Political Rewind: Author, poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers weaves a powerful story in debut novel
Monday on Political Rewind: We revisit our conversation with Honorée Fanonne Jeffers on her debut novel,The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois. It is a big-hearted epic leading us through the generational history of an African American family with deep roots in Georgia. Jeffers, a National Book Award-nominated poet, tells the story through rich characters and their family ties; from Creek Indian ancestors, through the wrenching years of slavery and to their eventual emergence as members of the Black professional class.
Influential Black intellectual W.E.B. DuBois is a constant presence throughout the novel. Jeffers said she wanted DuBois' love of Southern Black communities to be the glue binding the threads of her story together.
"I wanted that love to be the spine of the novel," Jeffers said, "So that when we move through different, very difficult moments — historical moments — you would always know that we will return to that love."
It is a story filled with joy and sorrow, with Georgia at its center. The novel's vivid characters reflect on their ties to the South, with one character noting it is hard to believe one can ache for a place when it hurt you so badly.
"I cried when I wrote those words, because I do ache for the South," Jeffers said. "There's a feeling that those of us who grew up in the South have, and we do ache for that place."
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers — Author, The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois
Patricia Murphy — Lead columnist, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution