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The Celestial Jukebox

A Novel

List Price: $25.00

December 14, 2004 | Hardcover | 6 x 9, 396 Pages | ISBN 9781593760526
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"A must for readers of modern serious fiction; a joy to the ear; a return to beauty in literature; it needs only a true spiritual dimension to achieve greatness." —Publishers Weekly

The Celestial Jukebox is set in the invented Mississippi Delta town of Madagascar. Cynthia Shearer’s rural south is dependent on the rather less attractive fruits of capitalism, including agribusiness, gambling, and the dwindling vices surrounding the retail trades. The mood, the emotional weather these days, feels like a very humid melancholy. Into this weather comes Boubacar, a 15-year-old by from Africa, joining friends from Mauritania already living in the area, new African blacks not especially noteworthy in a small town filled with Chinese emigrants, African Americans within memory of slavery, straggling members of the original white families of the area, and unsorted others.
In America, Boubacar sees a shining National Steel guitar in the window of a pawn shop in town and visits The Celestial Grocery, the virtual city center presided over by a cranky second-generation Chinese proprietor and his equally cranky jukebox that often hoards its treasure of Slim Harpo, Sam Cooke, and Wanda Jackson, stuck on the same sad Louvin Brothers song. The tie that binds all these lives is American popular music, its origins and its power.
The purity and beauty of the writing marks this book as that most rare novel, filled with music, struggle, and spontaneous joy.

About Cynthia Shearer

CYNTHIA SHEARER was born in Massachusetts and grew up in Georgia. After living for a number of years in Oxford, Mississippi, where she was a curator of Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner, she now resides with her husband and daughter in Texas. Her astonishing first novel, The Wonder Book of the Air, was published by Pantheon and received the 1996 prize for fiction from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.

Praise

“Shearer has crafted a lyrical, floating world of an imagined Delta town that could not and does not exist, but perhaps should. Her touching characters and the beauty of her language overshadow any issue of pacing or self-conscious preciousness that threaten it, often rising to the level of prose poetry. A must for readers of modern serious fiction; a joy to the ear; a return to beauty in literature; it needs only a true spiritual dimension to achieve greatness.” —Publishers Weekly

“Shearer has created nothing less than a gem in this tale of intertwining destinies.” —Booklist

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