Ginny Gall: A Novel by Charlie SmithGinny Gall: A Novel by Charlie Smith

Ginny Gall: A Novel

byCharlie Smith

Paperback | February 21, 2017

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A sweeping, eerily resonant epic of race and violence in the Jim Crow South: a lyrical and emotionally devastating masterpiece from Charlie Smith, whom the New York Public Library has said “may be America’s most bewitching stylist alive.”

Delvin Walker is just a boy when his mother flees their home in the Red Row section of Chattanooga, accused of killing a white man. Taken in by Cornelius Oliver, proprietor of the town’s leading Negro funeral home, he discovers the art of caring for the aggrieved, the promise of transcendence in the written word, and a rare peace in a hostile world. Yet tragedy visits them near daily, and after a series of devastating events—a lynching, a church burning—Delvin fears being accused of murdering a local white boy and leaves town.

Haunted by his mother’s disappearance, Delvin rides the rails, meets fellow travelers, falls in love, and sees an America sliding into the Great Depression. But before his hopes for life and love can be realized, he and a group of other young men are falsely charged with the rape of two white women, and shackled to a system of enslavement masquerading as justice. As he is pushed deeper into the darkness of imprisonment, his resolve to escape burns only more brightly, until in a last spasm of flight, in a white heat of terror, he is called to choose his fate.

In language both intimate and lyrical, novelist and poet Charlie Smith conjures a fresh and complex portrait of the South of the 1920s and ’30s in all its brutal humanity—and the astonishing endurance of one battered young man, his consciousness “an accumulation of breached and disordered living . . . hopes packed hard into sprung joints,” who lives past and through it all.

Title:Ginny Gall: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1.05 inPublished:February 21, 2017Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062434969

ISBN - 13:9780062434968

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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Hmmm 3.5 Ginny Gall is the latest work from prize winning author Charlie Smith. The title? Ginny Gall is a word coined by 1920's and 1930's blacks meaning..."a suburb of Hell". And that's where Smith takes the reader to start - to the Jim Crow south in Tennessee. The lead character is Delvin Walker born in Chattanooga in 1913 to a prostitute. He's left alone too soon as his mother flees, accused of killing a white man. Smith takes the reader on Delvin's journey through life as he makes his way - first finding a home with the local black funeral director and then mirroring his mother as he too is accused of killing a white boy and flees Chattanooga. He rides the rails, exploring America, hoping for more, hoping for better. But it seems he can't outrun prejudice, inhumanity and injustice. I loved Delvin's voice, his hopes and his thoughts. I wept at the fact that you could change the dates of the story and still post it under today's newspaper headlines. Smith's prose reminded me of black strap molasses - richly coloured and glowing when the light shines through as it is poured. But also viscous and opaque when not moving. I had to put the book down a number of times and come back to it. The prose are beautiful and lyrical, but I found them overwhelming in large doses. Smith details every bit of the book, sometimes to the detriment of his protagonist and his message. This one's going to be hard to rate - I think there's a very important message here, I think Smith's writing is beautiful and I liked the protagonist very much, but I just got bogged down in detail.
Date published: 2016-02-20

Editorial Reviews

“An intricate examination of the coming-of-age of a young black man caught in the cross hairs of American racial history… A story that is equal parts-and often simultaneously-moving and harrowing… The quotidian country world is full of magic in [Smith’s] hands.”