The University of Wisconsin Press

Fiction / Women's Studies / Florida / American Studies


Hearing by Jael
Joyce Elbrecht and Lydia Fakundiny

Library of American Fiction, Terrace Books

"Innovative and experimental in all of the best ways. At the heart of this lush labyrinthine novel are a series of mysteries . . .undulating through coil after coil of concentric circles, drawing readers in, asking them to become part of the story by hearing (and re-hearing) it. An exciting and beautifully rendered novel."—Andrea A. Lunsford, coauthor of Singular Texts/Plural Authors: Perspectives on Collaborative Writing

In l993 the narrator Jael B. Juba goes south to revisit historic Tarragona, Florida, where her friend and mentor, Elizabeth Harding Dumot, had restored an ante-bellum home fifteen years earlier and released the wild energies of legend and contemporary social conflict before getting out of town, her work done. Jael's mission, also one of restoration, is to return a long-hidden diary (discovered by Harding in her work on the house) to its original site, a secret room about to be opened to the public for the first time. Here, the diarist Frances Boullet and her intimates once kept a vodun sanctuary for celebrating their multiracial heritage, burying their dead, resisting the terror of the conquest of the Americas, and pondering the knowledge they draw from their variously Creolized pasts. Through the sanctuary, the diary, and the novel flow tales of colonization; trading and piracy; slave life on a plantation in North Florida; an Indian bride's miraculous legacy from the time of the Seminole Wars; Haitian uprisings and intra-American conflict; and murders, births, and hauntings in Reconstruction times and after. These tales, framed by Jael's and Harding's, stretch into a revisionary history that is joyously plural. The personal concerns of Jael B. Juba, herself at the crossroads of middle-age choices about how and where to position herself, become immersed in the wash of diary stories. A visceral love of the diary, engendered by the book's touch and feel, motivates her every move around the paratextual space of life created by reading.

"This comedy of lost causes fortuitously recovered, peoples joined, and houses fallen and passionately recovered poses a challenge to the South's familiar story of patriarchy lamed in its descendants by blood guilt and racial conflict. Hearing is a book about terror and ruin that is, curiously, never far from festival at any point."—Stuart Davis, Cornell University

"An extraordinary work of fiction, told with a rare combination of ripe humor and intellectual acuity."—Holly A. Laird, author of Women Coauthors

"As a writer, I especially relished the questions Hearing raises about narrative truth and the processes involved in the construction of meaning in today's mediated reality. This novel is rich in insights that speak directly to our time-through the minds and hearts of its characters we come to see our times and ourselves differently."—Nancy Venable Raine, author of After Silence

Joyce Elbrecht and Lydia Fakundiny, whose collaborative persona is Jael B. Juba, live and work in Ithaca, New York. Their first coauthored novel was The Restorationist.

The Terrace Books logo is designed in the shape of a book with a Union chair in silhouette on the cover. The words Terrace Books, Madison, Wisconsin appear also.

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There is a press kit for Hearing with additional information, and downloadable images of the book to use in publicity.

the cover of Hearing by Jael is black, with a cross section of a seashell in white and the words "by Jael" in red

January 2006
350 pp.  6 x 9
Cloth ISBN 978-0-299-21300-8

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