Moonrise Over New Jessup (Paperback)
January 2023 Indie Next List
“An absolutely breathtaking debut that celebrates Blackness in all of its triumphs. Both an in-depth exploration of all-Black towns and a love story all the same, Jamila Minnicks has written a stunning and poignant modern classic.”
— Mary Louise Callaghan, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC
Winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and Finalist for the Center For Fiction First Novel Prize
It’s 1957, and after leaving the only home she has ever known, Alice Young steps off the bus into all-Black New Jessup, where residents have largely rejected integration as the means for Black social advancement. Instead, they seek to maintain, and fortify, the community they cherish on their “side of the woods.” In this place, Alice falls in love with Raymond Campbell, whose clandestine organizing activities challenge New Jessup’s longstanding status quo and could lead to the young couple’s expulsion—or worse—from the home they each hold dear. As they marry and raise children together, Alice must find a way to balance her undying support for Raymond's underground work with her desire to protect New Jessup from the rising pressure of upheaval from inside, and outside, their side of town.
Based on the history of the many Black towns and settlements established across the country, Jamila Minnicks's heartfelt and riveting debut is both a timely examination of the opposing viewpoints that attended desegregation in America and a celebration of Black joy.
About the Author
Jamila Minnicks’ novel Moonrise Over New Jessup (Algonquin Books, 2023), won the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, is a finalist for the 2023 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and was longlisted the 2023 Crook’s Corner Book Prize. Her short stories and essays are published in The Sun, CRAFT, Catapult, Blackbird, The Write Launch, and elsewhere, and her piece, Politics of Distraction, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Jamila’s work has been supported by the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Jamila is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the Howard University School of Law, and the Georgetown University Law Center. She lives in Washington, DC.
"My favorite novels light up my brain with things I hadn’t considered before – and this one does exactly that. The deep complexity of the American Civil Rights movement; the various, sometimes opposing approaches of its leaders to desegregation; the gains and inevitable casualties that social progress can claim. With compelling characters and a heart-pounding plot, Jamila Minnicks pulled me into pages of history I’d never turned before."
“I was awestruck by its beauty, rapt by its originality, and astounded by its depth. But what astonished me most was learning that this is a debut. The craftwork is extraordinary. Was this book dreamed into existence? Did the Ancestors themselves place this story in the writer’s mind? From page one, I knew this work would transform me. It expanded the way I imagine what is possible in the art form. More than interesting, it is integral. More than important, it is inspiring. Read this book. Cherish it. Protect it. You must. Right out of the gate, Jamila Minnicks’s Moonrise Over New Jessup is a masterpiece.”
—Robert Jones, Jr., author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Prophets
"An immersive and timely recasting of history by a gloriously talented writer to watch. You will fall in love with New Jessup: the town and the book."
—Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of The Revisioners
"Elegant and nuanced, Moonrise Over New Jessup is an incandescent work of art through-and-through, from a powerful new voice."
—Jason Mott, author of National Book Award winner Hell of a Book
“Moonrise over New Jessup is a tender and beautifully written debut that shines light on the untold stories of the women who supported the foot soldiers of the bourgeoning civil rights movement. Warm and affecting, this book will draw you in with its heart.”
—Heidi W. Durrow, author of the New York Times bestseller The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
“No one who's read Zora Neale Hurston ever forgets her Eatonville. So too will Jamila Minnicks’s New Jessup live on in the American imagination as both a place and an idea. Moonrise Over New Jessup is a staggeringly beautiful love letter to Blackness -- particularly southern Blackness -- that celebrates the joys, sadness, and multiplicity of existence outside the white gaze. An absolute triumph, Moonrise Over New Jessup confirms a major voice in Jamila Minnicks, a writer everyone should be watching.”
—Dionne Irving, author of The Islands