by Regina Porter
Pub Date 04 Jul 2019
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When the boy was four, he asked his father why people needed sleep. His father said, ‘So God could unfuck all the things people fuck up.’
As America recovers from the Second World War, two families’ journeys begin. James Vincent, born in 1942 to an Irish-American family, escapes his parents’ turbulent marriage and attends law school in New York, where he moves up the social ladder as a prosperous and bright attorney. Meanwhile, Agnes Miller, a beautiful black woman on date with a handsome suitor, is pulled over by the police on a rural road in Georgia. The terrible moments that follow make her question her future and pivot her into a hasty marriage and new life in the Bronx.
Illuminating more than six decades of sweeping change – from the struggle for civil rights and the chaos of Vietnam to Obama’s first year as President – James and Agnes’s families will come together in unexpected, intimate and profoundly human ways.
Romantic and defiant, humorous and intellectually daring, Regina Porter brilliantly explores how race, gender and class collide in modern-day America – and charts the mishaps and adventures we often take to get closer to ourselves and to home.
'In this innovative and deeply moving debut, Regina Porter has mastered the kind of alchemy found in a great painting by Poussin: her canvas is vast, her subject ambitious, and yet her execution is so brilliantly devoted to particulars that is creates a miraculous intimacy. The beauty of this book lies in how Porter's characters, through resilience and community, art and creative love, cut new doors out of the corners they've been backed into by history'
Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
'The Travelers is a great, grand tabernacle of a novel, under the roof of which it seems the entire history of the United States and all its people has been gathered into a single blazing congregation. It is full of tales tall and short, lives black, white, and every shade between, from the north, the south, east, and west. None but the biggest-hearted, sharpest-eyed, most generous-spirited of writers could pull off a book like this. Regina Porter is some kind of visionary'
Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers
'Regina Porter's The Travelers is not only the compelling intergenerational saga of two intertwining families but also a deadpan and mordant chronicle of 20th century America's casual intolerance and racial violence, as well as a series of portraits of intrepid women, a celebration of family responsibility, and an impassioned reminder that we most honor those we loved by continuing to love others'
Jim Shepard, National Book Award shortlisted author of Like You'd Understand, Anyway
'In The Travelers, generations of two families - one black and one white - journey across time, race, geography and the wounds of history with sweeping breadth and disarming intimacy. Porter's debut signals the arrival of a fully formed, singular talent. You've been wanting to read this book for a long time; it's just that Porter hadn't written it yet'
Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie