Author(s): Cynthia Bond
***SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS' WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016*** 'LUMINOUS' Guardian 'STUNNING' New York Times 'EXCEPTIONAL' Uzo Aduba (Orange Is The New Black) Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, "the kind of pretty it hurt to look at," has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city-the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village-all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town's dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy. Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom's Juke, to Celia Jennings's kitchen, where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man's dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.
Long-listed for Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2016.
Bailey's Shortlist 2016
Read Ruby by Cynthia Bond... it was exceptional. It was really incredible and very well written. It went into the belly of the beast, and I don't know if I'm fully out of it yet. Uzo Aduba, star of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Oprah recommended this book to me, and it is astounding. The writer has such a majestic command of language; she catapults everyday words into rare air with lines that sear into your memory. The characters Ruby and Ephraim shimmer with vibrancy - they show the complications of pain and joy, all messily and beautifully together. A total triumph Ava DuVernay, Golden Globe-nominated director of SELMA luminous... a love story about pure-hearted patience conquering insurmountable odds. Many will compare Ruby to the work of Toni Morrison or Zora Neale Hurston, as Oprah Winfrey has ... but it may be most apt to compare Bond to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Ruby is woven with magical realism -- Ann Friedman The Guardian stunning New York Times Bond proves to be a powerful literary force, a writer whose unflinching yet lyrical prose is reminiscent of Toni Morrison's. O, The Oprah Magazine Channeling the lyrical phantasmagoria of early Toni Morrison and the sexual and racial brutality of the 20th century east Texas, Cynthia Bond has created a moving and indelible portrait of a fallen woman... Bond traffics in extremely difficult subjects with a grace and bigheartedness that makes for an accomplished, enthralling read. -- Thomas Chatterton Williams San Francisco Chronicle Gorgeous... Bond is a gifted writer, powerful and nimble... [I]t's tempting to call up Toni Morrison or Alice Walker or Ntozake Shange. It should be done more as compliment than comparison, though...Bond's is a robustly original voice. Barnes and Noble Review A beautifully wrought ghost story, a love story, a survival story...[A] wonderful debut. -- Angela Flournoy Los Angeles Review of Books Reading Cynthia Bond's Ruby, you can't help but feel that one day this book will be considered a staple of our literature, a classic. Lush, deep, momentous, much like the people and landscape it describes, Ruby enchants not just with its powerful tale of lifelong quests and unrelenting love, but also with its exquisite language. It is a treasure of a book, one you won't soon forget. Edwidge Danticat, author of Claire of the Sea Light Pure magic. Every line gleams with vigor and sound and beauty. Ruby somehow manages to contain the darkness of racial conflict and cruelty, the persistence of memory, the physical darkness of the piney woods and strange elemental forces, and weld it together with bright seams of love, loyalty, friendship, laced with the petty comedies of small-town lives. Slow tragedies, sudden light. This stunning debut delivers and delivers and delivers. Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander Ruby is a harrowing, hallucinatory novel, a love story and a ghost story about one woman's attempt to escape the legacy of violence in a small southern town. Cynthia Bond writes with a dazzling poetry that's part William Faulkner, part Toni Morrison, yet entirely her own. Ruby is encircled by shadows, but incandescent with light Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena In Ruby, Bond has created a heroine worthy of the great female protagonists of Toni Morrison...and Zora Neale Hurston... Bond's style of writing is as magical as an East Texas sunrise. Dallas Morning News Evocative, affective and accomplished... Bond tells the story of Ruby and Ephram's lives and their relationship with unflinching honesty and a surreal, haunting quality. Texas Observer If you love well-written historical fiction and multifaceted grown-up characters, put Ruby at the top of your beach bag... Bond delivers multiple goods with this one. Essence Cynthia Bond creates a vibrant chorus of voices united by a common struggle... [T]he prose's lyricism and Ruby's interaction with the dead call to mind Beloved... While Bond's characters may sense the inevitability of loss and loneliness, they are also driven by something else, a timid hopefulness that they may find serenity and compassion amid the ghosts who haunt them. The Rumpus Exquisite, juxtaposing horrific imagery with dreamy evocative lyricism. Lambda Literary Literary magic. St. Louis American Ruby explores the redeeming power of love in the face of horrific trauma... If the truth shall set us free, Ms. Bond shows us, in her story of grace, that love is truth. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [A] powerful, explosive novel. Bond immerses readers in a fully realized world, one scarred by virulent racism and perverted rituals but also redeemed by love Booklist (starred) [A] dark and redemptive beauty... Bond's prose is evocative of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, paying homage to the greats of Southern gothic literature. Library Journal (starred) An unusual, rare and beautiful novel that is meant to be experienced as much as read. Shelf Awareness (starred) A stunning debut. Ruby is unforgettable. John Rechy, author of City of Night Cloaked in authenticity, Ruby is unlike anything else out there right now. Windy City Times Impeccably crafted... Ruby is undoubtedly the early work of a master storyteller whose literary lyricism is nothing short of pitch perfect. BookPage Bracing...Undeniable...The echoes of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison are clear...A very strong first novel that blends tough realism with the appealing strangeness of a fever dream... Kirkus
Writer and educator Cynthia Bond has taught writing to homeless and at-risk youth throughout Los Angeles for over fifteen years. She attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, then moved to New York and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Cynthia acted for many years in New York with the Negro Ensemble Company. A PEN Rosenthal Fellow, Cynthia founded the Blackbird Writing Collective in 2011. At present, Bond teaches therapeutic writing at Paradigm Malibu Adolescent Treatment Center. A native of East Texas, she lives in Los Angeles with her daughter. Ruby, an Oprah Book Club 2.0 pick, is her first novel.