literature, and history. After graduation, Ivoe is prevented from following her dream of writing for a newspaper in both her hometown and Kansas City, where she is turned down repeatedly owing to her race and her gender. She is joined in Kansas City by Ona, her teacher- become-lover and together, in 1918, they found the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam! On the Vine, which shines light on black achievement as well as detailing the systemic economic oppression and brutality rooted in racism, which was so prevalent then, only one generation removed from slavery.--Donovan, Deborah Copyright 2015 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This wonderful debut novel takes the early 20th century and brings it to life, both in the South and in the Midwest. Ivoe Williams is a brilliant young woman who grows up in Texas, the child of emancipated slaves, and despite the obstacles she faces, manages to get a degree in journalism in Austin. But no newspapers will hire her because she is an African-American woman. Her frustration with the Jim Crow South causes her to uproot and move to Kansas City, where she and her lover, Ona, start a newspaper, the first female-run African-American newspaper, called Jam! On the Vine. She uses this platform to examine segregation and the American prison system of the day, sometimes at great personal risk. Barnett doesn't shy from exploring the queer community of the time, "othering" her protagonist even further, while the experiences of Ivoe's family add a wonderfully vibrant, fully realized vision of the shadowy corners of America's history. Agent: Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Fleeing central-east Texas for Kansas City, the college-educated Ivoe Williams and her lover Ona, a former teacher, founded the first female-run African American newspaper just before the Red Summer of 1919. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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