The Long-Awaited Return of Gayl Jones

August 5, 2020 | 2 books mentioned 4

Gayl Jones published her first novel, Corregidora, in 1975, which was hailed by writers like James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and John Updike—then she disappeared from the literary scene. Now she is releasing her first novel in 20 years, and at the Atlantic, Calvin Baker, takes a closer look at her fractured career. “The tentacles of slavery in the present day have grown into a principal concern of Black literature, and Jones’s early work was absorbed into this canon almost imperceptibly,” Baker writes. “Over time, her literary ambitions would evolve, as she published and then receded from the public eye, published and then receded. This spring, she self-published her first novel in 21 years—Palmares, a six-volume work about the last fugitive-slave settlement in Brazil. In mid-June, Beacon Press bought the rights to the book, with plans to release it in September 2021. In the sprawling narrative, set in the 17th century, Jones’s feats of linguistic and historical invention are on ample display.”

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).