Free Men: Book summary and reviews of Free Men by Katy Simpson Smith

Free Men by Katy Simpson Smith X
Free Men by Katy Simpson Smith
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Book Summary

A captivating novel, set in the late eighteenth-century American South, that follows a singular group of companions - an escaped slave, a white orphan, and a Creek Indian - who are being tracked down for murder.

In 1788, three men converge in the southern woods of what is now Alabama. Cat, an emotionally scarred white man from South Carolina, is on the run after abandoning his home. Bob is a talkative black man fleeing slavery on a Pensacola sugar plantation, Istillicha, edged out of his Creek town's leadership, is bound by honor to seek retribution.

In the few days they spend together, the makeshift trio commits a shocking murder that soon has the forces of the law bearing down upon them. Sent to pick up their trail, a probing French tracker named Le Clerc must decide which has a greater claim: swift justice, or his own curiosity about how three such disparate, desperate men could act in unison.

Katy Simpson Smith skillfully brings into focus men whose lives are both catastrophic and full of hope - and illuminates the lives of the women they left behind. Far from being anomalies, Cat, Bob, and Istillicha are the beating heart of the new America that Le Clerc struggles to comprehend. In these territories caught between European, American, and Native nations, a wilderness exists where four men grapple with the importance of family, the stain of guilt, and the competing forces of power, love, race, and freedom - questions that continue to haunt us today.

This book is published by an imprint of HarperCollins. Members of the HC union have been on strike since mid-Nov, fighting for a living wage. More than 650 authors and literary agents have committed to not submitting books to the company until the strike is resolved. Recent news articles
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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Like Smith's debut, The Story of Land and Sea, this novel evokes the complexity of a fledgling America in precise, poetic language. Though likely too slow-paced for some readers, it is rich with insights about history and the human heart." - Publishers Weekly
"An uncommon story of three men on the run as well as a complex tale about freedom of the individual and justice in society. There's much to ponder after reading the last page." - Library Journal

"Though beautifully researched and written, this run for freedom is slowed by too many campfire stories." - Kirkus

"Katy Simpson Smith's Free Men channels a world radically different and utterly similar to our own, and renders viscerally that quintessential American impulse to get yourself a new life." - Jim Shepard, author of The Book of Aron

"I was immediately seduced by the quality of the prose, its meditative tone and haunting imagery - a poet's imagery, thrilling in its uncanny detail - and richness. This is a deep, pondered world, a pleasure to experience and behold." - Amanda Coplin, New York Times bestselling author of The Orchardist

"Katy Smith made an auspicious entrance with The Story of Land and Sea. Now, in Free Men, she confirms her status as a truly distinctive and lyrical voice and in my judgment, the most sophisticated historical novelist of her generation. - Joseph J. Ellis, author most recently of The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789

"This is literature at its finest: a novel about another time that - rather than alienate - instead clarifies and brings into view our own time…this is a story about flawed but earnest men and the flawed but earnest women left behind." - Hannah Pittard, author of The Fates Will Find Their Way

This information about Free Men was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Katy Simpson Smith Author Biography

Photo: Elise Smith

Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835, and the novels The Story of Land and Sea and Free Men. Her writing has also appeared in The Oxford American, Granta, Literary Hub, Garden & Gun, Catapult, and Lenny. She lives in New Orleans, and currently serves as the Eudora Welty Chair for Southern Literature at Millsaps College.

Link to Katy Simpson Smith's Website

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