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Angels of Detroit (Hardcover)

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Angels of Detroit    Christopher Hebert

Christopher Hebert’s remarkable intersecting stories of those who still “live” in what remains of a once thriving city is set just outside of Detroit's revitalized city center and midtown area. Deteriorating buildings hold secrets and desires. Vacant, dimly lit blocks remain a constant reminder of yesterday, frustration and loss.  

Built on the bones of Detroit’s history Hebert weaves an extraordinary fictional story of women and men who do what they can to retain or regain control of at least some part of their lives. Some make the best of what remains, others can not accept the loss. Throughout, the scarred physical landscape looms large as a decisive underlying influence in their decisions.

It’s a challenge to summarize this engaging,expansive,multi-character novel without revealing the plot but there is much to recommend. There’s an ease and clarity to Hebert’s writing and the characters’ voices ring believably true. He carefully builds the individual story lines and in unexpected ways gradually ties most together adding a sense of urgency and suspense to the story.  And for me, the Angels of the novel may be the female characters who with few exceptions are strong, resolute survivors. Perhaps these women, like the 2 women who stand side by side on the original seal of Detroit, represent the hope that the city will rise once again.

     “The seal in the middle of the flag represents the fire that destroyed the city in 1805.   

     Two women stand in the foreground while the city burns in the background.  

     The  woman on the left weeps over the destruction, while the woman on the right

     consoles her by gesturing to a new city that will rise in its place.”

— From Sharon's Picks


Once an example of American industrial might, Detroit has gone bankrupt, its streets dark, its storefronts vacant. Miles of city blocks lie empty, saplings growing through the cracked foundations of abandoned buildings.

In razor-sharp, beguiling prose, Angels of Detroit draws us into the lives of multiple characters struggling to define their futures in this desolate landscape: a scrappy group of activists trying to save the city with placards and protests; a curious child who knows the blighted city as her own personal playground; an elderly great-grandmother eking out a community garden in an oil-soaked patch of dirt; a carpenter with an explosive idea of how to give the city a new start; a confused idealist who has stumbled into debt to a human trafficker; a weary corporate executive who believes she is doing right by the city she remembers at its prime--each of their desires is distinct, and their visions for a better city are on a collision course.

In this propulsive, masterfully plotted epic, an urban wasteland whose history is plagued with riots and unrest is reimagined as an ambiguous new frontier--a site of tenacity and possible hope. Driven by struggle and suspense, and shot through with a startling empathy, Christopher Hebert's magnificent second novel unspools an American story for our time.

About the Author

Christopher Hebert is the author of the novel The Boiling Season, winner of the of the 2013 Friends of American Writers award. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such publications as FiveChapters, Cimarron Review, Narrative, Interview, and the Millions. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and is editor-at-large for the University of Michigan Press. Hebert is currently the Jack E. Reese Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tennessee Libraries and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781632863638
ISBN-10: 1632863634
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: July 5th, 2016
Pages: 432
Language: English