My Monticello

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Pub Date 4 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 4 Dec 2021

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Description

What we saw in those moments riveted us, and then it set us free.

An electrifying debut from one of the most exciting new voices in American fiction

In a time of rolling blackouts and terrible storms battering America, the neighbourhood of 1st Street, Charlottesville is attacked by violent white supremacists. Families, friends and strangers flee for their lives in an abandoned bus, taking refuge in Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's historic plantation home in the hills above town.

Over nineteen heart-stopping days the group find ways to care for and sustain one another as the world burns around them.

Told by Da'Naisha Love, a young Black descendant of Jefferson and Sally Hemings, My Monticello is a searing indictment of racism past and present, and a powerful vision of resistance, hope and love.

What we saw in those moments riveted us, and then it set us free.

An electrifying debut from one of the most exciting new voices in American fiction

In a time of rolling blackouts and terrible storms...


Advance Praise

'Electrifying' Colson Whitehead

'Absolutely unforgettable' Roxane Gay

'Breathtaking' Megha Majumdar

'Brilliant' Danielle Evans

'Stunning' Charles Yu

'Beautiful' Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

'Electrifying' Colson Whitehead

'Absolutely unforgettable' Roxane Gay

'Breathtaking' Megha Majumdar

'Brilliant' Danielle Evans

'Stunning' Charles Yu

'Beautiful' Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781787303027
PRICE £12.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 14 members


Featured Reviews

My Monticello is a visceral and at times hard-to-read novella, but it’s also a story which is difficult to put down. The plot is apocalyptic, chronicling a black woman’s escape from a violent neo-Nazi group in the near future. Set in Charlottesville in the U.S., it focuses on her struggle to flee, along with her neighbours. They eventually settle in Jefferson’s plantation home, Monticello, where their ancestors were slaves in the eighteenth century. The irony of white supremacists hounding black Americans into a presidential building to escape racial violence was not lost on me while reading this novella. The pace of the writing and the lush description kept me turning pages so quickly I read this within four hours. The tension of the narrator being in love with two men while being secretly pregnant at the same time also made me read faster. It’s a love story with a twist, and it really makes you think about race riots from a different perspective. I also love that the cover has a black woman featured on it, apparently still a rare image for a book by a female black author. Thank you to Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, Random House UK, and NetGalley, for this ARC in return for an honest review. My Monticello is available to pre-order and will be published on 4th November 2021.

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To be a person of colour in America is to be never safe as there will always be white people who want you dead. My Monticello imagines a scenario where the white people come for you with guns, emboldened by rhetoric. It is set in Virginia, around the home of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was both a Founding Father and a slaver. He never planned for rights to be extended for all. My Monticello is a tense exploration of what happens when descendants of Sally Hemings and their neighbours are forced to take refuge in Jefferson's old house, built on the blood of slaves. It is what would happen if Trump's followers had their way. Men would rampage through the streets, looking for someone to lynch as they did with Emmett Till. I was afraid reading this book, as it read like a nonfiction account of the near future.

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I love a book where you end up spending as much time googling the real life history behind the novel as reading the book itself! My Monticello is such a book. Set in the future in the US, a group of local residents flee their local neighbourhood with escalating racial violence surrounding them. They seek refuge in the historic Monticello, the historic slave plantation of Thomas Jefferson. There they form their own community fearing the violence they’ve left behind. Raw, powerful and a great contemporary voice.

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I really loved this novella - the near future it describes is scarily plausible and the premise is a fascinating one. It’s one of the more subtle discourses on race in America that I’ve read in the past couple of years but it makes its point effectively and beautifully. Highly recommended, thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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Naisha and her boyfriend are visiting her beloved grandmother when First Street is filled with marauding white supremacists, storming the neighbourhood in their SUVs, armed to the teeth. They’ve no choice but to run, three young black men fending off their attackers as they board an abandoned bus. Naisha drives towards Monticello, home to Thomas Jefferson and his many slaves, the ancestor of MaViolet and Naisha. At first, the company stations itself at Monticello’s welcome pavilion, unwilling to breach this bastion of the nation, but as the days wear on they make their way up the hill to the house. After a disastrous foray, it’s clear the city’s mayhem has only become worse. Nothing to be done but prepare to fight as the mob inches towards their refuge. Johnson’s choice of venue is potently symbolic as is Naisha and MaViolet’s lineage, descendants of one of the nation’s founding fathers and his slave Sally Hemings. Without explicitly referencing the 2017 Charlottesville riots, the subject of Donald Trump's infamous, provocative remarks, she unfolds events from Naisha’s perspective, a bright young woman whose very presence at a prestigious university offends right wing extremists, choosing to give her a white liberal boyfriend. All of this could very easily have backfired but Johnson handles her subject deftly, telling her story in vivid prose against a backdrop of social disintegration, pulling the thread of suspense taut as the novella edges towards its conclusion. An audacious debut, daring and ambitious, which deserves the praise heaped upon it,

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I love this book. It was smart, funny, and full of rich, vivid characters that stayed with me long after I had finished reading it. I would highly recommend it and, indeed, will be buying it for all of my friends as soon as I can.

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Set in a dystopian near-future, this novella tells of white supremacists taking over a black and mixed race community in Virginia and what happens to a small group of neighbours who flee their town and take refuge in what was once the residence of Thomas Jefferson and is now a museum. Johnson's writing is vivid and bold. An impressive debut. My thanks to Random House UK, and NetGalley for this ARC.

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My Monticello is set a fictional version of Charlottesville, USA when a brutal terrorist attack is launched by white supremecists. For nineteen days, a group of residents flee their homes to escape the danger and take refuge in the historic plantation once owned by Jefferson, and the ancestor of Da'Naisha who is now hiding there. As they struggle to survive not only their new companions and their unexpected homelessness, but their fears that their home will never be the same again, Strikingly poignant, Johnson shines a light on the racism and prejudice that is growing not just in the US but in all shadowy corners of the globe. Each character brings their own beautiful personalities, their own set of struggles from falling in love with the wrong people to feeling lost in the world and the group grow into their own type of family in such a wonderful way - bringing just a glimmer of hope to a hopeless world that if we just try a little harder for each other, we can pull through anything. Of course this was deeply unsettling, I think there was a part of me that wasn't sure how to feel about using the Charlottesville attacks as a basis for a fictional story, but the uncomfortable truth is this story holds important social relevance especially right now and definitely deserves a spot on your reading list.

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