An astonishing debut novel that bears witness to the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War and the first term of Obama's presidency, The Travelers is both an intimate family portrait and a searing examination of America today.
When the boy was four, he asked his father why people needed sleep. His father said, 'So God could unfuck all the things people fuck up.'
*LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL FICTION 2020*
As America recovers from the Second World War, two families' journeys begin. James Vincent, born in 1942 to an Irish-American family, escapes his parents' turbulent marriage and attends law school in New York, where he moves up the social ladder as a prosperous and bright attorney. Meanwhile, Agnes Miller, a beautiful black woman on date with a handsome suitor, is pulled over by the police on a rural road in Georgia. The terrible moments that follow make her question her future and pivot her into a hasty marriage and new life in the Bronx.
Illuminating more than six decades of sweeping change - from the struggle for civil rights and the chaos of Vietnam to Obama's first year as President - James and Agnes's families will come together in unexpected, intimate and profoundly human ways.
'Regina Porter's sprawling, sparkling debut novel. is an exhilarating ride. Porter is a wickedly astute chronicler of human foibles. In her hands, this series of glimpses feels something like life itself.' Guardian
Praise for The Travelers
The Travelers is a rare debut that heralds what should be a long and promising career.Times Literary Supplement
An astoundingly audacious debut.Oprah Magazine
Regina Porter’s sprawling, sparkling debut novel… is an exhilarating ride. Porter is a wickedly astute chronicler of human foibles. In her hands, this series of glimpses feels something like life itself.Clare Clark, Guardian
Spanning six decades and three continents…[The Travelers] is held together by an elegant web of connections… Porter has a striking habit of telescoping time to chart individual trajectories… The often breathtaking immediacy and assurance of Porter’s prose carries you through.Daily Mail
If you’re looking for a poetic, spare, sometimes funny tale of ordinary people pining for meaningful connections — or if you’re someone who wishes Raymond Carver had published a novel — you have arrived.New York Times
This kaleidoscopic debut novel... deftly skips back and forth through the decades, sometimes summarizing a life in a few paragraphs, sometimes spending pages on one conversation. As one character observes, "We move in circles in this life."New Yorker
[A] remarkable debut novel... There is a confidence to Porter's writing that makes it hard to believe that this is her first novel... The Travelers succeeds because Porter is so clear-eyed when documenting human interactions, the mass of particularities amounting to a gloriously and depressingly messy picture of life in America.Literary Review
American history comes to vivid, engaging life in this tale of two interconnected families (one white, one black)… the complex, beautifully drawn characters are unique and indelible.Entertainment Weekly
A sprawling, ambitious debut ... Beautifully written and intricately plotted.Kirkus
An absolute wonder of a novel. A sweeping examination of race and class within America's troubled history. A love letter to fearless women laced with a sharp humour. I'm thrilled by the magnitude, ingenuity and heart of Regina Porter's daring vision.Irenosen Okojie
In this innovative and deeply moving debut, Regina Porter has mastered the kind of alchemy found in a great painting by Poussin: her canvas is vast, her subject ambitious, and yet her execution is so brilliantly devoted to particulars that it creates a miraculous intimacy. The beauty of this book lies in how Porter's characters, through resilience and community, art and creative love, cut new doors out of the corners they've been backed into by history.Garth Greenwell
Thrillingly ambitious, deeply affecting ... There is so much offered here – race, history, love, loss, and family, just to name a few – that this debut novel should be considered nothing less than a supreme act of generosity.Jamel Brinkley
The Travelers is a great, grand tabernacle of a novel, under the roof of which it seems the entire history of the United States and all its people has been gathered into a single blazing congregation. It is full of tales tall and short, lives black, white, and every shade between, from the north, the south, east, and west. None but the biggest-hearted, sharpest-eyed, most generous-spirited of writers could pull off a book like this. Regina Porter is some kind of visionary.Paul Harding
Regina Porter’s The Travelers is not only the compelling intergenerational saga of two intertwining families but also a deadpan and mordant chronicle of 20th-century America’s casual intolerance and racial violence, as well as a series of portraits of intrepid women, a celebration of family responsibility, and an impassioned reminder that we most honor those we loved by continuing to love others.Jim Shepard, National Book Award shortlisted author of Like You’d Understand, Anyway
In The Travelers, generations of two families – one black and one white – journey across time, race, geography and the wounds of history with sweeping breadth and disarming intimacy. Porter's debut signals the arrival of a fully formed, singular talent. You've been wanting to read this book for a long time; it's just that Porter hadn't written it yet.Ayana Mathis