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Publisher's Summary

Instant New York Times Best Seller 

An Oprah Book Club Selection

"Epic.... I was just enraptured by the lineage and the story of this modern African-American family.... A combination of historical and modern story - I’ve never read anything quite like it. It just consumed me." (Oprah Winfrey, Oprah Book Club Pick)

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • An Indie Next Pick • A New York Times Book Everyone Will Be Talking About • A People 5 Best Books of the Summer • A Good Morning America 15 Summer Book Club Picks • An Essence Best Book of the Summer • A Time 11 Best Books of the Month • A Washington Post 10 Books of the Month • A CNN Best Book of the Month • A Ms. Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Goodreads Most Anticipated Book of the Year • A Book Page Writer to Watch • A USA Today Book Not to Miss • A Chicago Tribune Summer Must-Read • An Observer Best Summer Book • A Millions Most Anticipated Book • A Ms. Book of the Month • A Well-Read Black Girl Book Club Pick • A BiblioLifestyle Most Anticipated Literary Book of the Summer • A Deep South Best Book of the Summer • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award 

The 2020 National Book Award-nominated poet makes her fiction debut with this magisterial epic - an intimate yet sweeping novel with all the luminescence and force of Homegoing; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and The Water Dancer - that chronicles the journey of one American family, from the centuries of the colonial slave trade through the Civil War to our own tumultuous era. 

The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans - the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers - Ailey carries Du Bois’s Problem on her shoulders.

Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women - her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries - that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead.

To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors - Indigenous, Black, and white - in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story - and the song - of America itself.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

©2021 Honoree Fanonne Jeffers (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers

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What listeners say about The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

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Beautiful and Complex

The last few days were filled with nonstop reading. I could not and would not stop listening. The story was beautiful, complex, dangerous, daring, brave, and spiritual. Each of the characters were lovely, stained, and full of depth. So glad I took a chance on this book.

10 people found this helpful

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A must read

Such a powerful story - a story that depicts the suffering of African Americans particularly the woman so well it gives you chills. A story that is relatable stil in this day of how black woman are treated and the pain they feel. How they are told to suffer in silence and keep it moving. This book is now a favorite of mine and I can’t wait to ré listen again and again.

10 people found this helpful

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Just when you think Morrison, Hurston, and walker is all you need

I enjoyed this book so much. Thank you Jeffers for this beautiful work. Just when I thought all I needed in life was Morrison, Hurston, and Walker here you come with The Love Songs of WEB DuBois. The characters and story have wrapped themselves like a warm blanket around me. Thank you for this.

8 people found this helpful

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Regret purchase

I was excited about this Oprah pick. Initially enjoyed how the author went between stories and settings. About 3 hours in I had to stop listening as it became way too vivid in the descriptions of the sex scenes. Felt like porn. :(

8 people found this helpful

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Brilliant!

It’s helped me understand history in such a more clear manner…it helps me to be more empathetic to what the black culture has endured. It brought historical events to life. Brava!!! I could not stop listening!

5 people found this helpful

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Enthralling and Beautifully Written

29 hrs and I only stopped listening when I needed to sleep. It's historical fiction, but we know the experiences of the Native and African Americans are true. The atrocities are difficult to hear, but it was wonderful to hear about the resiliency and strength of this family. Uncle Root was my favorite character. Haven't enjoyed a book this much in a long time. Will also be buying the hardcover.

4 people found this helpful

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the love songs of W.E.B. DuBois

This is a well written story that will go down in the bestsellers lists for a long time I believe! Thank you all for a step back in time.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent storytelling

A compelling book with so many relatable storylines. I listened to each chapter with anticipation of what was to come.

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historic fiction at its best

there is so much to say about this work and the author. I can't imagine how much research was done to get this story out and I truly applaud and thank the author for doing the work. I will stay up front that I may be a little biased and that having graduated from Morehouse college the story brought me home in touched me deeply. having said that I would highly highly recommend picking up the book using the credit taking your time and soaking it in. well done and I look forward to reading your next adventure

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Brilliant

I loved this book, and I will miss these characters. A powerful epic that pierces through place and time.

2 people found this helpful