Five-Carat Soul

National Book Award-winner James McBride (The Good Lord BirdKill 'Em and Leave) delivers pure gold with Five-Carat Soul, a collection of short stories. Each piece in this compilation features compelling characters with distinctive luster. As the richness of their interactions and relationships builds, readers are sure to find the resulting treasure irresistible.

Five-Carat Soul starts with "The Under Graham Railroad Box Car Set." A toy collector discovers the gem of all gems: a one-of-a-kind toy train General Robert E. Lee commissioned Horace Smith to build for Lee's five-year-old son, Graham. But after Graham died unexpectedly, the slave tending him escaped with the train, and its whereabouts remained unknown for more than a century.

McBride also includes two sets of related stories: "The Five-Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band" and "Mr. P & the Wind." The first series features a ragtag bunch of kids from "The Bottom" in Uniontown, Pa., who start a band. The other employs zoo animals as the protagonists. Their casts struggle with their respective obstacles--for the kids their poverty, for the animals their imprisonment--to discover strong purpose in their lives. In these sections, McBride blends his unmistakable humor and insight to brew the satire for which he is so well regarded.

Five-Carat Soul shakes with laughter, grips with passion and oozes wisdom. Readers should put aside any prejudices they might harbor about short fiction because together these stories are a masterpiece that will enrich everyone it touches. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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