Books by Ladee
The Talented Ribkins
THE TALENTED RIBKINS is a debut novel by Ladee Hubbard, a fresh and exciting new voice in literary fiction. Inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois’ famous essay, this marvelously inventive novel tells the story of Johnny Ribkins, a 72-year old African-American antiques dealer from Florida who was born with a unique talent: he can make perfect maps of any space he walks through. Each member of the Ribkins family is in fact gifted: his father could see in the dark, his cousin spits fire and, before dying of a drug overdose, Johnny’s half-brother, Franklin, could scale any wall. When the novel begins, Johnny has been given one week to pay back money he stole from a former employer or else face dire consequences. So Johnny drives across Florida, digging up bags of money he buried in the ground at various points during his past. His first stop is to his half-brother’s childhood home where he is stunned to meet Eloise, the thirteen-year old niece Johnny did not know he had. Eloise’s uncanny ability to catch anything thrown at her confirms her identity as a Ribkins. Thereafter, in an effort to teach his niece to appreciate her gift, Johnny and Eloise visit four of Johnny’s cousins, all of whom were members of The Justice Committee, a political action group Johnny founded in the late 1960s. Johnny hopes that meeting these gifted individuals will inspire Eloise. He also has money buried near each of their homes and each stop is part of his continuing efforts to raise the funds to pay off his debt. But time is running out. Will Johnny be able to gather enough money to pay his debts? And will he be able to convince Eloise that being a Ribkins is something to be proud of?
A big-hearted novel about a family with special gifts who sometimes stumble in their efforts to succeed in life, THE TALENTED RIBKINS draws on such novels as Toni Morrison’s Sula and Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist to weave themes of race, class and politics into a wonderfully accomplished and engaging novel by a talented new author.
Praise for The Talented Ribkins
The Talented Ribkins is a charming and delightful debut novel with a profound heart, and Ladee Hubbard’s voice is a welcome original.Mary Gaitskill, author of Bad Behavior and Veronica
What a pleasure it was to take a road trip with The Talented Ribkins, a simultaneously gifted and flawed family, sharp-witted but prone to making utterly human errors. Ladee Hubbard has given us a fresh and original debut novel.Jami Attenberg, author of All Grown Up
With The Talented Ribkins, Ladee Hubbard proves herself to be a rare talent who pops onto the scene fully formed as a writer of power and purpose. This is a heart-wrenching quest into the absurdity that is family. Like the best literary fantasies, The Talented Ribkins succeeds because the heart that beats at its center couldn’t be realer.Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day and Pym
Ladee Hubbard’s The Talented Ribkins is a first novel of extraordinary confidence and panache. Brisk, funny, tender, scathing, the book is a road story with teeth, a secret history of those black Americans whom W. E. B. Du Bois called ’the talented tenth’—underground, in plain sight, sometimes both at the same time—superheroes of reality.Zachary Lazar, author of Sway