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These Ghosts are Family
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These Ghosts are Family

A Novel

By Maisy Card
Narrated by Karl O’Brian Williams / 9 hours 55 minutes

A transporting debut novel that reveals the ways in which a Jamaican family forms and fractures over generations, in the tradition of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

*An Entertainment Weekly, Millions, and LitHub Most-Anticipated Book of 2020 pick*
*A Rumpus and Electric Literature Most-Anticipated Debut of 2020 pick*
*A BookRiot Best Book Club Pick of 2020*
*A Buzz Magazine Top New Book of the New Decade*
*A She Reads Most-Anticipated Historical Fiction Pick of 2020*

Stanford Solomon has a shocking, thirty-year-old secret. And it’s about to change the lives of everyone around him. Stanford Solomon is actually Abel Paisley, a man who faked his own death and stole the identity of his best friend.

And now, nearing the end of his life, Stanford is about to meet his firstborn daughter, Irene Paisley, a home health aide who has unwittingly shown up for her first day of work to tend to the father she thought was dead.

These Ghosts are Family revolves around the consequences of Abel’s decision and tells the story of the Paisley family from colonial Jamaica to present day Harlem. There is Vera, whose widowhood forced her into the role of single mother. There are two daughters and a granddaughter who have never known they are related. And there are others, like the house boy who loved Vera, whose lives might have taken different courses if not for Abel Paisley’s actions.

These Ghosts Are Family explores the ways each character wrestles with their ghosts and struggles to forge independent identities outside of the family and their trauma. The result is an engrossing portrait of a family and individuals caught in the sweep of history, slavery, migration, and the more personal dramas of infidelity, lost love, and regret. This electric and luminous family saga announces the arrival of a new American talent.

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“Maisy Card is a great writer. Her compelling debut evokes the richness of culture and the inevitable impact of generational secrets, full of magnificent characters that continue to haunt me.”

Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Patsy and Here Comes the Sun

“Every family's got secrets but Abel Paisley's secret is monstrous and mesmerizing. These Ghosts are Family begins with energy and intrigue and, really, never lets up. This book is painful and shocking but it can be funny as hell, too. What a talented writer. Maisy Card has written one of the best debut novels I've read in many years.”

Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

“Through Maisy Card’s immersive storytelling, These Ghosts Are Family explores the intersections of generational trauma, love, and long-held family secrets, showing what it means to build a life in the face of history. I was hooked from page one.”

Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers

About the Author

Maisy Card holds an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College and is a public librarian. Her writing has appeared in Lenny Letter, School Library Journal, Agni, Sycamore Review, Liars’ League NYC, and Ampersand Review. Maisy was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, but was raised in Queens, New York. Maisy earned an MLIS from Rutgers University and a BA in English and American Studies from Wesleyan University. She is the author of These Ghosts Are Family.


Reviews

“[A] rich, ambitious debut novel...Each character gives Card a fresh opportunity to play with form: Chapters shapeshift here into historical fiction, there into folklore...Card’s ghosts bracingly remind us that no family history is comprehensive, that some riddles of ancestry and heritage persist beyond this lifetime.”

New York Times Book Review

“Through a fluid blend of patois and erudite descriptions of Jamaica, Card offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a troubled but resilient family whose struggles are inscribed by the island they once called home. This masterful chronicle haunts like the work of Marlon James and hits just as hard.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“A rich and layered story...A wonderfully ambitious novel: It sprawls in time from the uncertain present to the horror of slavery on a Jamaican plantation, examining racism, colorism, and infidelity and how they obscure and fracture a lineage...An intriguing debut with an inventive spin on the generational family saga.”

Kirkus

“Inventive and captivating. . . Card’s depiction of genealogy and historical research is spot-on…”

BuzzFeed

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