03 October 2022
This Black History Month, we’ve chosen Kaitlyn Greenidge’s Libertie for our Serpent’s Tail Book Club pick which was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize 2022. From the critically acclaimed and Whiting Award-winning author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman, this is an epic and refreshing historical novel about what freedom really means – and where to find it.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction 2022
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2021
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2022 PEN AMERICA OPEN BOOK AWARD
A Times Book of the Month
One of Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club Picks
‘A feat of monumental thematic imagination’ – The New York Times Book Review
‘An elegantly layered, beautifully rendered tour de force that is not to be missed’ – Roxane Gay
Libertie Sampson was named by her father as he lay dying, in honour of the bright, shining future he was sure was coming. The only daughter of a prosperous Black woman physician, she was born free in a country still blighted by slavery. But she has never felt free. Shrinking from her mother’s ambitions for her future, Libertie ventures beyond her insulated community, hoping that somehow, somewhere, she will create a life that feels like her own.
Immersive, lyrical and deeply moving, Libertie is a novel about legacy and longing, the story of a young woman struggling to discover what freedom truly means – for herself, and for generations to come.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kaitlyn Greenidge‘s debut novel, We Love You, Charlie Freeman, was one of The New York Times Critics’ Top 10 Books of 2016 and a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. She is a contributing writer for The New York Times, and her writing has also appeared in Vogue, Glamour, Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. Libertie is her second novel.
READING GROUP QUESTIONS
- How do you think skin colour impacts the lives of the main characters, particularly Libertie and Dr Sampson?
- Discuss the concept of ‘passing’ and its role in the novel. What role does skin colour play in the characters’ freedom?
- The idea of freedom is central to Libertie. How does the quote ‘Their bodies are here with us in emancipation, but their minds are not free’ apply to two very different characters, Mr. Ben Daisy and Libertie?
- What role does religion play in the novel? How does religion influence Libertie?
- Compare Libertie’s views on America and her views of Haiti as they pertain to freedom — for Black people and for herself. Discuss why you think Libertie left America, and why she decided to return.