Soon to be a Showtime limited series starring Ethan Hawke
Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction A Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Oprah Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year From the bestselling author of The Color of Water,Song Yet Sung, Five-Carat Soul, and Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography, comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive.
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.
Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.
An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.
About the Author
Awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Obama, James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, the #1 bestselling American classic The Color of Water, and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee. He is also the author of Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography. McBride is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.
Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the Morning News Tournament of Books
"A brilliant romp of a novel…McBride…pulls off his portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain." —The New York Times Book Review
"You may know the story of John Brown's unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, but author James McBride's retelling of the events leading up to it is so imaginative, you'll race to the finish."—NPR
"A boisterous, highly entertaining, altogether original novel ...There is something deeply humane in this [story], something akin to the work of Homer or Mark Twain.” —The Washington Post
“Wildly entertaining… a rollicking saga about one of America’s earliest abolitionists.” —People
"McBride delivers another tour de force...A fascinating mix of history and mystery."—Essence
"A story that's difficult to put down."—Ebony
“Outrageously entertaining… rockets toward its inevitable and, yes, knee-slapping conclusion. Never has mayhem been this much of a humdinger.” —USA Today
“An impressively deep comedy.”—Salon “Both breezy and sharp, a rare combination outside of Twain. You should absolutely read it.” —New York Magazine
"Superbly written....McBride...transcends history and makes it come alive."—The Chicago Tribune
"Absorbing and darkly funny."—San Francisco Chronicle
"An irrepressibly fun read."—The Seattle Times
"The Good Lord Bird is just so brilliant. It had everything I want in a novel and left me feeling both transported and transformed."—John Green
"[McBride's] effervescent young narrator is pitch-perfect and wholly original."—Geraldine Brooks