On Sale: November 11, 2008
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A powerful tragedy distilled into a jewel of a masterpiece
by the Nobel Prize–winning author of Beloved and, almost
like a prelude to that story, set two centuries earlier.
In the 1680s the slave trade was still in its infancy. In
the Americas, virulent religious and class divisions,
prejudice and oppression were rife, providing the fertile
soil in which slavery and race hatred were planted and took
Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small
holding in the harsh north. Despite his distaste for
dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part
payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic
Maryland. This is Florens, “with the hands of a slave and
the feet of a Portuguese lady.” Florens looks for love,
first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master’s
house, but later from a handsome blacksmith, an African,
There are other voices: Lina, whose tribe was decimated by
smallpox; their mistress, Rebekka, herself a victim of
religious intolerance back in England; Sorrow, a strange
girl who’s spent her early years at sea; and finally the
devastating voice of Florens’ mother. These are all men and
women inventing themselves in the wilderness.
A Mercy reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery.
But at its heart it is the ambivalent, disturbing story of
a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her,
and of a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.
Acts of mercy may have unforeseen consequences.
Early Show - January 23, 2009
Diane Rehm Show - NPR - January 1, 2009
Tavis Smiley - December 31, 2008
Tell Me More - December 26, 2008
Good Morning America - December 22, 2008
Tell Me More - December 10, 2008
Diane Rehm Show - NPR - December 4, 2008
Fresh Air - NPR - November 24, 2008
All Things Considered - October 28, 2008
All Things Considered - October 27, 2008
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