The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

4 comments 5 stars

‘The opening pages of Ayana's debut took my breath away. I can't remember when I read anything that moved me quite this way, besides the work of Toni Morrison.' Oprah Winfrey

 
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Ayana Mathis

Fifteen years old and blazing with the hope of a better life, Hattie Shepherd fled the horror of the American South on a dawn train bound for Philadelphia.

Hattie's is a tale of strength, of resilience and heartbreak that spans six decades. Her American dream is shattered time and again: a husband who lies and cheats and nine children raised in a cramped little house that was only ever supposed to be temporary.

She keeps the children alive with sheer will and not an ounce of the affection they crave. She knows they don't think her a kind woman — but how could they understand that all the love she had was used up in feeding them and clothing them.

How do you prepare your children for a world you know is cruel?

The lives of this unforgettable family form a searing portrait of twentieth century America. From the revivalist tents of Alabama to Vietnam, to the black middle-class enclave in the heart of the city, to a filthy bar in the ghetto, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is an extraordinary, distinctive novel about the guilt, sacrifice, responsibility and heartbreak that are an intrinsic part of ferocious love.

Available Formats

  • Paperback
    $26.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9780099558705
    Published: 06/09/2013
    Imprint: Windmill Books
    Extent: 352 pages
    Stock Level: HIGH
    Please note: This information is intended for booksellers only and does not reflect the number of copies currently available in stores. If you are not a bookseller and wish to purchase this book, please contact your local bookstore, or click on the buy now button to find a good retailer.
  • Trade Paperback
    $34.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9780091944193
    Published: 04/01/2013
    Imprint: Hutchinson
    Extent: 256 pages
    Please note: This information is intended for booksellers only and does not reflect the number of copies currently available in stores. If you are not a bookseller and wish to purchase this book, please contact your local bookstore, or click on the buy now button to find a good retailer.
  • Hardback
    $39.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9780091944186
    Published: 18/01/2013
    Imprint: Hutchinson
    Extent: 256 pages
    Please note: This information is intended for booksellers only and does not reflect the number of copies currently available in stores. If you are not a bookseller and wish to purchase this book, please contact your local bookstore, or click on the buy now button to find a good retailer.
  • eBook
    CHECK RETAILER PRICE
    ISBN: 9781448134397
    Published: 20/12/2012
    Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
    Extent: 352 pages
See All Reviews

To review, please register or sign in

  1. Avatar

"This is a raw story of a mother's courage. A great debut novel for fans of Toni Morrison." - Kevin Guy, Sunday Mail

"Mathis traces the fates of Hattie’s 12 children and grandchildren over the course of the 20th century, simultaneously capturing the voices and daily minutiae of every one of her characters. The understated assurance with which the 39-year-old pulls off this trick – a complex and engrossing work that has huge commercial hit written all over it – is remarkable." - Sunday Times

"This fresh, powerful first novel turns the lives of Hattie’s children into an epic of America in the 20th century. Tough, truthful, wonderfully controlled writing." - Kate Saunders, The Times

"Ms. Mathis has a gift for imbuing her characters’ stories with an epic dimension that recalls Toni Morrison’s writing, and her sense of time and place and family will remind some of Louise Erdrich, but her elastic voice is thoroughly her own — both lyrical and unsparing, meditative and visceral, and capable of giving the reader nearly complete access to her characters’ minds and hearts." - Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

"This is a bold debut that sets out to address the huge themes of motherhood and US history through the tale of one dysfunctional family, and succeeds." - Financial Times

"Without Oprah’s intervention, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie might have been one of the greatest novels of 2013. But now – just in time – it’s certainly one of the best of 2012." - Washington Post

"This rich debut couldn’t be further from the straightforward 20th-century American family saga it appears at first to be . . . Spanning many decades, it is an intricate portrait not only of complex family ties, but also of one quietly strong woman who heads this complicated tribe of siblings, children and friends. With each chapter narrated by one of Hattie’s children, the power of Brooklyn author Ayana Mathis’ novel is in its ability to create distinctive yet precise characters brimming with recognisable humanity." - Psychologies Magazine

"The opening chapter is a cracker, exquisitely written, full of vividly evoked tension and searing emotion. It is painful – relentlessly so – with a devastating coup de grace." - Scotland on Sunday

"This is an impressive debut: tender, tough and unflinching." - Daily Mail