Beacon Press: Mosquito
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Author: Gayl Jones

The critically acclaimed author of The Healing (National Book Award finalist) takes us on another unforgettable journey—with Mosquito.

Sojourner Nadine Jane Johnson, also known as Mosquito, is an African-American truck driver. Set in a south Texas border town, Mosquito is the story of her accidental and yet growing involvement in “the new underground railroad,” a sanctuary movement for Mexican immigrants. The novel is, in the author’s own words, “about self-definition, self-identification, the need to be not afraid of who you are—to be yourself, even in a multicultural and multiracial society . . . the need everyone has to define themselves and not be defined by others . . . and to tell his or her own stories.” And the stories, told in narrative, verse, and song—even in a complete play—abound.

Mosquito’s journey begins when she discovers Maria, a stowaway who nearly gives birth in the back of the truck; Maria will eventually name her baby Journal, a mispelled tribute to her unwitting benefactor Sojourner. Along the road, Mosquito introduces us to Delgadina, a Chicana bartender who fries cactus, writes haunting stories, and studies to become a detective—one of the most original and appealing characters in all of Jones’s fiction. We also meet Monkey Bread, a childhood pal who is, improbably, assistant to a blonde star in Hollywood, where Mosquito pays her a memorable visit. As her understanding of the immigrants’s need to forge new lives and identities deepens, so too does Mosquito’s romance with Ray, a gentle revoluntionary, philosopher, and, perhaps, a priest. Mosquito stands as one more testimony to the brillance of this gifted writer.
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“Bury those easy-to-read Black romance books. Mosquito is where African-American literature is heading as we approach the twenty-first century.” -E. Ethelbert Miller, Emerge

“If you’re acquainted with the lyrical tug of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, then you’ll find something familiar and compelling about the narrative voice in Gayl Jones’s newest novel, Mosquito. . . . Mosquito’s voice is melodic, direct, and so conversational that it hooks us immediately and makes us surrender fully to the narrative. . . . To be sure, these observations crackle with wit and a joyful, almost child-like candor.” -Quinn Eli, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Gayl Jones is the black writer we all want to be when we grow up . . . Mosquito is Gayl Jones unbound, but certainly not untethered nor without her still prodigious storehouses of language, craft, and storytelling prowess.” -Greg Tate, Voice Literary Supplement

Mosquito will amuse and confuse and instruct and pique and exhaust you. Sometimes the anecdotes are so good you call up friends to share them. There are a hundred times you want to shout, ‘Right on!’“
-Sandra Scofield, Chicago Tribune

“Most apparent and most surprising, is Jones’s sense of humor. When she’s at her best, her sly, subversive wit echoes Ishmael Reed at his most sarcastic.” -Jabari Asim, Washington Post Book World

“Undoubtedly a literary tour de force.” -James A. Miller, Boston Globe


ISBN: 978-080708347-5
Publication Date: 2/1/2000
Pages: 624
Size: x 8 Inches (US)
Price:  $39.95
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.