Moon and the Mars
A powerful work set in the Five Points neighbourhood of New York City in the years 1857–1863, a period in which America's attitudes towards people of colour and slavery shifted painfully and transformationally – to the point where a war that began to restore the union becomes one that owes much to black fighting regiments, and common cause grows for the abolition of slavery. In Moon and the Mars the daily life of Five Points is experienced through the eyes of Theo, aged 7 at the start of the book and 13 at its close. Theo is half Black and half Irish, an orphan living between the homes of her Black and Irish grandparents. Through her eyes we see everything from P.T. Barnum's circus to the Draft Riots that tore NYC asunder, and the daily maelstrom of work, camaraderie, and hardship necessary simply to survive in Five Points.
Kia Corthron's first novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, won the coveted First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction in 2016. It was championed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, Robin D.G. Kelley and Angela Y. Davis, among many others, and received rave reviews in the New York Times Book Review – where it was an Editor's Choice – the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.
“At just under 600 pages, Moon and the Mars is an immersive read, propelling the reader into New York’s Five Points district between the years 1857-1863, as the nation marches towards Civil War. It is a story of racism, women’s rights, slavery, poverty, immigration, death and young love.The story is told through the eyes of Theo, a young biracial orphan who lives between her Irish Grammy Cahill and Black Grammy Brook’s homes. As the story progresses, our protagonist evolves from child to teenager. As she does so, the world around her changes, and so too does her understanding of this world and her position within it. Author, Corthron, a critically acclaimed playwright, effectively draws from this experience bolstering the story with song, props – letters, news bulletins – and spirited dialogue, to make the novel intimate and immediate.”– Brigid O’Dea, The Irish Times
"A searing, far-flung epic, a truly American tale, centered on one girl of African-American and Irish heritage, as she makes her way into a world rife with brutality, change and war. Kia Corthron is one of our finest novelists, constantly unveiling the truth and the way histories have been hidden from us, revealing people in all their glory and imperfection. This isn't just a novel. It is a history, a monument to hope."—Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted and The Child Finder