Reviews

THE 411 ON JACINDA TOWNSEND

PRAISE FOR MOTHER COUNTRY (on sale at the Kimbilio Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/books-by-kimbilio-fellows-and-faculty, and other places)

“Two women separated by geography, class and culture are unexpectedly brought together in Jacinda Townsend’s compassionate, exquisitely written second novel, Mother Country… the ever-changing hues of motherhood and daughterhood, their gifts and losses for each woman and girl, are brought to life in the author’s precise, sensuous prose. Townsend is most eloquent when writing about Souria’s grief; the despair of her empty arms rendered, unforgettably, in language at once tender and brutal.” —Aamina Ahmad, New York Times Book Review

“An intense exploration of gender, race, and class rooted in transnational geopolitics and a tale that challenges readers to recognize the gap between sentimental notions of maternal instincts and the sometimes gritty reality of mothering… Townsend’s insights into self, motherhood, freedom and love, and her ability to illuminate multiple realities as this complex tale unfolds ensure that this is a gripping and provocative read.” —Shoba Viswanathan, Booklist

“This heartbreaking novel of motherhood and the pain of separation is as moving as it is dark.” –Dontanà Johnson, Oak Park Library

“The novel’s great strengths are the gorgeous prose and deep empathy that Townsend extends to both Souria and Shannon. Her multifaceted portrait of Morocco and insights into American privilege, transnational colorism, and transgenerational trauma elevate what could have been merely a tragic crime story. This thought-provoking novel highlights the precarious state of Black women and girls.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Townsend provides many perspectives on motherhood while addressing potent issues of kidnapping, slavery, rape, abuse, and neglect, and vividly depicting their consequences. Highly recommended.”Library Journal

“[An] impactful story of motherhood, resilience, and belonging. . . . In scenes both vast and intimate, Townsend brings to life the busy streets of Marrakech as well as the quiet suburbs of Kentucky. This moving story about love and loss will not easily be forgotten.”Publishers Weekly

“In Mother Country, Jacinda Townsend delivers on the promise of her debut novel with a tale that braids the trauma and dysfunctions at the root of American entitlement with the daily horror of survival on the other side of the world. The torment of the child-mother, Souria, and her absolute devotion to her daughter, two-year-old Yu, is elegantly spun with descriptions as poetic as they are brutal. Souria’s fortitude in the face of tragic deprivation condemns not only the visiting American woman who simply helps herself to Yu as though she were another bite of sweet mkharka at the buffet of a fancy hotel, but the country and people who raised her. In the end, Townsend seems to say, our pain, no matter how great, cannot be mitigated by inflicting damage on others—it must belong entirely to us.”—Ru Freeman

PRAISE FOR SAINT MONKEY (on sale at the African American Literature Book Club: https://aalbc.com/books/bookinfo.php?isbn13=9780393350821, and other places)

“[A] compelling debut…Townsend’s writing [is] full of fresh turns of phrase and keen insights.” ―Ayana Mathis, New York Times Book Review

This stunner of a novel—set in Kentucky just before Civil Rights blows Jim Crow to pieces—tracks the lives of two young black women, both outsiders, both searching, and the thorny friendship that holds them together.— Junot Díaz, The New Yorker

Most important, though, is the fact that Townsend is a fine writer who doesn’t let the historical setting weigh her story down, and juggles a pair of narrators without ever jumbling up the plot.
She come out swinging with this first book, and gives us one of the best debuts of the year so far.–Jason Diamond, Flavorwire

Takes us backstage at the Apollo and into the smoky, late-night clubs where the art of jazz is fashioned before our eyes… The reader is buffeted by the transformative waves of race and music in America.—Jonathan Odell, Star Tribune

“A breathtakingly insightful,
suspenseful, and gorgeously realized novel of cruelty and sorrow, anger and
forgiveness, improvisation and survival, and the transcendent beauty of nature
and art.”- Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“[A] novel to curl up with…Irresistible.”- Philadelphia Tribune