The Personal History of Rachel Dupree
By Ann Weisgarber
(Pan Books, Paperback, 9780330458559, 304pp.)
Publication Date: April 2009
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Short-listed for the Orange Award for New Writers
Long-listed for the Orange Prize
Winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Debut Novel Prize
It is 1917 in the South Dakota Badlands, and summer has been hard. Fourteen years have passed since Rachel and Isaac DuPree left Chicago to stake a claim in this unforgiving land. Isaac, a former Buffalo Soldier, is fiercely proud: black families are rare in the West, and black ranchers even rarer.
But it hasn't rained in months, the cattle bellow with thirst, and supplies are dwindling. Pregnant, and struggling to feed her family, Rachel is isolated by more than just geography. She is determined to give her surviving children the life they deserve, but she knows that her husband will never leave his ranch: land means a measure of equality with the white man, and Isaac DuPree is not about to give it up just because times are hard. Somehow Rachel must find the strength to do what is right - for her children, for her husband, and for herself.
Moving and majestic, "The Personal History of Rachel DuPree" is an unforgettable novel about love and loyalty, homeland and belonging. Above all, it is the story of one woman's courage in the face of the most punishing adversity.
Host Robert Smith talks with Ann Weisgarber about her debut novel, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree. It's set in the Badlands of South Dakota in the early 20th century and follows the fortunes of Rachel DuPree -- an African American homesteader -- and her growing family. More at NPR.org
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