A Fugitive in Walden Woods

240 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $16.99
ISBN: 9781942658221


List Price US $16.99
ISBN: 9781942658238

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A Fugitive in Walden Woods manages that special magic of making Thoreau’s time in Walden Woods seem fresh and surprising and necessary right now. Norman Lock tells the story of Samuel Long, an escaped slave who encounters Thoreau, with insight and some welcome humor. This is a patient and perceptive novel, a pleasure to read even as it grapples with issues that affect the United States to this day.”

Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom and The Changeling

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“Portraying the traumatic psychological aftershock not of war but of slavery provides a convincing and complex narrative of new hardships faced by escaped slave Samuel Long in Norman Lock’s bold and enlightening novel A Fugitive in Walden Woods. It’s an important novel that creates a vivid social context for the masterpieces of such writers as Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne and also offers valuable insights about our current conscious and unconscious racism.”

Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife and The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman

“Unflinching, penetrative, and bravely earnest. . . . With melodic prose that marvelously captures [the narrator’s] searing insights and rich observations, Lock’s imaginative novel is a stunning meditation on idealism and the cost of humanity.”

Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)

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“Demonstrates Lock’s uncanny ability to inhabit historical figures and meticulously capture the vernacular of the time like a transcendentalist ventriloquist. . . . The text interweaves dialogue known to be spoken or written by Thoreau, Emerson, and Hawthorne with that made up by Lock and attributed to these giants of American literature. Lock’s remarkable achievement is that the reader cannot tell the difference. The real power of the story, however, comes from Samuel, who more than holds his own among these geniuses. His experiences of brutality offer profound insights that sharpen our understanding of American history.”

Booklist (starred review)

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“Powerful . . . both in keeping with the work of some of the literary figures invoked in its pages and in terms of larger questions of race and privilege in America. Precisely structured and abounding with memorable characters, this novel invokes the past while feeling decidedly relevant to contemporary issues and debates.”

Kirkus Reviews

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“Norman Lock’s American Novels series engages creatively with nineteenth-century literary classics. In the fourth novel in the series, A Fugitive in Walden Woods, a runaway slave encounters Henry David Thoreau and his transcendentalist circle and ponders the meaning of physical and ideological freedom. . . . Having an ex-slave as narrator opens an unusual window into what seems like familiar history. At the same time, Lock’s is a fitting homage to Thoreau.”

Foreword Reviews

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“A deeply insightful book that will force the reader to question race, social standing, and what it means to be truly free.”

Historical Novels Review

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In Norman Lock’s fourth book of The American Novels series, Samuel Long escapes slavery in Virginia, traveling the Underground Railroad to Walden Woods where he encounters Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Lloyd Garrison, and other transcendentalists and abolitionists. While Long will experience his coming-of-age at Walden Pond, his hosts will receive a lesson in human dignity, culminating in a climactic act of civil disobedience.

Against this historical backdrop, Lock’s powerful narrative examines issues that continue to divide the United States: racism, privilege, and what it means to be free in America.

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Excerpt from A Fugitive in Walden Woods