Edward Jones‘ THE KNOWN WORLD won a whole bunch of prizes when the novel was published some years back, and for good reason – it was brilliant. So no wonder he and his new collection of stories, ALL AUNT HAGAR’S CHILDREN, is getting rapturous review attention and print media shoutouts from the New York Times, where William Hamilton looks into the semi-reclusive author’s relationship to his native Washington, DC, depicting African-Americans through the ages and his writing ethos, which is heavily dosed with realism.
“When people come to you, characters, and they’re doing or saying something, it’s almost always a particular place that I have to situate them,” Jones said. “I don’t want to create some sort of imaginary street in Washington, because that’s not the world that I knew.” What he did know was a small space that housed his mother and his sister together with him for many years until finally, he moved out in 2004 to a Gothic revival apartment complex on Embassy Row. It’s not about living the rich life, but having comfort. “Because of all the stuff we went through when I was a kid,” he said, mildly hissing the word ‘stuff,’ “I don’t ever want to eat another cabbage sandwich.”