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Publisher's Summary

In a daring and fierce debut work of fiction - the likes of which comes along once in a generation - Virginia’s landscapes, emblems, and Thomas Jefferson’s historic plantation set the stage for a cast of unforgettable characters fighting for their right to exist in America.

A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a White militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America.

Tough-minded, vulnerable, and brave, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s precisely imagined debut explores burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging. Set in the near future, the eponymous novella, “My Monticello", tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Led by Da’Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, they seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home in a desperate attempt to outlive the long-foretold racial and environmental unravelling within the nation.

In “Control Negro”, hailed by Roxane Gay as “one hell of story”, a university professor devotes himself to the study of racism and the development of ACMs (average American Caucasian males) by clinically observing his own son from birth in order to “painstakingly mark the route of this Black child too, one whom I could prove was so strikingly decent and true that America could not find fault in him unless we as a nation had projected it there”. Johnson’s characters all seek out home as a place and an internal state, whether in the form of a Nigerian widower who immigrates to a meager existence in the city of Alexandria, finding himself adrift; a young mixed-race woman who adopts a new tongue and name to escape the landscapes of rural Virginia and her family; or a single mother who seeks salvation through “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse”.

United by these characters’ relentless struggles against reality and fate, My Monticello is a formidable collection that bears witness to this country’s legacies and announces the arrival of a wildly original new voice in American fiction.

A Macmillan Audio production from Henry Holt and Company

©2021 Jocelyn Nicole Johnson (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

2021, Christian Science Monitor Best Books of the Year

2021, Time Magazine Best Books of the Year

2021, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Guide to the 100 Best Books of the Year

2021, New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year

2021, NPR Best Book of the Year

2021, Washington Post Best Books of the Year

2021, NYPL Best Books of the Year

2021, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

What listeners say about My Monticello

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

Wanted to like this but just couldn’t get into the story. Character narration was disjointed, over the top “acting,” and distracted from the story.

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A Must Listen

Each story in My Monticello is a gem. Jarring and beautiful and true, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s words take you into the lives and then the inner lives of her characters with expert storytelling. The novella My Monticello is one you won’t want to miss.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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a beautiful new voice

Just a beautiful collection of stories. The quality of narration is perhaps the best selection I have listened to.

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Poignant

What happens if we let hate prevail. But against hope we hope that the good in mankind will prevail. Beautiful writing. Looking forward to the Netflix adaptation.

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overall poor

worse book ever. poorly written with even worse story line. no end or beginning. end