Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Author photoWHO:
Ayana Mathis


Published by Knopf December 7, 2012
(Originally announced for Jan.18, 2013)

Author tour to Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Iowa City, New Orleans, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC

“A remarkable debut.”

—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, a featured starred review

. . .

“Ayana Mathis writes with blazing insight…stunning authority, clarity, and courage.” —Donna Seaman, in a starred review for BOOKLIST

. . .

“Cutting and emotional…
The central figure in Mathis’ story is Hattie, who arrived in Philadelphia in the 1920s as a teenager, awed by the everyday freedoms afforded blacks outside of her native Georgia. But the opening is pure heartbreak, as pride and poverty keep her from saving her infant twin children from pneumonia.

“Though Mathis has inherited some of Toni Morrison’s poetic intonation, her own prose is appealingly earthbound and plainspoken, and the book’s structure is ingenious: It moves across the bulk of the 20th century, with each chapter spotlighting one of Hattie’s nine surviving children. (The title’s ‘twelve tribes’ are those nine children, plus the infant twins and a granddaughter who is central to the closing story.)

“Each child’s personal struggle is a function of the casual bigotry and economic challenges in the wake of Jim Crow. Floyd is a jazz trumpeter and serial philanderer who awakens to his homosexuality; Six is a tent-revival preacher who comes at his profession cynically, as a way to escape his family; Alice is the well-off wife of a doctor with a co-dependent relationship with her brother, Billups. The longest and most disarming story features Bell, who in 1975 starts a relationship with one of Hattie’s former boyfriends, highlighting the themes of illness and oppressiveness of family.

“Mathis gracefully shifts her narratives back and forth in time; has an eye for simple but resonant details; and possesses a generous empathy Jacket photofor Hattie, who is unlikable on the surface but carries plenty of complexity.”
—KIRKUS, a starred review

Media Resources:
About the book | Author bio | Reader’s guide | Download the jacket or the author photo | Listen to the RH Audiobook

Publicist for this title:
Kathy Zuckerman | 212-572-2105 |