The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is an incredibly black feminist work of historical fiction that explores the history of an African-American family in the southern part of America from the era when the Native Americans were forcibly dispossessed of their lands to the period of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, the actual abolition of slavery and the complex realities of African-Americans in more recent times.

This novel is 790 pages long, medium-paced, and written in an elegant but simple poetic prose. There are also certain magical realist elements infused into the storytelling. It makes quite a dense and emotional read, as one might reasonably expect from a book that tracks the history/stories of more than eight generations of a Black family in the given context.

Some of the heavy themes highlighted include the loss/ death of a loved one, grief, substance addiction, sexual abuse, racism, colorism, classism, and misogyny. However, there were equally a good number of breathers interspersed throughout the book that brighten the reader’s mood and make it easier to keep going, such as the presence of strong black female characters, black love, close kinship, self-love, and great friendships.

It is very obvious that a great deal of research went into the writing of this book, and I loved that the author tried to be very inclusive in her re-imagination of the history of slavery through a family with a mix of Senegalese, Creek, and Scottish bloodlines, albeit fictional. I also loved that, at every turn, it sought to advocate for intersectional feminism in African-American communities and within the academia.

You should read this if you enjoyed reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and other similar literature that explore Trans-Atlantic slavery and its aftermath.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blessing Azuka John

Blessing is a lawyer that loves reading for the fun of it. She is Nigerian and mostly enjoys reading books by African and BIPOC authors. You can keep up with her on Instagram @she_reads_and_writes where she discusses the books she reads and how they made her feel.

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