Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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9781644211038

The highly anticipated new novel from the winner of the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize examines NYC and America in the burgeoning moments before the start of the civil war through the eyes of a young mixed-race girl.

"Rarely does one encounter a book that can so profoundly change a reader. Moon and the Mars is that book. Corthron, a true heir to James Baldwin, presents a startlingly original exposure of the complex roots of American racism and classism as well as a sweeping exploration of love in all its myriad forms. The best work of fiction I have read in many years."
—Naomi Wallace, MacArthur "Genius" Playwriting Fellow and author of One Flea Spare

Set in the Five Points neighborhood of New York City in the years 1857-1863, when America's attitudes towards people of color and slavery shifted—painfully, transformationally—to the point where a war that began to restore the union becomes one that owes much to black fighting regiments, and common cause grows for the abolition of slavery. We experience the daily life of Five Points through the eyes of Theo, aged 7 at the start of the book and 13 at its close. Theo is half Black and half Irish, an orphan living between the homes of her Black and Irish grandparents. Through her eyes we see everything from P.T. Barnum's circus to the Draft Riots that tore NYC asunder, and the daily maelstrom of work and camaraderie and hardship necessary just to survive in Five Points.

Corthron's first novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, won the coveted First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction in 2016. It was championed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, Robin D.G. Kelley and Angela Y. Davis, among many others, and received rave reviews in The New York Times Book Review, where it was an Editor's Choice, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.

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9781644211038

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“Kia Corthron has a knack for seeing what we cannot, for laying bare the truths we refuse to see. Moon and the Mars, her latest masterpiece, is an absorbing story of family and community, of Africans and Irish, of settler and native, of slavery and abolition, of a city and a nation wracked by Civil War and racist violence, of love won and lost. Unsettling the victim-perpetrator binary, she writes instead of people caught in the whirlwind of history, violence, politics, ideology, love, and desire; people navigating the actual world where race lines are drawn in shifting sands in blood and glue, elusive yet enduring, smelling of death and flowers. Corthron once again reminds us that nothing is black and white.”

“A searing, far-flung epic, a truly American tale, centered on one girl of African-American and Irish heritage, as she makes her way into a world rife with brutality, change and war. Kia Corthron is one of our finest novelists, constantly unveiling the truth and the way histories have been hidden from us, revealing people in all their glory and imperfection. This isn't just a novel. It is a history, a monument to hope.”

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The author of more than fifteen plays produced nationally and internationally, Kia Corthron came to national attention in the early nineties with her play Come Down Burning. Portraying characters who live in extreme poverty or crisis and whose lives are otherwise invisible, her plays paint a disturbing picture of American history and its repercussions on our most intimate relationships. Corthron's most recent awards include a Windham Campbell Prize for Drama, the Simon Great Plains Playwright (Honored Playwright) Award, the USA Jane Addams Fellowship Award, and the Lee Reynolds Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women, and she has developed work through various international residencies. She has also written for television, receiving a Writers Guild Outstanding Drama Series Award and an Edgar Award for The Wire. She grew up in Cumberland, Maryland, and now lives in Harlem, New York City.