HOUSE OF TWELVE FINGERS de Lauren Francis-Sharma

From the acclaimed author of Book of the Little Axe, HOUSE OF TWELVE FINGERS is the harrowing story of a young Black girl’s genius and resilience in the face of a world that would render her invisible.

by Lauren Francis-Sharma
Atlantic Monthly Press, May 2023

Lauren Francis-Sharma’s debut novel ‘Til the Well Runs Dry was short-listed for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and her second novel, Book of the Little Axe was praised as a “masterly epic” (Publishers Weekly) that spanned generations and continents. Now, she returns with HOUSE OF TWELVE FINGERS, a moving, richly imagined story of one family’s Great Migration and the foundations of Black Baltimore.
In 1904, the day the Great Baltimore Fire decimated the burgeoning city, William and Phyllis Battle welcome the arrival of their first child outside a whites-only hospital. The couple are recent arrivals in Baltimore, struggling to build for themselves the life they dreamed about down South. Phyllis, born with six fingers on each hand, has always been regarded with some suspicion by her community, but whether this suspicion is warranted or she’s simply misunderstood remains to be seen. Meanwhile, her daughter Margaret is coming of age, and demonstrates a keen intellect and photographic memory from a young age, but has never spoken a word. After William is injured in an industrial accident, Phyllis makes ends meet by teaching Margaret to use her extraordinary memory to count cards. However, the girl catches the eye of some unscrupulous characters who populate the gaming halls and dark alleyways of the city. And one day Margaret does not come home.
Set in the spring and Red Summer of 1919, a year whose racial terror incidents are now infamous, HOUSE OF TWELVE FINGERS is an evocative, suspenseful, and tenderly wrought story of an unforgettable family’s bitter fight to carve out a life on their own terms.

Lauren Francis-Sharma is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel ‘Til The Well Runs Dry, which was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize. She resides near Washington, DC with her husband and two children. She is the Assistant Director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

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