Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

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In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.

The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, "Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still."

About Hillary Jordan

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Hillary Jordan’s first novel, Mudbound, was the winner of the 2006 Bellwether Prize for fiction and an Alex Award from the American Library Association. It was named the NAIBA Fiction Book of the Year and one of the Top Ten Debut Novels of the Decade by Paste magazine. Jordan grew up in Dallas, Texas, and Muskogee, Oklahoma. She lives in New York City. Find her online at
Published March 4, 2008 by Algonquin Books. 353 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Mudbound

Kirkus Reviews

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Family bonds are twisted and broken in Jordan's meditation on the fallen South.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Mudbound

The Guardian

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The destinies of a white family - Henry and his thoughtful, city-bred wife Laura - and two black workers on their farm, Florence and Hap, are bound together when a perilous friendship develops between Henry's younger brother and Florence and Hap's son, both returning war heroes scarred by their ...

Oct 19 2008 | Read Full Review of Mudbound

The Guardian

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Hardship, mud and more mud ensue - Laura "dreamed in brown" - until two men are demobbed from military service: Jamie, Henry's charming, feckless brother, and Ronsel, the Jacksons' eldest son.

Oct 25 2008 | Read Full Review of Mudbound

BC Books

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A novel of racial injustice in the 1940s America, and a winner of the Bellwether Prize for social literature.

Aug 02 2008 | Read Full Review of Mudbound

BC Books

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Henry, Jamie, Laura, Florence, and Hap - the black tenant farmers on the McAllan farm - and Ronsel, their son.

Aug 02 2008 | Read Full Review of Mudbound


Memphis-raised Laura McAllan is plunged into an unfamiliar world after her husband buys a Mississippi delta farm in this compelling debut novel and 2006 Bellwether Prize winner.

Dec 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Mudbound


This gives her a front row seat as an observer of the tensions in the McAllan family, which are exaggerated when Jamie McAllan returns from the war to help his brother.

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When Florence, a midwife and lay healer, first meets Laura, she observes: “First time I laid eyes on Laura McAllan she was out of her head with mama worry.

Mar 10 2008 | Read Full Review of Mudbound

Gather Books

(The Bellwether Prize is the largest U.S. award for an unpublished manuscript, and and is the only prize specifically promoting literature of social change) Thanks to Algonquin Books fo Chapel Hill for looking for new talent- and in this case, definitely finding new talent.

Mar 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Mudbound

Bookmarks Magazine

If it’s too early to say that "after just one book … here’s a voice that will echo for years to come," as the San Antonio Express-News claims, Jordan is a new author worth watching.

Apr 10 2008 | Read Full Review of Mudbound

Red Room

Her days become easier after Florence, the wife of Hap Jackson, one of their black tenants, becomes more important to Laura as companion than as hired help.

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This novel is set in rural Mississippi post WW11 and pre Civil Rights Movement.

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Southern Lit Review

Since it remains one of my favorite books, I’m going to skip back a few years and choose it as our Read of the Month, a new SLR practice that will highlight one book a month, old or new.

Jun 17 2010 | Read Full Review of Mudbound

Creative Loafing

While working on her MFA at Columbia University, a creative writing assignment to write three pages in the voice of a family member sparked Jordan's memory of stories of her grandparents' move to a rundown farm they called "Mudbound."

Mar 19 2008 | Read Full Review of Mudbound

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