Renowned author Ayana Mathis is set to release her long-awaited novel, The Unsettled, on September 26. The new book comes a decade after her groundbreaking debut, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, which garnered critical acclaim and comparisons to literary giants. In a poignant letter to readers, Mathis provides a glimpse into the profound themes and inspirations behind her upcoming work, inviting us into a story that explores family, belonging, and a fractured America. “The Unsettled is about looking for a place to belong, to be safe and free; it draws inspiration from my own experience with housing instability as a kid,” Mathis wrote in a letter to readers.
The Unsettled takes readers on a journey into the life of Toussaint, a thirteen-year-old boy seeking refuge in the small Alabama town of Bonaparte. It is here that he encounters Dutchess, his estranged grandmother, whose existence he was unaware of for years. Toussaint’s odyssey is a poignant reflection of his own experiences with housing instability, mirroring Mathis’s own childhood.
The novel dives into the deeply rooted issues of housing instability and the quest for a place to belong. Mathis draws a parallel between the legacy of a Black community in Bonaparte, once thriving but now reduced to just five members, and her characters’ struggle against encroaching white developers.
In the letter she Mathis poignantly describes the essence of The Unsettled, stating, “It’s also a book about having land and losing land and what it means for a fractured family in America. It’s about the echoes of loss through generations. Most of all, it’s an homage to family, fierce love, and to legacy and how those things thrive, no matter how circumstance and history might try to destroy them.”
Renowned author Jesmyn Ward has praised the novel as “expansive and explosive,” highlighting Ayana Mathis’s artistry as a writer and storyteller. The anticipation for The Unsettled is palpable, with readers eager to embark on this emotionally charged journey through the intricate tapestry of family, love, and the relentless pursuit of belonging.
As Ayana Mathis’s latest masterpiece prepares for its release, readers worldwide await the opportunity to immerse themselves in a narrative that promises to resonate deeply and provoke profound reflections on the bonds that tie us together, the legacy we carry, and the places we call home. The Unsettled is poised to be a significant addition to contemporary literature, affirming Mathis’s status as a gifted and influential voice in the literary world.
The Unsettled will be available for purchase beginning September