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The debut title from Akashic’s Open Lens imprint: a universal tale of family, heritage, and the ties that bind, from the nationally best-selling author Randall Robinson.

$20.95 $15.71

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What people are saying…

“Eloquent and erudite, Robinson’s oft-times mystical coming-of-age saga teems with rich and evocative historical insights.”

“Robinson writes with erudition about strange and wonderful matters.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A controversial novel on history and race that may interest readers of African and African American history.”
Library Journal

“Hypnotic . . . one of the finest novels this year . . . [Robinson] is a gifted storyteller.”

“Robinson is not only exploring what it means to be black. His theme of knowing the past before planning the future applies to all cultures, all people. Pick up this odyssey of family drama, history and love, and be prepared to consider your own beginnings.”
Shelf Awareness

Makeda is beyond ambitious and imaginative . . . well written and powerful, with an ending that is equal parts tragic and romantic in nature . . . a breathtaking revelation, weighted with romance and lovely passionate prose.”
New York Journal of Books

Makeda is a soaring, wrenching, and ultimately revealing glimpse into the roles within a powerful matriarchal family . . . A must-read for anyone who wants to appreciate history, the role of women, and the significance of transferring ideas, goals, and ambitions from one generation to the next.”
—Charles Ogletree, author of The Presumption of Guilt

“In Robinson’s majestic prose and sweeping historical vision, the tongues of Virginia Woolf, Gabriel García Márquez, and Toni Morrison blend to remind us that we can renew our souls in the eyes of ancestors who return to us in whatever way our lives demand.”
—Michael Eric Dyson, author of Know What I Mean?

“Like the protagonist Makeda’s many incarnations, this haunting novel of return reminds us that we are all part of something far greater than ourselves, or this moment.”
—Jill Nelson, author of Volunteer Slavery

“A scholar and a poet uncompromisingly committed to justice, Randall Robinson is a rare and exquisite writer. This novel will burn in your brain long after you have left its haunting pages.”
—Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief of Essence


A selection of the Open Lens imprint.

Makeda Gee Florida Harris March is a proud and graceful matriarch, the anchor and emotional bellwether who holds together a hard-working African American family living in 1950s Richmond, Virginia. Embattled by the social ills of the day and the deferred dreams of Makeda’s son David and his wife, the hopes of the March family are pinned on their elder son Gordon and the seedlings of change that will grow into the Civil Rights Movement. Lost in the shadows is Gordon’s younger brother Gray, who is also bright and perceptive, but doesn’t quite measure up in his own eyes, or in the eyes of his father.

While struggling to survive the emotional vacuum of his household, Gray escapes into the safe and magical world of his grandmother Makeda’s tiny parlor. Makeda, a woman blind since birth but who has always dreamed in color, begins to confide in Gray the things she “sees” and remembers from her dream state, and an increasingly detailed story emerges that is layered with historical accuracy beyond the scope of Makeda’s limited education. Gradually, Gray begins to make a connection between his grandmother’s dreams and the epic life of an African queen described in the Bible . . .

Part coming-of-age story, part spiritual journey, and part love story, Makeda is a universal tale of family, heritage, and the ties that bind. It is about the people who help to shape and mold us, and lead us into the light. Appealing to the deepest sense of who we are, Robinson plumbs the hearts of Makeda and Gray, and summons our collective blood memories, taking the reader on an unforgettable journey of the soul that will linger long after the last page has been turned.

Watch Randall Robinson on C-SPAN/Book TV’s In Depth.

Watch Randall Robinson on PBS’s Tavis Smiley.

Listen to an interview with Randall Robinson at KPFK Pacifica’s Uprising with Sonali.

Watch Randall Robinson on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, November 15, 2011:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Book Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Published: 8/30/11
  • IBSN: 9781617750229
  • e-IBSN: 9781617750694


RANDALL ROBINSON is the author of Makeda, An Unbroken Agony, and of the national best-sellers The Debt, The Reckoning, Quitting America, and Defending the Spirit. In 1984, he established the Free South Africa Movement, which pushed successfully for the imposition of US sanctions against apartheid South Africa. In 1994, his public advocacy, including a twenty-seven-day hunger strike, led to the UN multinational operation that restored Haiti’s first democratically elected government to power. Robinson is a professor of law at Penn State Law School and is the creator, coproducer, and host of the public television human rights series World on Trial. He lives with his wife Hazel in St. Kitts, West Indies.

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