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Both epic and intimate: The Love Songs of W.E. Du Bois, by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, reviewed

To write a first novel of 800 pages is either supremely confident or crazy. Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, a professor of English at the University of Oklahoma and the author of five poetry collections, now gives us The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois, a multigenerational saga set over two centuries. It opens in the 18th, with a young black American in search of the Seminole tribe in Florida. Instead, he finds another Native American community in an area of Georgia fabulously named The-Place-in-the-Middle-of-the-Tall-Trees. He calls himself Coromantee, and is embraced by the Creeks. This part of the novel is narrated like a chorus by the collective voice of the community.