The Talented Ribkins (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Each of the Ribkins has one particular talent, some extremely unique and often, at first glance, seemingly of little use.  But their greatest talent may be in knowing the value of family and the support necessary for that group to survive.  As Johnny Ribkins and his niece Eloise go on a peripatetic trip through Florida the reader is taken on a journey through the problems of race, class and identity in our society while family uses its considerable skills to ward off pursuers and attain security. This is a novel that is an absolute delight yet has a serious undercurrent that will provoke thought and contemplation while remaining a great entertainment.

— From Bill


"For sheer reading pleasure Ladee Hubbard's original and wildly inventive novel is in a class by itself." --Toni Morrison

"The Talented Ribkins is a charming and delightful debut novel with a profound heart, and Ladee Hubbard's voice is a welcome original." --Mary Gaitskill

- An INDIE NEXT 2017 pick
- Winner of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award
- Winner of the William Faulkner - William Wisdom Prize

At seventy-two, Johnny Ribkins shouldn't have such problems: He's got one week to come up with the money he stole from his mobster boss or it's curtains.

What may or may not be useful to Johnny as he flees is that he comes from an African-American family that has been gifted with super powers that are a bit, well, odd. Okay, very odd. For example, Johnny's father could see colors no one else could see. His brother could scale perfectly flat walls. His cousin belches fire. And Johnny himself can make precise maps of any space you name, whether he's been there or not.

In the old days, the Ribkins family tried to apply their gifts to the civil rights effort, calling themselves The Justice Committee. But when their, eh, superpowers proved insufficient, the group fell apart. Out of frustration Johnny and his brother used their talents to stage a series of burglaries, each more daring than the last.

Fast forward a couple decades and Johnny's on a race against the clock to dig up loot he's stashed all over Florida. His brother is gone, but he has an unexpected sidekick: his brother's daughter, Eloise, who has a special superpower of her own.

Inspired by W. E. B. Du Bois's famous essay "The Talented Tenth" and fuelled by Ladee Hubbard's marvelously original imagination, The Talented Ribkins is a big-hearted debut novel about race, class, politics, and the unique gifts that, while they may cause some problems from time to time, bind a family together.

About the Author

Ladee Hubbard is the winner of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for the Short Story. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Talented Ribkins is her first novel.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781612196367
ISBN-10: 1612196365
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Publication Date: August 8th, 2017
Pages: 304
Language: English