Review: The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
Updated: Oct 26, 2022
The Prophets is a harrowing journey of love and identity in the time of slavery.
The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
It’s Pride Month which is the perfect excuse to talk about one of my favorite books of all time, The Prophets. Now, if you read my About, you know I’m not huge on the idea of literary masterpieces. That being said, I don’t know what else to call this. It’s a beautiful, unflinching look at queer identities, Black love, and white supremacy. Without spoiling the end, my mouth was absolutely agape. I had a book hangover like nothing I’ve ever experienced, yet I keep going back for rereads.
The writing is sublime. The prose is constructed so that the book says exactly what needs saying: no more, no less. That doesn’t mean it’s a simple read. The Prophet walks the line between the metaphysical and cerebral, incorporating West African spirituality into the cause and effects of the everyday lives of enslaved peoples.
One of the things that honestly shocked me is that this was clearly written to, for, and about, Black folks (particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community.) More commonly known to his online following as Son of Baldwin, Jones pulls absolutely no punches when it comes to the hand that white marginalized identities can and do act as the foot soldiers of white supremacy. But honestly, all he’s doing is telling the truth. Slavery left blood on so many hands, whether through entitlement or self-preservation. The reader sees how colonialism twists and infiltrates the minds and hearts of the very people it oppresses. How they unwittingly become its pillars to survive. We are treated to a brutal and inescapable cycle of the idea of the greater good and survival.
But The Prophet makes it clear that the answers to decades of injustice aren’t going to materialize in its pages. Instead, it holds up a mirror and asks us what we will do next. Now that Black folks have inherited the trauma as well as the stories that are our birthright, how do we plan to take our liberation? What will we do with our legacy?
Have you read The Prophets? What did you think of this debut novel?