The Talented Ribkins
Inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois’ famous essay, this marvelously inventive novel tells the story of Johnny Ribkins, a 72-year old African-American antique dealer from Florida who was born with a unique talent: he can make perfect maps of any space he walks through. Each member of the Ribkins family is in fact gifted: his father could see in the dark, his cousin spits fire and, before dying of a drug overdose, Johnny’s half-brother, Franklin, could scale any wall. When the novel begins, Johnny has been given one week to pay back the money he stole from a former employer or else face dire consequences. So Johnny drives across Florida, digging up bags of money he buried in the ground at various points during his past. His first stop is to his half-brother’s childhood home where he is stunned to meet Eloise, the thirteen-year-old niece Johnny did not know he had. Eloise’s uncanny ability to catch anything thrown at her confirms her identity as a Ribkins. Thereafter, in an effort to teach his niece to appreciate her gift, Johnny and Eloise visit four of Johnny’s cousins, all of whom were members of The Justice Committee, a political action group Johnny founded in the late 1960s. Johnny hopes that meeting these gifted individuals will inspire Eloise. He also has money buried near each of their homes and each stop is part of his continuing efforts to raise the funds to pay off his debt. But time is running out. Will Johnny be able to gather enough money to pay his debts? And will he be able to convince Eloise that being a Ribkins is something to be proud of?A big-hearted novel about a family with special gifts who sometimes stumble in their efforts to succeed in life, The Talented Ribkins draws on such novels as Toni Morrison’s SulaThe Intuitionist to weave themes of race, class, and politics into a wonderfully accomplished and engaging novel.

The Talented Ribkins Details

TitleThe Talented Ribkins
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseJun 6th, 2017
PublisherMelville House Publishing
ISBN1612196365
ISBN-139781612196367
Rating
GenreFiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism

The Talented Ribkins Review

  • Lauren
    May 31, 2017
    4.5 stars - Really well written, easy to get into, and it wasn't unnecessarily heavy or complex. Also had a nice tinge of magical realism that I wish had been explained or examined on a deeper level.Essentially, The Talented Ribkins is the story of one member of the Ribkins clan, 72-year-old Johnny, whose recent money theft has left him in debt to his employer. To pay it off, Johnny begins an odyssey to dig up dozens of money caches he buried across Florida decades previous. As he drives from pl 4.5 stars - Really well written, easy to get into, and it wasn't unnecessarily heavy or complex. Also had a nice tinge of magical realism that I wish had been explained or examined on a deeper level.Essentially, The Talented Ribkins is the story of one member of the Ribkins clan, 72-year-old Johnny, whose recent money theft has left him in debt to his employer. To pay it off, Johnny begins an odyssey to dig up dozens of money caches he buried across Florida decades previous. As he drives from place to place, he visits family members and friends from his past of crime and civil rights disobedience, learning things about the Ribkin clan he never knew and righting wrongs he had done in his youth. This is not only a personal odyssey for Johnny, but a coming of age for his young niece who is struggling to live up to her Ribkin roots and find her path in life. A very nice book! Will be great for summer reading!
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  • Cindy
    April 28, 2017
    All of the Ribkins family have unique- but not quite super- powers. Whether fire belching or wall scaling, the descendents of the Rib King © are out of the ordinary. Johnny, at 72, thought he'd never again need his gift of visionary mapmaking. But after embezzling from his boss, and being threatened with death unless he comes up with the cash, he's in a bind. Johnny reluctantly embarks on a road trip to locate money he buried decades earlier. On his first stop he discovers Eloise, a teenage niec All of the Ribkins family have unique- but not quite super- powers. Whether fire belching or wall scaling, the descendents of the Rib King © are out of the ordinary. Johnny, at 72, thought he'd never again need his gift of visionary mapmaking. But after embezzling from his boss, and being threatened with death unless he comes up with the cash, he's in a bind. Johnny reluctantly embarks on a road trip to locate money he buried decades earlier. On his first stop he discovers Eloise, a teenage niece he never knew he had. Eloise, who may have untapped powers of her own, becomes a grudging partner in his search. Johnny rekindles his unused talent to find where he stashed money raised to help the Civil Rights movement. His loftily named Justice Committee fell apart decades ago, but Johnny's need to find the money brings him to the doorsteps of the now much older surving members. Can he save his own hide, help Eloise understand her legacy, and bring some closure to the tumultuous days of his youth? This ambitious debut novel- part buddy road trip, part civil rights history, and part magical realism- entertains from beginning to the satisfying end.
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