The Celestial Jukebox

A Novel by Cynthia Shearer

"Shearer has created nothing less than a gem in this tale of intertwining destinies."—Booklist


"Nothing less than a gem."

"Perceptive and elegantly written."
Kirkus Reviews

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Set in the invented Mississippi Delta town of Madagascar, Cynthia Shearer's The Celestial Jukebox depicts a rural South dependent on agribusiness and the fruits of some less attractive forms of capitalism—gambling and other vices. Into this world comes Boubacar, a fifteen-year-old African boy joining friends from Mauritania already living in the area. They are new African blacks not especially noteworthy in a town filled with Chinese emigrants, African Americans within memory of slavery, and straggling members of the original white families of the area. Presiding over Madagascar is Angus, the second-generation Delta Chinese proprietor of the Celestial Grocery, and his vintage jukebox with its treasure of Slim Harpo, Sam Cooke, and Wanda Jackson songs.

The ties that bind the lives in this community together are American roots music and the desire to make a home in the rural South. The purity and beauty of Cynthia Shearer's writing—like the purity of music that exists within this story, an imagined soundtrack of more than thirty songs&38212;marks The Celestial Jukebox as that most rare book, a novel as historically expansive as it is intimate, filled with music, wisdom, and spontaneous joy.

Page count: 456 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $24.95

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Cynthia Shearer is the former curator of Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner, and holds a M.A. in English from the University of Mississippi. She has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her first novel, The Wonder Book of the Air, received the 1996 prize for fiction from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.