18 February 2021
We are immensely excited to announce that we will publish LIBERTIE, the acclaimed second novel by American novelist and New York Times contributing writer Kaitlyn Greenidge.
LIBERTIE is the Roxane Gay Audacious Book Club pick for May 2021 and was named one of the most-anticipated books of the year by O, The Oprah Magazine, The Millions, Refinery29, Publishers Lunch, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, BookPage and Harper’s Bazaar. The novel’s many fans include Jacqueline Woodson, Brandon Taylor, Garth Greenwell and Nafissa Thompson-Squires.
The novel is set in a richly-imagined 19th century New York and Haiti and was inspired by the fascinating life of Dr Susan Smith McKinney Steward, one of the first Black female doctors in the United States.
Kaitlyn Greenidge: ‘I am so excited to publish LIBERTIE with Serpent’s Tail. I feel honored to join the ranks of the brilliant writers they publish and I’m looking forward to the conversations I hope this novel will spark with readers.’
Rebecca Gray: ‘I’ve loved Kaitlyn Greenidge’s work since I read WE LOVE YOU, CHARLIE FREEMAN, so I’m thrilled she is joining Serpent’s Tail for LIBERTIE. It’s a stunning book about freedom, race, the hopes we have for our children and how history resonates through generations. We can’t wait to publish this historical novel by a star of contemporary fiction.’
Follow Kaitlyn @SurlyBassey on Twitter
Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Brooklyn after the Civil War, Libertie Sampson was all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practising physician, had a vision for their future together: Libertie would go to medical school and practise alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else – is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? As she tries to work out what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it – for herself and for generations to come.
A NOTE ON THE COVER IMAGE
The striking cover portrait of an unidentified young Southern woman was suggested by Kaitlyn and is one of the historical artefacts that inspired LIBERTIE. It is from the Hugh Mangum archive at Duke University, a cache of negatives discovered in the photographer’s barn in the 1970s. They were taken between 1890 to 1922 in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia and offer a unique survey of society at the time, cutting across race, class, and gender lines.
ABOUT KAITLYN GREENIDGE:
Kaitlyn Greenidge’s debut novel, We Love You, Charlie Freeman (Algonquin Books) was one of the New York Times Critics’ Top 10 Books of 2016. She has written for Vogue, Glamour and the Wall Street Journal, was a contributing editor for LENNY Letter and is currently a contributing writer for the New York Times. She has received fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and runs a popular newsletter. She tweets @surlybassey.
PRAISE FOR LIBERTIE:
‘This is one of the most thoughtful and amazingly beautiful books I’ve read all year. Kaitlyn Greenidge is a master storyteller.’ Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone
‘In this singular novel, Kaitlyn Greenidge confronts the anonymizing forces of history with her formidable gifts. LIBERTIE is a glorious, piercing song for the ages—fierce, brilliant, and utterly free.’
Brandon Taylor, author of Real Life
‘Kaitlyn Greenidge has built a lush, imaginative novel, as dark and beautiful as its namesake yet as relevant today as during its 19th-century setting. I didn’t want it to end, and I fear that any attempt to render its complexity with brevity equals a failure to capture the book’s vast depth and its conversation with so many other important historical and literary works. A page turner and a gorgeous winner.’ Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People
‘The voice that fuels this novel is rooted in the body and rises toward myth, forged of history, ocean salt, iron, and hope. With LIBERTIE, Kaitlyn Greenidge adds an indelible new sound to American literature, and confirms her status as one of our most gifted young writers.’ Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You and Cleanness