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

The Prophets

4.55  ·  Rating details ·  62 ratings  ·  29 reviews
A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.

Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, bu
Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: January 5th 2021 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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 Prophets, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Robert Jr. Thank you for your question. There are a few scenes of r*pe or sexual assault of varying levels of detail. Discretion is advised, particularly for sur…moreThank you for your question. There are a few scenes of r*pe or sexual assault of varying levels of detail. Discretion is advised, particularly for survivors. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  62 ratings  ·  29 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Prophets
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m not intelligent enough to adequately or eloquently convey how remarkable this debut novel is. Two gay teenagers enslaved on a brutal deep south plantation find joy and love with each other. They are betrayed by another slave. Sounds straightforward enough but this novel is so much more.

The novel examines the effect of the teens’ relationship on the other characters as well as portraying the exhausting drudgery of enslavement. The slaves’ heartless and inhumane treatment is appalling. Noneth
fulfilling book riot's 2020 read harder challenge task #11: Read a debut novel by a queer author

review to come!
This debut novel is part historical fiction, part literary fiction, immersed within a majestic slave plantation. Isaac and Samuel are lovers, sneaking tender and playful moments, desperately avoiding the backlash of their violent master. This is a tale of men, women, and children, struggling to survive, risking everything for family, love, and freedom. For those who enjoyed The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.
Marieke du Pré
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A MUST READ!!! Thought provoking and heartbreaking, a beautiful Black queer story. Believe me, this is probably one of the most powerful books of 2021 and it’s not even 2021 yet. I’m just saying ...

This story is about tough and fierce Samuel who is willing to die in order to survive and talkative and cheerful Isaiah who just wants to live. Both teen slaves on a Mississippi plantation finding refuge and love in each other. Until an older slave starts to turn the other slaves against the boys.

Michael Livingston
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful and tragic story that's about the crushing inhumanity of slavery and - fundamentally - about love. The lyricism was occasionally too much for me, and I found the jumps back in time a distraction from the brilliant characters in the main story. Still: the writing is glorious, the characters stunning and the emotional hits don't miss. It's an incredibly powerful and moving book.
Carole V Bell
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Review to come in the January issue of BookPage. In the meantime, this is one of my favorite parts of a heartbreaking but thoroughly beautiful book.

“They thought we was something dirty, but it won’t nothing like that at all. It was easy, really. He the only one who understand me without me saying a word. Can tell what I thinking just by where I looking—or not looking. So when he took my hand . . . the first time anybody or anything ever touch me so, everything in my head wanna say naw, but noth
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a masterpiece!

A debut novel that is astonishing in its depth and filled with soul! The writing is poetic, characters strong and all aspects of this incredibly emotional journey resonate as authentic. It is so difficult to explain the beauty that resides in this novel.

I was incredibly lucky not to know anything about this story before I started reading it and so, for me, this reading journey unfolded with such intensity. Yes! There are graphic scenes, brutality, cruelty and hardships tha
Peter Lyon
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
*This review will not even come close to adequately describing this novel*
A transcendent debut from Robert Jones Jr. whose story telling and lyricsm is breathtaking. The story is set on a Mississippi plantation (called "Empty" by those enslaved there) along the banks of the Yazoo River but its reach extends across time and space with each chapter exploring the lives and minds of Empty's enslaved and those who uphold its violent systems. At the story's core is the duo of Samuel and Isaiah who ha
Roman Clodia
This is a powerful novel that revisits the sickening horrors of US slavery but it's also a book that I felt ill-equipped to read since so much of it depends on biblical intertexts, from names to chapter headings - without having that biblical knowledge, I felt that some of the significance was being lost on me.

The language is dynamic, mingling dialects with a biblical formality as voices emerge then are submerged again. There's a sense of community, of factions and breakdowns that supersede the
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Will update with a full review.
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. is an excellent novel that is part general fiction part historical fiction part literary masterpiece.

This novel is set mainly within and around a plantation in the Deep South. We see the inner relations, workings, and community within this environment. This is also the story of two enslaved men: Samuel and Isaiah. What we are privy to is just stunning.

What I loved about this book:

1. The literary descriptions of the landscape, locations, and culture was just b
Apr 09, 2020 marked it as to-read
I anticipate this to be one of the most acclaimed books of 2021. Thank you to Putnam for the ARC!
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'll start with the cover of this remarkable debut novel. Its design is on trend, for sure, but it's also perfect for The Prophets, a book that will transcend trend. Look at the silhouettes and the layers and the shades of color. The silhouetted faces indicate bodies down, prone and separated, yet the faces ascend, as if forming the foundations of mountains, and they look up. Robert Jones Jr. has written novel as testimony, with its central question: Did Black queer people exist in the past? Of ...more
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the best book I’ve ever read.
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A MUST Read!! This book is one you must read at least once in your life time, it will stay with you and come back to you in quiet moments to move you and shape you like American Dirt, Where the Crawdads Sing and Betty.
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am at a loss for words. How can words even begin to describe the breathtaking language in the story that Robert Jones Jr. has gifted us with his debut novel, The Prophets? How can I begin to explain how he achieves a feat so marvelous, it almost seems impossible? Well, that's the key word: almost. From his innovative restructuring of the Bible through the lens of America's history with slavery to characters that leap off the page with colorful grace and dignity, Robert Jones Jr. masterfully we ...more
Deanna Bailey
Samuel and Isiah are two slaves who find refuge and love with each other. Their love is disrupted due to an older slave gaining prestige with their master, and sees their relationship as sinful. This was a beautiful and powerful story about love, power, magic, and betrayal. For fans of the writings of Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead The Underground Railroad, this is a must read for 2021!
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Engrossing, vivid writing with a propulsive plot that really picks up steam. Jones Jr is a masterful writer. This story will move you; it will shake you awake if you are not already there.

This is one that I finished in a snap but have been thinking about all day. You’ll see what I mean.

(digital arc via edelweiss)
Kate Southey
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To put it simply there just aren’t superlatives enough to do this book justice. What a novel. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year and it is book #123 so far which shows you how good this book is.
I consider myself well read, literate, familiar with history, the bible and various languages and dialects but this book showed me that I am a grain of salt on the back of an elephant. So many times I had to read and reread passages to make sure I’d understood them fully and got every
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have not been able to stop talking about this book. THE PROPHETS is simply stunning - the characterizations, the dialog, what Jones is able to say and do with his -prose-, the level of emotion that this book stirred in me - everything is just... wow.

THE PROPHETS brought me to tears in so many ways and I so appreciate each and every one. It does get a little descriptive with scenes of assault and r*pe, so this is a heads-up. It is a good book - not an easy one to read (and nor should it be, co
Marianne C
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book meant to be read more than once...
Thank you, Robert Jones, for sharing your brilliant story-telling in a skillfully woven and written tale. Back in June, I helped form a racial justice task force at our church. Over the past many months, I have read books and articles, listened to podcasts and watched movies related to race and race relations. I will add this amazing novel to the list that I will recommend to others. Its many layers unravel through chapters named for biblical book
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Wow. This debut blew me away. Fabulously meta story telling, characters with lots of layer and depth. And writing that is lyrical.
Conner Horak
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Robert Jones Jr. debut novel The Prophets is a force to be reckoned with; it's a force of nature. It's a wave cresting with unimaginable sorrow, cries of voices past, and above all, love. Samuel and Isaiah are two male slaves in a deep-south antebellum plantation whose romantic union, pure as it is, comes under threat from a fellow slave recently converted to the faith of the white man. It does what few (if any!) novels have done before: examine the intersection of enslavement and queer-hood thr ...more
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Difficult subjects, beautifully told. I have little doubt this will be one of the most praised books of 2021. Some truths don’t change. Listen: “So Ruth cried and Maggie learned right then and there that a toubab woman’s tears were the most potent of potions; they could wear down stone and make people of all colors clumsy, giddy, senseless, soft. What, then, was the point of asking, So why didn’t you tell the truth?”
Highly recommend.
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful, amazing book. The lyrical writing was so captivating and brought you straight into the story. All of the characters were beautifully written and the different points of view brought each person to life. The ending was heartbreaking.

I would fully recommend this book to anyone. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for a review.
Emily Friel
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced reader copy of this book and let me just say it blew me away. It is one of those books that you'll be thinking about for days or weeks after you finish reading it. It's powerful and important and I truly believe that it is a classic in the making. I highly highly recommend this book to everyone, it's beautifully written and so very important.
Sean Kennedy
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book, and no words can do it justice. It’s a masterpiece: half prose, half poetry. Heartbreaking. Full of love. A call to arms. In short, extraordinary. I can’t recommend it enough.
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a difficult book for me in several ways. Firstly, the experience of slaves in the South is so far removed from my own experience that it’s a stretch for me to visualize and identify with the characters. It’s enlightening for me to be exposed to this piece of American history, but it’s a stretch nonetheless. Secondly, the story is difficult to absorb because the characters experience so much pain. It’s disturbing to witness the torture and indignities inflicted by one human being upon an ...more
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful read
rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2020
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Low, Low Woods
  • What Are You Going Through
  • The Vanishing Half
  • Plain Bad Heroines
  • Memorial
  • Home Before Dark
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
  • Betty
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
  • The Push
  • The Great Offshore Grounds
  • The Wife Upstairs
  • Earthlings
  • Privilege
  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot
  • You Deserve Each Other
  • Enter the Aardvark
  • Jack
See similar books…
Robert Jones, Jr., was born and raised in New York City. He received his B.F.A. in creative writing and M.F.A. in fiction from Brooklyn College. He has written for numerous publications, including THE NEW YORK TIMES, ESSENCE, and THE PARIS REVIEW. He is the creator of the social justice social media community Son of Baldwin. Jones was recently featured in T MAGAZINE's cover story, “Black Male Writ ...more

Related Articles

This June, as we observe LGBTQ Pride—the annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning communities—we...
198 likes · 73 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »