No One Is Coming to Save Us
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, Spring 2017
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The Great Gatsby brilliantly recast in the contemporary South: a powerful first novel about an extended African-American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream.
JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina to build his dream home and to woo his high school sweetheart, Ava. But he finds that the people he once knew and loved have changed, just as he has. Ava is now married, and wants a baby more than anything. The decline of the town’s once-thriving furniture industry has made Ava’s husband Henry grow distant and frustrated. Ava’s mother Sylvia has put her own life on hold as she caters to and meddles with those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s undeserving but charming husband, just won’t stop hanging around.
JJ’s newfound wealth forces everyone to consider what more they want and deserve from life than what they already have—and how they might go about getting it. Can they shape their lives to align with their wishes rather than their realities? Or are they resigned to the rhythms of the particular lives they lead? No One Is Coming to Save Us is a revelatory debut from an insightful voice that combines a universally resonant story with an intimate glimpse into the hearts of one family.
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“A skillful riff on The Great Gatsby… Watts writes about ordinary people leading ordinary lives with an extraordinary level of empathy and attention….The ways in which No One Is Coming to Save Us intersects with and veers away from Fitzgerald’s familiar plot can be very rewarding… Every departure can be seen as a sly comment on what it means to be a person of color in today’s America…. The novel’s intricately plotted relationships pay off satisfyingly in its final chapters.” —New York Times Book Review (read full review)
“Watts is so captivating a writer. She’s unusually deft with dialogue…[The novel is] conveyed in a prose style that renders the common language of casual speech into natural poetry, blending intimate conversation with the rhythms of gossip, town legend, even song lyrics…An indelible story.” —Washington Post (read full review)
“Watts, with her knowing touch and full-bodies prose, delivers a resonant meditation on life and the comfort both in dreaming and in moving forward.” —USA Today (read full review here)
“The Great Gatsby is revived in an accomplished debut novel…Watts spins a compelling tale of obsessive love and dashed dreams…Watts’ gently told story, like Fitzgerald’s, is only superficially about money but more acutely about the urgent, inexplicable needs that shape a life.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Watts’ lyrical writing and seamless floating between characters’ viewpoints make for a harmonious narrative chorus. This feels like an important, largely missing part of our ongoing American story. Ultimately,Watts offers a human tale of resilience and the universally understood drive to hang on and do whatever it takes to save oneself.” —Booklist
“Stephanie Powell Watts’s inspired reimagining of the novel long regarded as the American masterwork of the twentieth century gives soul, body, and voice to those left out of Scott Fitzgerald’s vision of the American dream… bold, brilliant, and timely. It is just what contemporary American fiction needs.” —Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind and Sempre Susan
“A grand debut novel full of characters who come into a reader’s mind and heart and never leave. Stephanie Powell Watts is a writer of wondrous skill, imagination and sensitivity, and No One Is Coming to Save Us is a beautiful testament to that.” —Edward P. Jones
“Rich with wry and poignant observations on human nature, family, and black experience in America. A powerful-and, in today’s world, necessary -perspective on the American dream and the possibility of beginning again.” —Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You
“There is wisdom, vital and profound, on every single page of this novel. It’s a story about home—what it means to leave and whether you can return, and how it is people in the end who are its beating heart. Absolutely luminous.” —Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
We Are Taking Only What We Need
Whiting Award in Fiction
Winner, Ernest J. Gaines Award
Finalist, Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award
Finalist, Chautauqua Prize
Finalist, John Gardner Fiction Prize
Finalist, ForeWord Book of the Year, stories
Finalist, USABookNews.com Best Books, stories
Recommended, New Yorker
Best books of the year, O Magazine
African American women protagonists lose and find love, confront sanity and craziness, and strive to make sense of their lives in North Carolina. A Jehovah’s Witness girl goes door-to-door with an expert field-service partner from up north. At a call center, operator Sheila fields a caller’s uncomfortable questions under a ruthless supervisor’s eye. Forty-something Aunt Ginny surprises the family by finding a husband, but soon she gives them more to talk about.
Pulitzer-Prize winner Edward P. Jones writes “Watts offers an impressive debut that promises only wonderful work to come.” Fiction writer Marly Swick agrees: “Each story seems, at the same time, to be a breath of fresh air and an instant classic.” Author Alyce Miller notes that “Watts writes with a penetrating eye for the extraordinary moments in the lives of ordinary people. As I read, I found myself holding my breath.”
Available in Paperback