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All Aunt Hagar's Children: Stories

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  1,553 Ratings  ·  212 Reviews

Edward P. Jones, a prodigy of the short story, returns to the form that first won him praise in this new collection of stories, All Aunt Hagar's Children. Here he turns an unflinching eye to the men, women, and children caught between the old ways of the South and the temptations that await them in the city, people who in Jones's masterful hands emerge as fully human and m

Hardcover, 399 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Amistad Press (first published 2006)
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Michelle Turner
I was really excited to read this book as All Aunt Hagar's Children was written by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward P. Jones (The Known World). Although I liked the premise behind this book of short stories which deals with the African-American experience in Washington DC throughout historical time,regrettably I just couldn't get into it.

The first, In the Blink of God's Eye is about newlyweds, Ruth and Aubrey Patterson as the set about starting their new life in Washington. Shortly after their arri
Jul 10, 2014 Carole rated it really liked it
Edward P. Jones was lionized with the publication of The Known World, but that book kind of left me cold. I couldn't understand what all the excitement was about, unless it was the novelty of a black man writing about a black man who owned black slaves in nineteenth century America. The writing was stiff and the story was not gripping or even very memorable. But I changed my opinion about this author when I read his short stories. This is where his real talent lies, in writing about ordinary fol ...more
Jul 01, 2010 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
His third work of fiction and second short story collection, All Aunt Hagar’s Children is every bit as good as its predecessors. Like his first collection, Lost in the City, the stories here are set mostly in Washington, D.C. Some, like the excellent “Root Worker,” include southern starts or returns, even if just across the Potomac. They span a range of experiences and times from the late 19th century through to contemporary times. “Root Worker” tells the story of a smart, highly successful doct ...more
Jul 28, 2007 Pamela rated it it was amazing
This is an extraordinary collection of stories about African-Americans in and around Washington D.C. from the time of early migrations from the South to roughly the 1980s. I read some of the stories before they were collected, in The New Yorker; others when the book first came out, still others only more recently, so that in piecemeal fashion I've now read a few of the pieces in the collection three or four times. I mention this because, though I was a wildly enthusiastic fan of Jones's previous ...more
Jan 14, 2008 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-ones
Really beautiful, carefully crafted stories about life in DC.

I liked The Known World a lot, but wasn't completely sold on Jones until this book. In All Aunt Hagar's Children, he weaves the fantastical together with the harsh realities of poverty, using rich prose and imagery.

Even if you are not a fan of short stories (or fiction for that matter), I would recommend trying this book. Jones is such a talented writer that I would find myself stuck on sentences and phrases unable to move on (like wh
Mar 21, 2011 meeners rated it it was amazing
i gave 4 stars for lost in the city but i think that, when taken together, this + lost in the city would be included in my list of the best english-language writing from the past decade. [and you really should read both books together. the first story in lost in the city gets linked to the first story in all aunt hagar's children, the second with the second, and so on. there are also complex links between stories within an individual volume.] edward p. jones combines the economy of the short sto ...more
Roger DeBlanck
Jan 25, 2012 Roger DeBlanck rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
All Aunt Hagar’s Children is a collection of blistering and mesmerizing stories. The settings range across Washington D.C. throughout the breadth of the 20th century. The stories are full of unsettling revelations that produce adversity and change in the lives of a plethora of unforgettable characters. These characters encounter complex and moral struggles that test their ability to overcome the destabilizing forces of sadness, emptiness, and loss. Jones covers territory as disturbing as the hor ...more
Dec 17, 2011 Chana rated it did not like it
I am not a fan of short stories in general but this book was worse than I expected it might be. Almost every story had no ending, most contained adultery, and many contained violence. I usually like books in dialect but this was annoying with all the "whas" and dropped "g"s. Every page shouted "I'm black!" "I'm the black experience!" "I'm black and this is Washington D.C., and did I mention? I'm black!"
As far as the endings of the stories, the endings were so random that I felt like he just sto
Dec 30, 2007 Shek rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I thought I was going to love this, having read and much enjoyed one of the stories already. But it is really, really spotty. Jones tells a story in a way that includes hordes of tertiary characters and sometimes spans many years. Sometimes this works, and sometimes this is a mess. About a quarter of the stories are seriously engrossing, about a quarter are 30 to 40 page slogs, and the rest are pretty mediocre. Talking to other folks who've read it, some agree with me in principle, but have oppo ...more
Roxane Beth Johnson
Jan 18, 2008 Roxane Beth Johnson rated it it was amazing
These stories are perfect. That's all I can say. "The Devil Swims Across the Anacosta" blew my mind and rendered me helplessly amazed. Not kidding or exaggerating. I read it with lips ajar, in much the way I imagine all those boys out there read "Lolita" (hate that book, love everything else by Nabokov though and have read much of it. How come no one gets as excited by his book King, Queen, Knave? or Pnin? There's a masterpiece.). Didn't read every single story. I want to save something for late ...more
Nov 22, 2010 Jean rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I loved this book of short stories. Although there were fourteen stories, they were not cookie cutter stories. It definitely did not feel like you were reading the same story over and over as some short story compilations do. Not only were the main characters strong but the secondary characters were given meaningful roles also. A couple of these stories have stuck with me. I think this is the first of Jones' writing that I have tried and I will definitely try other of his works.
I want to go ahead and review this so I can post it, even though I'm not done--and won't be for awhile.

I just don't like this collection of stories very much. I feel bad about this, because it has gotten rave reviews and won awards, but it just doesn't appeal to me.

I got through 5 and 1/2 of the 14 stories, and of those, the one I've only read half of is the one I liked the best (it was just so depressing that I didn't finish it). ALL of the stories have been depressing, and in most of them, I d
Aug 11, 2008 Rosana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008, short-stories
I finished reading All Aunt’s Hagar Children a few days ago and had to come back to write a little blurb about it because those stories are still lingering around me. Of course, as in any collection of stories, 3 or 4 make a bigger impact then the rest, however I was quite surprised of how even this selection is overall. Not a small task in a book with 14 stories.

Those are complex stories, with a multitude of secondary characters – neighbors, relatives, ancestors – showing up and furnishing the
The stories collected here offer a portrait of our nation's capital through the eyes and experiences of a varied group of African Americans who call it home. Jones offers up different types: doctors, retired civil servants, schoolchildren but also women-beaters, drug-users, and other ne'er-do-wells. He fleshes out the life of the city through the tales of these citizens creating a richly layered construction of reasonable verisimilitude, with a few dashes of the magical but for me something was ...more
I have been wanting to read this book for years. I purchased a copy and it sat on my bookshelf because I was waiting for the *right* time to read it. And because I had not read Jones' two previous works (I have a thing about reading an author's work in order of their publication), I had put it off.

But finally after reading excerpts of a few of the stories online, and despite not having read the other works, I plunged into this collection. From the beginning, I found the collection to be magical.
Michael Anson
May 24, 2012 Michael Anson rated it it was amazing
I don't read too many collections of short stories, but Edward Jones, winner of the Pulitzer for his novel, "The Known World," is a master storyteller. Hagar is a biblical figure. She was the slave of Sarah who was married to Abraham, and Sarah thought she was too old to have children so she sent Hagar to Abraham, and they had a child named Ishmael. Later, Sarah did have a child named Isaac, who was supposed to be the one sent to make Abraham the father of all nations. Ishmael was banished to th ...more
Jun 06, 2007 Sarah rated it did not like it
You might not hate this book, so give it a chance. I read about half of it in November or so, returned it to the library, and checked it out again because I don't like leaving things unfinished. Maybe if I was familiar with DC, the way the Jones describes the surroundings by saying things like "K street between 13th and 14th" or whatever instead of telling us "there's a gas station on the corner, and the rest of the block is row houses" wouldn't bother me so much because I'd already have a menta ...more
Matthew Gallaway
Jun 09, 2011 Matthew Gallaway rated it it was amazing
This collection of stories deals with many of the same themes as Jones' other collection -- namely the African-American experience as it unfolds in and around Washington, D.C. I found the prose of this collection to be denser and infused with more symbolism (some biblical, as the title suggests) and at times, magical elements, in comparison to Lost in the City. I would definitely recommend it as much as Lost in the City, but I think it would be smart to read this one after you've been introduced ...more
Feb 16, 2013 Phillis rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Phillis by: No one
Edward P. Jones is a new author to me and I picked this audiobook up because I wanted a change of pace from mysteries. Short stories I thought would do the trick and I do enjoy Peter Francis James' voice. Well out of 13 disks I made it to the 9th before I got terribly bored. The first couple of stores held my attention but then they began to sound as it the short stories could have been just one long story. It seemed repetitious. Grant it they were different families, different make-up of the fa ...more
Mar 08, 2010 Anna rated it it was amazing
Jones has a way of making history a part of the present; these short stories are dense, and each story seems to tell many stories besides the one which is its focus. I'm not sure I'm doing a good job of getting across the feel of these stories: they each seem to have such a weight to them; all of his characters carry not only their present moments, but their pasts and their possible futures around with them, and Jones makes the reader feel this. For the most part, these stories are centered arou ...more
Aug 03, 2010 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Edward P. Jones is an amazing writer. In a short space, he creates and shows us a universe. This book of 14 stories gets better and better (and I'm only on pg 149). That it is set in Washington, D.C. gives it a local interest. *** Just finished this morning. I admire how the last story Tapestry swings around to both the first story and the dedication to "to the multitudes who came up out of the South for something better, something different". But then there is much I admire in each of these sto ...more
Sep 27, 2008 Alyssa rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Jones is very romantical and captures the warmth of community from early 1900's through recent-day D.C. I strongly prefer this collection over Lost in the City, because the stories that I didn't want to stop reading far outnumbered the ho-hums, while I feel the opposite is true for his first collection of short stories. There's a lot of love pouring from the author to the precious, flawed, dimensional black boys and girls in a city that knows and shapes them. My favorite stories were Rich Man, I ...more
Jul 17, 2014 Kyle rated it it was amazing
To read "All Aunt Hagar's Children" is to be reminded of the beauty that the English language can evoke when in the hands of a master. This collection of stories is luminous and heartfelt, with richly drawn characters who only want to do the best they can (even if some of them aren't exactly model citizens). The humanity in these stores is nothing short of honest and true and genuine, and rewards all readers with the breadth of the universes these stories contain.
Sep 20, 2009 Venus rated it did not like it
I got halfway through this book before realizing that I had already read it. The short stories are choppy and most do not have a resolution. The theme throughout all are obvious but Jones did not do a good job of making it a cohesive book.
Oct 19, 2008 Judy rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I put this book down a few weeks ago and haven't picked it up again, so am now taking it back to the library. For some reason I find the stories confusing - they seem to have so many characters and so much happening, almost like mini-novels, and I find it hard to take it all in.
Kasa Cotugno
Such a rich tapestry of story telling, mostly about members of the generation of those of the great migration who settle in Washington DC. Beautifully written, some quite haunting. Took a while since each story should be savored.
Michael Fischer
May 06, 2012 Michael Fischer rated it it was amazing
Devastating. Beautiful. Rich, dense, complex stories. Best read after "Lost in The City," since many of the characters introduced in Jones's first collection reappear, like a story-cycle sequel.
Sidik Fofana
Sep 14, 2016 Sidik Fofana rated it it was amazing
SIX WORD REVIEW: Simply virtuosic. Black guru of detail.
Aug 26, 2007 Matt rated it really liked it
The stories I've read thus far are brilliant: "Bad Neighbors," "Adam Robinson" and the title story. You can read a lot of his stuff in the New Yorker archives... He's worth it.
Jun 28, 2012 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haven't finished, but I am liking it very much.
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Edward P. Jones has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Lannan Literary Award for The Known World. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2004, and his first collection of short stories, Lost in the City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was short-listed for the National Book Award. His most recent collection, All Aun ...more
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