Take One Candle Light a Room
By Susan Straight
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780307379146, 336pp.)
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
List Price: $25.95*
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From the author of A Million Nightingales (“a writer of exceptional gifts and grace”—Joyce Carol Oates) comes a luminous new novel about the forces that tear families apart and the ties that bind them together.
Fantine Antoine is a travel writer, a profession that keeps her happily away from her Southern California home. When she returns to mark the fifth anniversary of the murder of her closest childhood friend, Glorette, she finds herself pulled into the tumultuous life of Glorette’s twenty-two-year-old son—and Fantine’s godson—Victor. After getting involved in a shooting, Victor has fled to New Orleans. Together with her father, Fantine follows Victor, determined to help him avoid the criminal future that he suddenly seems destined for.
Fantine’s own fate will be altered on this journey as well: her father will reveal the wrenching secrets of his past, and she will be compelled to question the most essential choices she’s made in her life. As they cross from California to the heart of Louisiana, all three characters will come face-to-face with the issues of race that beset them: Fantine, whose light skin has allowed her a kind of invisibility; her father, who grew up in the Jim Crow South and has tried to guard his family against that world; and Victor, whose fall into violence mirrors the path of so many other young black men. For Fantine, finding Victor could offer them both a way to face the past and decide between different futures.
Powerful and moving, Take One Candle Light a Room illuminates the intricacies of human connection and the ways in which we find a place for ourselves within our families and the world.
Susan Straight is the author of six novels, including A Million Nightingales and the National Book Award finalist Highwire Moon. She has written for The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s Magazine, and NPR’s All Things Considered. Her short stories have won an Edgar Award and an O. Henry Award. She teaches at the University of California, Riverside.
Fantine's light skin gets her mistaken for Algerian, Samoan and Hawaiian. It's her ticket to an independent jet-setting life. But when her godson gets in trouble, she's forced to go home. Host Michel Martin discusses Take One Candle Light A Room with author Susan Straight. More at NPR.org
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