“The Prophets” by Robert Jones Jr.— A Forbidden Love

Jones Jr. Robert. “The Prophets”, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2021.

A Forbidden Love

Amos Lassen

“The Prophets” by Robert Jones Jr. is the story of the forbidden union between Isaiah and Samuel, two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation and the solace and refuge they find in each other and a betrayal that threatens their very beings. 

In the barn the two took care of the animals and each other. The barn became their place of refuge where they could be intimate away from their hard masters. However, when an older man who was also a slave tries to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the two young men begin to turn on their own. Their love, which was once so simple becomes sinful and a danger to the harmony of the plantation.

Through the voices of slaver and enslaved and from the women that surround them, author Jones tells the story. As tensions build, a climactic reckoning ensues and we read about “the pain and suffering of inheritance” alongside of hope, beauty, and truth allowing us to better understand the power of love.

We read of the brutality and cruelty of slavery and colonialism, abuse, the beauty of two black gay men in love, the l treatment for both men and women and religiosity. It is hard not to weep while reading.

Halifax plantation was surrounded by wilderness and treacherous waters. Many people died on the plantation. It is difficult to share the story of the two gay teens who were slaves there and the book is so much more than their story. We see how their relationship affected the other characters while at the same reading of slavery.  This isn’t an easy read and it is a total experience.

Here is a look at Black queerness as well as an account of slavery in the antebellum South that highlights lives over plantation life and the humanity of the slaves over the inhumanity of slavery. Jones gives us a look at the evils of white supremacy and fanaticism yet with hope and heroism and humanity.The prose is lyrical in his debut novel. The characters are wonderfully drawn and haunting.

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