The Tree of Forgetfulness: A Novel

Pam Durban. Louisiana State Univ., $23 paperback (200p) ISBN 978-0-8071-4972-0
A real-life Southern hate crime passed off as vigilante justice fuels this hard-hitting but lyrical novel from Durban (So Far Back). Beginning during WWII, the novel reaches back to 1926 Aiken County, South Carolina, as three young African-Americans, siblings Bessie and Dempsey Long and their cousin, Albert, are convicted after a white sheriff is shot dead during a Prohibition-era whiskey raid on their property. After several appeals, the case is overturned, only for a lynch mob to kidnap and murder all three of them. Durban follows this fictionalized retelling of the historical incident by showing simultaneous attempts by an uneasy town to bury the deplorable event and by New York City reporter Curtis N.R. Barrett to unearth it. Crisp and honeyed prose underpins this honest, well-wrought study of a community's shared guilt. The novel compassionately examines issues of complicity by employing multiple perspectives, moving between 1926 and 1943 to cast the Longs' deaths as both recent tragedy and decades-old history. Durban gently implores readers to draw their own conclusions in this nuanced portrayal of morality, law, and race in the South. Agent: McIntosh & Otis. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/17/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Open Ebook - 184 pages - 978-0-8071-4974-4
Open Ebook - 184 pages - 978-0-8071-4973-7
Ebook - 184 pages - 978-0-8071-4975-1
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