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Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction
In this first installment of his epic Haitian trilogy, Madison Smartt Bell brings to life a decisive moment in the history of race, class, and colonialism. The slave uprising in Haiti was a momentous contribution to the tide of revolution that swept over the Western world at the end of the 1700s. A brutal rebellion that strove to overturn a vicious system of slavery, the uprising successfully transformed Haiti from a European colony to the world’s first Black republic. From the center of this horrific maelstrom, the heroic figure of Toussaint Louverture—a loyal, literate slave and both a devout Catholic and Vodouisant—emerges as the man who will take the merciless fires of violence and vengeance and forge a revolutionary war fueled by liberty and equality.
Bell assembles a kaleidoscopic portrait of this seminal movement through a tableau of characters that encompass black, white, male, female, rich, poor, free and enslaved. Pulsing with brilliant detail, All Soul’s Rising provides a visceral sense of the pain, terror, confusion, and triumph of revolution.
“As powerful as a hurricane. . . . All Souls’ Rising is really about us, our times, our prejudices, our race wars.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A serious historical novel that reads like a dream.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Rich and ambitious. . . . One of the most sophisticated fictional treatments of the enduring themes of class, color, and freedom.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A powerful and intelligent novel. . . . Historical fiction in the monumental manner.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A beautifully composed, eloquent, grand nightmare of a book. With it, Bell becomes as remarkable a historical novelist as we have in this country.” —Harold Bloom
“A work of breathtaking stylistic expertise on a large scale, easily [Bell’s] most daring and accomplished novel.” —The Baltimore Sun
“A passionately engaged opus. All Souls’ Rising reflects both a sustained imaginative audacity and great intellectual resourcefulness.” —The New Yorker
“Remarkable. . . . All Souls’ Rising deserves to be read for its fictional representation of history and for its compelling characterizations. But its political importance should not be underestimated. . . . Bell’s excursion into revolutionary Haiti is the attempt of an undaunted novelist to stand face to face, as it were, with the prehistory of our own racial divisiveness. . . . An important book.” —The Oregonian
“I’ve known Madison Smartt Bell’s work for quite a while, and this is the best thing he’s ever done–and probably the best thing he’ll ever do, which is my definition of a masterpiece. All Souls’ Rising is simply breathtaking.” —Gloria Naylor
“The scope of this ambitious narrative is heroic. . . . Bell demonstrates that each race destroys itself in doing evil to the other.” —Chicago Tribune
“A major work, a triumph of both storytelling and inspired historical analysis.” —Robert Stone
“A vivid, visceral tale. . . . [Bell] has taken the events of eighteenth-century colonial Haiti and made them a prism for the most divisive issues confronting us today.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Bell’s luminous, intelligent novel . . . is magnificent. It restores my faith in the energy of American fiction.” —Barbara Probst Solomon