Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter” as Want to Read:
The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  309 ratings  ·  84 reviews
The hotly anticipated first novel by lauded playwright and The Wire TV writer Kia Corthron, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter sweeps American history from 1941 to the twenty-first century through the lives of four men--two white brothers from rural Alabama, and two black brothers from small-town Maryland--whose journey culminates in an explosive and devastating encounter ...more
Hardcover, 800 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Seven Stories Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Susan Zinner I don't think it got much publicity? I read an author's profile in the NYT and the author was asked which book he was recommending which may have been…moreI don't think it got much publicity? I read an author's profile in the NYT and the author was asked which book he was recommending which may have been overlooked recently and he suggested this one. I can't believe how outstanding this was! Have been recommending it to everyone I know! (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  309 ratings  ·  84 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Kara Corthron
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: the author is my sister. For that reason I've hesitated to say anything here. But screw that. CASTLE is a gorgeous, sweeping, harrowing, and moving journey through a half century of American history. From the perspectives of the Evans and Campbell brothers, we watch the ever-present legacy of human bondage take its toll on a society that refuses to deal with it. There's also plenty of humor, too, as there always is in life. Get the book, settle in, and take the journey.
Rene Denfeld
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can't believe I haven't written a review of this novel yet. It should have won the Pulitzer. It's that good. This is truly one of the best books I've ever read. The story is sweeping and yet intimate, the dialogue sings off the page (only a playwright could write dialogue this perfect), the characters fully realized. It's full of history and insight. I want everyone to read it.
Booknblues
I am thrilled when I discover a new author with great potential and Kia Corthron is such an author. Corthron is new in the sense that she has written her first novel, but at 54 and an experienced playwright she isn't a novice. The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter: A Novel is a powerful book about race relations, family relationships, betrayal, grace and redemption. I loved it and I hated it and it left me bereft.

The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter follows the lives of two sets of brothers, one whit
...more
Brown Girl Reading
Jun 09, 2019 marked it as to-read
Sadly I had to DNF this one. I got to page 300 and I just couldn't bear to have to reread anymore passages with out quotation marks for dialogues. I felt like this book was going to put me into a reading slump. The author has an inconsistent way of writing in dialect, changes topic abruptly - every two lines or paragraph, and no quotes makes it very difficult to figure out what the characters are saying and thinking. This book was missing some serious editing because it's 789 pages and I felt li ...more
Ehrrin
This book devastated me. I had to set it down several times to weep. Can I tell you that, and then convince you to read it right now, without waiting one more moment?

I read this as part of the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize shortlist. It's one of the best books I've ever read. It weaves together issues of race in the early civil rights era through the almost-present, issues around sexuality and ability. It gives a glimpse into deaf culture, and how various communication methods help t
...more
Mara
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Not a perfect novel, but so devastatingly powerful at its best moments that I can forgive it its flaws and give it the 5 star rating anyway. I hope this will be widely read and get the attention that Corthron's talent so fully deserves.
Maureen
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Oh this book. This book in the year of the best reading I have enjoyed in probably a decade. This book with its odd cover art and nonsensical title. This book that grabbed hold of my heart and took my breath away. This book that made me laugh, cry, cringe, and rejoice. This book that every reader who loves to read amazingly conceived stories with characters so full of life they inhabit your life on a cellular level, must, must read. This book that will stay with me forever.

I don't remember whic
...more
Tracy
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Powerful and emotionally draining. Corthron's characters represent a period of American history that is so devastatingly difficult to look at without flinching. These four brothers are more than a product of their environment, but they are part of the American fabric, a fabric tattered and worn and passed along from generation to generation. I could neither love or hate these characters, as that was not their function. They served as a mirror to the past and, unfortunately, the consequences the ...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
There was quite a bit that I liked about the 40% of this that I managed to get through, but what did me in was the tough, unrelenting slog of the vernacular prose, unrelieved by even a smidgeon of easy-to-read quote-unquote ‘standard English’ exposition or 3rd-person narration. So, in the end, just no.
Caroline
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's just a coincidence that I read this directly after the nonfiction Just Mercy, but they make a good pair -- Just Mercy's focus on racial injustice is just one of the compelling threads in the novel. At 800+ pages, it's definitely a commitment but it's a wonderful, devastating page-turner about brothers (two pairs: one white, one African-American); life in the South (from WW2 to almost the present day); Deaf culture; the justice system and its many failings; family history. It's not a perfect ...more
Julie
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Though this book is a commitment at over 800 pages and often times covering some horrific situations, I found myself dragging my feet to finish only because I never wanted this beautiful, tragic, complex and layered story to end. I am an avid and constant reader and would rate this in the top five books I've ever read. Kudos to this incredibly talented woman for such an achievement--I can't wait to see what she comes up with for a second book! I don't need to rehash the summary, but only want to ...more
Sue
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
It's a little early in the year to proclaim this my Best Novel of 2017, but I'm sure it would be a contender. I am stunned by this amazing almost-800-page novel. By the author's use of language. By her imagination. By the plot. By how real the people are. I really can't do justice to this book. I'll quote from a review:

Kia Corthron has written a magnificent, truly epic tale of the American Century told through the lives of two families, four brothers, three generations, big movements and small
...more
Katherine Varga
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This is the most AMERICAN novel I've read recently, possibly ever. (Sorry, Gatsby.) Race, family, childhood, Deaf culture, poverty, justice, sexuality, death, abuse, love, abortion, hope - this book covers so much. Although it's mostly set in the 20th century, this book says more about how someone like Trump could rise to power than most think pieces about "economic anxiety."

It's certainly not a breezy read, but there are moments of joy and humor if you stick with it. And the writing is SO good.
...more
Chloe
May 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I think Kia Corthron will write a great book...sadly, this isn't it. It's powerful but the flaws add up by the time you get to the end and the final coincidence was too much for me. Corthron got so much right though, and the parts that were good were utterly compelling. I look forward to reading what she writes in the future.
Kathleen Maher
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorite
The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter Add my praise and wonder to Kia Corthron’s sweeping first novel that begins in 1940 and ends in 2010. The story of two sets of brothers from whose perspective the personal history unfolds was spellbinding. Race plays a wrenching role here.

The first pair of brothers were white and lived in Alabama. The older one, B.J., was deaf and in the 1940s his opportunities were sorely limited. His younger brother, Randall, helped him to learn sign language and to read. As
...more
Barbara Rhine
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's probably too damned long, the tile is maddening, the author is stubborn in her determination to tell you EVERYTHING, and yet this book works like crazy. Not only does the reader experience the racial divide in America in no uncertain terms, but she also experiences the racial closeness. A anyhow, none of the characters--white or black--is just about race. There is love, both gay and straight. There are generations, reeling with the impact of ever-greater freedom, or at least mobility, the f ...more
Scott
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: current-fiction
Kia Corthron, in her first novel, has created a clear eyed, violent account of race, bigotry, poverty and hatred in America. These destructive forces overwhelm the goodness and promise that we see in the four men she documents. Randall and BJ are white brothers raised in rural Alabama, and Eliot and Dwight are black brothers raised in small town Baltimore. They are all impacted by racism, poverty and lost opportunity, but in very different ways and with tragic effect.

I loved the early chapters
...more
Sara
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
My rating is 5 stars for the beginning of the book, 2 or 3 for the last half or so, averaged up a bit for reasons unrelated to the book itself, perhaps. (That is, this was a nice hefty book to read during the presidential election and its aftermath.)

I thought the book was much stronger when written in first person. Mastering switches in narration is a hard job and either this book didn't do it right or I just wasn't feeling it. The 3rd person narration felt too bogged down in telling rather than
...more
Amy Warrick
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This novel is about brothers, race, and lynching.

The criticisms: It could use some paring down. There's LOTS of detail, LOADS of people, it gets wearisome at times.
The time jumps were a great way to advance the story but were occasionally difficult to catch up with. Like starting the novel over again. Probably user error.
Belabored the point a bit?
I could not read the pivotal violent scene near the end.
That the character's lives intertwined was clever, but the last coincidence strained cred
...more
Shelley Ettinger
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Superb. Magnificent. A soaring achievement. Searing and humane and deep. The first third is a tour de force of POV innovation, the middle third powerfully affecting, the final third absolutely shattering. The scope! The ambition! The power! Finest novel I've read in a long long time. A stunning contribution. An important book that should be read widely. For a longer commentary, see my blog Read Red: http://readwritered.blogspot.com/2016...
Heather
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Words fail me. A stupendous, amazing, bona fide great American novel. Why isn't everyone talking about this book? I will give you that the title is off-putting, the horribly violent act at the heart of the book is upsetting to read, the coincidence at the end not quite believable. But this book is remarkable for several reasons, and its greatest achievement is probably that we have empathy for the human being who perpetrates a villainous act of racial violence on a character we love.
Christina
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book during my lunch break, and my heart feels too soft and bruised to go back to work. I'm amazed at Cothron's skill in weaving together the strands of history and plot across so many years. I see some reviewers saying the book was a little long, but I didn't mind; I was happy to spend that much longer in such good company.
Andi Diehn
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Life changing. Learned more about race in America from this book than I did in 18 years of formal schooling. Should be required reading for humans.
Dagmar
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book -- it gets a bit long, but please stick it out, it's so worth it!!!! Ms. Corthron is a powerhouse of a writer....
K.C. Maher
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
[[ASIN:1609806573 The Castle Cross The Magnet Carter: A Novel]] Add my praise and wonder to Kia Corthron’s sweeping first novel that begins in 1940 and ends in 2010. The story of two sets of brothers from whose perspective the personal history unfolds was spellbinding. Race plays a wrenching role here.

The first pair of brothers were white and lived in Alabama. The older one, B.J., as deaf and in the 1940s his opportunities were sorely limited. His younger brother, Randall, helped him to learn si
...more
Christopher Rose
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan
At the center of this book are two pairs of brothers, boys too young to (or in one case, unable to) serve in WWII but who grow up to battle on the frontline of the enduring racial conflict in the United States. As children, each pair share bedrooms and secrets: in rural Alabama, intellectual Randall learns and teaches sign language to B.J., his deaf older brother; in Appalachian Maryland, six-year-old Eliot adopts a kitten and keeps his eyes opened to the world around him as his older brother, D ...more
Patty
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Beachg1rl53
Nov 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This novel had a slow start but it laid the groundwork for this complex story about two sets of brothers, one white one black. I enjoyed seeing the lives of these multi-dimensional characters from childhood to old age. The last 250 pages were riveting as the threads of the characters and their families comes together. It took a minute to get used to the author's style of writing. It felt like being inside the character's mind, blending dialogue and thoughts with out benefit of punctuation. After ...more
Bettina
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book, historical fiction at its best. The journeys of two sets of brothers, one black, one white, through their lives, family connections, racism, and the historical events that happen from the 1940s to about 2010, and their eventual intersection. I finished it last night and tremendously miss some of the characters. Not an easy read and absolutely heart breaking but then also uplifting, and so clever with some of the twists, don't want to spoil anything but want to point out tha ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The House of Erzulie
  • Rails Under My Back
  • The Cherokee Rose
  • The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World
  • The Judges of the Secret Court
  • Waiting for the Queen: A Novel of Early America
  • Beyond the Rice Fields
  • I'm Telling the Truth, but I'm Lying: Essays
  • Confessions
  • Letters to Memory
  • The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even
  • Dance of the Jakaranda
  • Thousand Star Hotel
  • Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race
  • How Does A Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?
  • Free Men
  • Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry
  • Cómo viajar sin ver
See similar books…