Jeffrey Colvin

Author of
  • Africaville

A graduate of the US Naval Academy, Jeffrey Colvin served in the US Marines, and has worked as an advertising analyst, congressional aide, and nonprofit manager before attending Columbia University, from which he received an MFA. An excerpt of his novel-in-progress appeared in Narrative Magazine, and other fiction has appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, Prick of the Spindle, Word Riot, and Painted Bride Quarterly. His reviews and essays have appeared in Narrative, Rain Taxi Review of Books, The Millions, and The Brooklyn Rail. He has received grants and fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Colgate University, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, The Norman Mailer Center, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. In the summer of 2018, he was a Paul Cuffee Scholar at the Cuttyhunk Writers Residency.

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The novel unfolds against the backdrop of the village of Africaville, based on a real place that has not only become a symbol of Black Canadian identity, but a symbol of how the human spirit remains resilient in the face of adversity, tragedy, and change.

Colvin’s debut novel is the richly woven story of a town settled by former slaves on the outskirts of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and of one family that settled there. In the 1930s, teenage Kath Ella Sebolt wants desperately to escape the town, which she equates with deprivation. Months after her boyfriend is killed during a clash between people in the village and constables, she moves with her infant son to Montreal. Attending college as a single mother, and ultimately marrying a white man, she discovers that as much as she tries, severing ties to her former village is not easy. Kath Ella’s son Etienne puts more distance between himself and the village, first moving across the border to Vermont, and then farther south to Alabama, where he passes for white. Etienne’s son Warner finds his standing in his all-white community compromised by the sudden revelation that he has black grandparents. As the story comes full circle, Warner travels to get to know his black relatives in Africaville, who are suspicious of his motivations.

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