Independent San Francisco Bay Area publishers Freedom Voices announced this week the acquisition of publishing rights for “Sugaree Rising,” the first novel by Bay Area author, journalist, and political columnist J. Douglas Allen-Taylor.
A publication date has not yet been set, but is expected in late 2012.
Allen-Taylor is an award-winning journalist and political columnist who has written for several San Francisco Bay Area publications, including the East Bay Express, San Jose Metro, the Berkeley Daily Planet, Color Lines, and Race, Poverty & The Environment. He is a native of Oakland and lived for many years in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where “Sugaree Rising” is based.
Set in the South Carolina coastal area Lowcountry in the late Depression years, “Sugaree Rising” is the story of community resistance to a massive community relocation forced by a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)-style dam building and rural electrification project. The novel also details the struggles of a unique group of Lowcountry African-American people-commonly known as “the Gullah”-to maintain a religion and culture largely based in their ancestral African homeland.
Allen-Taylor’s novel is loosely based upon the Santee Cooper Project, the 1930’s era initiative that carved out two major lakes in the heart of South Carolina, brought electrification to scores of rural communities, but in the process dislocated more than 900 families, most of them African-American.
Freedom Voices editor B. Jesse Clarke calls “Sugaree Rising” “a very solid piece of work. The characterizations and the evocation of place and time are consistent, intelligent and well paced. The weave between spirit and practicality is nearly seamless. Allen-Taylor certainly had a wide range of publishing choices for such a quality novel. We’re very happy that he has chosen to publish with Freedom Voices.”
Allen-Taylor characterizes “Sugaree Rising” as a work of “African-American spirit naturalism,” which he describes as distinctly different from the more well known genre of “magic realism.” “The African-Americans of the Lowcountry do not view death and life and the spirit-world and the ‘real world’ as separate entities,” Allen-Taylor said. “They see them as parallel existences that can and do interact, under the right circumstances, much as scientists describe the relationship with parallel universes or dimensions.”
For more information go to www.freedomvoices.org.