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.