Jamila Minnicks’s novel, Moonrise Over New Jessup, won the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, and was longlisted for the 2023 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and 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. Minnick is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the Howard University School of Law, and the Georgetown University Law Center.
12:45 pm to 1:45 pm
House Committee Room 4
Fiction: Women Write About Social Issues, Acceptance, Survival, and Forgiveness
with Wendy Chin-Tanner, Nancy Crochiere, Jamilla Minnicks, Katy Simpson Smith, and moderator Tracy Carr
2:00 pm to 2:45 pm
Cavalier House Books Tent
Moonrise Over New Jessup: A Novel
Winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, a thought-provoking and enchanting debut about a Black woman doing whatever it takes to protect all she loves at the beginning of the civil rights movement in Alabama.
It’s 1957, and after leaving the only home she has ever known, Alice Young steps off the bus into the all-Black town of New Jessup, Alabama, 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 both hold dear. But as Raymond continues to push alternatives for enhancing New Jessup’s political power, Alice must find a way to balance her undying support for his underground work with her desire to protect New Jessup from the rising pressure of upheaval from inside, and outside, their side of town.
Jamila Minnicks’s debut novel is both a celebration of Black joy and a timely examination of the opposing viewpoints that attended desegregation in America. Readers of Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half and Robert Jones, Jr.’s The Prophets will love Moonrise Over New Jessup.
"With compelling characters and a heart-pounding plot, Jamila Minnicks pulled me into pages of history I’d never turned before." — Barbara Kingsolver
"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
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