This spring I had the great pleasure of attending a reading and book signing by Stephanie Powell Watts for her newly release novel No One Is Coming to Save Us. I have been remiss in putting this review up, so I will remedy that situation now.
First I want to say that this book is one of the most important American novels of the last 200 years. As a professor of English Literature, I do not say that lightly. This is a book that will, I hope, be read and reread and taught in college classes for many years to come.
It would be easy to say that her novel is a treatment of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, but it is not. Watts treats similar themes as Fitzgerald does, but she focuses not on the lives of the idle wealthy but on those of poor and working class African-Americans. These are ideas that inform most of humanity, and Watts is brilliant in her take on them. Her writing is lyrical, witty, compelling, and deeply moving.
Watts shows people who want a home and have hopes of family and relationships. She shows the depths of human desires and feelings. This book belongs on the syllabus of those teaching American literature, and it should be read by anyone interested in a deep and moving examination of the souls of human beings.
If we are looking at books in a five star system, then I give this not just five stars but five shining stars.
Please read this novel!