Winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, a thought-provoking and enchanting debut about a Black woman doing whatever it takes to protect all she loves at the beginning of the civil rights movement in Alabama.
"My favorite novels light up my brain with things I hadn’t considered before – and this one does exactly that. The deep complexity of the American Civil Rights movement; the various, sometimes opposing approaches of its leaders to desegregation; the gains and inevitable casualties that social progress can claim. With compelling characters and a heart-pounding plot, Jamila Minnicks pulled me into pages of history I’d never turned before."—Barbara Kingsolver
"Elegant and nuanced, Moonrise Over New Jessup is an incandescent work of art through-and-through, from a powerful new voice."—Jason Mott, author of National Book Award winner Hell of a Book
"An immersive and timely recasting of history by a gloriously talented writer to watch. You will fall in love with New Jessup: the town and the book."—Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of The Revisioners
“Moonrise over New Jessup is a tender and beautifully written debut that shines light on the untold stories of the women who supported the foot soldiers of the bourgeoning civil rights movement. Warm and affecting, this book will draw you in with its heart.”—Heidi W. Durrow, author of the New York Times bestseller The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
"Alice's voice, her witty, generous, keenly observant, utterly compelling voice, will be with me for a long time. And the world of New Jessup that she evokes -- not just her beloved, Raymond, and his family, but the whole community, each character so vividly drawn, from Miss Vivian to Patience to the ghost of Rosie, who hovers, for Alice, behind so much -- that too is now part of my lived experience, as well as their struggles to preserve the integrity and autonomy of New Jessup in a period of great transition, to ensure a fully independent thriving Black community -- it's a complex history I didn't know, and Jamila Minnicks brings it alive so powerfully. This beautiful novel deserves, and I'm sure will find, many readers."—Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl
“No one who's read Zora Neale Hurston ever forgets her Eatonville. So too will Jamila Minnicks’s New Jessup live on in the American imagination as both a place and an idea. Moonrise Over New Jessup is a staggeringly beautiful love letter to Blackness -- particularly southern Blackness -- that celebrates the joys, sadness, and multiplicity of existence outside the white gaze. An absolute triumph, Moonrise Over New Jessup confirms a major voice in Jamila Minnicks, a writer everyone should be watching.”—Dionne Irving, author of The Islands
"A thought-provoking and enchanting debut."—The Rumpus, "The Most Beautiful Books of 2022"
“Jamila Minnicks has written an unforgettable debut, and announced herself as a writer to watch for years to come.”—Chicago Review of Books, "12 Must-Read Books of January 2023"
“A warmly appealing book debut” with “impassioned characters. A thoughtful look at a complex issue.”
"An outstanding writer, Minnicks excels at capturing the atmosphere and issues of a specific locale at a particular time, the Deep South at the dawn of the civil rights era. This highly recommended title is an excellent choice for book discussion groups and would make a great movie.”—Library Journal
“I was awestruck by its beauty, rapt by its originality, and astounded by its depth. But what astonished me most was learning that this is a debut. The craftwork is extraordinary. Was this book dreamed into existence? Did the Ancestors themselves place this story in the writer’s mind? From page one, I knew this work would transform me. It expanded the way I imagine what is possible in the art form. More than interesting, it is integral. More than important, it is inspiring. Read this book. Cherish it. Protect it. You must. Right out of the gate, Jamila Minnicks’s Moonrise Over New Jessup is a masterpiece.” —Robert Jones, Jr., author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Prophets