Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor reads from new novel in SF
By Oakland Local Editorial Team
It's finished - now you can come and listen to the author share some of its stories.
Set in the South Carolina coastal area Lowcountry during the late Depression years, "Sugaree Rising" is the story of community resistance to a massive community relocation forced by a Tennessee Valley Authority-style dam building and rural electrification project. The novel details the struggles of a unique group of Lowcountry African-American people - commonly known as "the Gullah" - to maintain a religion and culture largely based in their ancestral African homeland.
Allen-Taylor's novel is loosely based upon the Santee Cooper Project, the 1930s era initiative that carved out two major lakes in the heart of South Carolina, brought electrification to scores of rural communities, but in the process, dislocated more than 900 families, most of them African-American.
Freedom Voices editor B. Jesse Clarke calls the book" a solid piece of work.
"The characterizations and the evocation of place and time are consistent, intelligent and well paced," Clarke said. "The weave between spirit and practicality is nearly seamless. Mr. Allen-Taylor certainly had a wide range of publishing choices for such a quality novel."
Allen-Taylor describes "Sugaree Rising" as a work of "African-American spirit naturalism," which he said is distinctly different from the more well-known genre of "magic realism."
Allen-Taylor said he also wrote his novel, in part, to counteract the broad, negative view of what he calls "the elder African religions," popularly categorized under the general term of "voodoo" and widely used as the source of ridicule in American books and film. While several novels were published describing resistance to the more-famous Tennessee Valley Authority project along the Tennessee River - including Borden Deal's "Dunbar's Cove" and William Bradford Huie's "Mud On The Stars" - "Sugaree Rising" is believed to be one of the first novels depicting South Carolina's major rural electrification effort of the Depression years.
Allen-Taylor's novel has received high praise from important American literary sources. The University of South Carolina Press said "buried deep among the ancillary tales of tricksters, the supernatural, and hoodoo is the unique coming of age story of protagonist Yally Kinlaw who, as she approaches the age of sixteen, is one of the most appealing young literary characters since [To Kill A Mockingbird's] Scout Finch."
Come experience "Sugaree Rising" for yourself and visit a piece of American history.
If You Go
"Sugaree Rising" book reading by author J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6
Where: Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th St. Oakland
Get tickets here: eventbrite.com/event/4828697765#