In 1858, two black women meet at a restaurant and begin to plot a revolution. Mary Ellen Pleasant owns a string of hotels in San Francisco that secretly double as havens for runaway slaves. Her comrade, Annie, is a young Jamaican who has given up her life of privilege to fight for the abolitionist cause. Together they join John Brown's doomed enterprise and barely escape with their lives.
With mesmerizing skill, Cliff weaves a multitude of voices into a gripping, poignant story of the struggle for liberation that began not long after the first slaves landed on America's shores.
Michelle Cliff is the author of No Telephone to Heaven, among other books of fiction, and a forthcoming essay collection, Apocalypso. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA.