A haunting, beautifully written novel set in early-nineteenth-century Louisiana: the tale of a slave girl’s journey—emotional and physical—from captivity to freedom. Susan Straight has been called “a writer of exceptional gifts and grace” (Joyce Carol Oates). In A Million Nightingales she brings those gifts to bear on the story of Moinette, daughter of an African mother and a white father she never knew. While her mother cares for the plantation linens, Moinette tends to the master’s daughter, which allows her to eavesdrop on lessons. She also learns that she is property, and at fourteen she is sold, separated from her mother without a chance to say goodbye. Heartbroken and terrified, and with a full understanding of what she will risk, Moinette begins almost immediately to prepare herself for the moment when she will escape.
It is Moinette’s own voice that we hear—bright, rhythmic, observant, and altogether captivating–as she describes her journey through a world of brutality, sexual violence, and loss. Quick to see the patterns of French, American, and African life play out around her, Moinette makes her way from sugarcane fields through mysterious bayous to the streets of Opelousas, where the true meaning of freedom emerges from the bonds of love. An uncommonly rich novel, brimming with event and character, A Million Nightingales is a powerful confirmation of the remarkable novelist we have in Susan Straight.