A book of short stories and a novella, inspired by Black lives in America and featuring the eponymous work "My Monticello" that tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacist.
A startling and powerful debut collection ... Our proximity is part of the astonishment of this story, which thrusts upon us an intimacy with Monticello’s many physical spaces ... Up close, we cannot ignore our present-day complicity with history even as the novella moves propulsively toward tomorrow’s inevitability. Simply put, a masterly feat ... The novella reminds us of what fiction does best: reflect our reality back at us just when we need it most. My Monticello aches with both resonance and timeliness, engaging in rich conversation with recent, real-life events never far from our minds ... The preceding stories in the collection, prescient and wide-ranging, depict finely drawn Black characters awash in microaggressions even as they strive to be and have more ... [Johnson's] deep connection to the state — its land, its landmarks, its history, its cruelty and its beauty — thrums throughout. It’s exhilarating to imagine the stories still to come from this gifted bard of a site whose remains she knows so well.
Johnson doesn’t shy away from any topic as she calmly delivers, with too-real certainty, a ruthless kind of truth ... These six innovative, avant-garde stories showcase Johnson’s ingenuity ... Johnson plots each piece delicately, arranging them so that the subtleties shine through. The stories range in content and in tone—some ironic, some hopeful, some slightly sadistic—but each pulls its own weight, and each feels completely natural alongside the rest of the collection ... Throughout, Johnson’s one-of-a-kind voice offers a gateway to new perspectives, and necessary ones at that ... Part of the enjoyment in reading My Monticello is gaping at Johnson’s seemingly endless skill in plotting and sentence structure. While the novella is a bit slow-paced at first, and a couple of the stories could have benefited from a more apparent focal point, the collection is full of depth, and there are too many takeaways to count ... both unprecedented and inimitable, a beautifully thought out collection of elegant craftsmanship.
... capitalizes on the ongoing fascination with dystopian tales but uses it to explore themes of race, inheritance and community ... The novella and each of these stories are sharp in their critique of American culture and history, yet they are tenderhearted in their portrayal of characters faced with injustice and hate and buoyed by love, acceptance, potential and the recognition of intrinsic worth ... Johnson’s book is fantastically written and honest with every word. Each of the stories are stunning in their emotional range, detail and scope, with compelling plots and characters that feel all too real. It grapples with issues of race and belonging in new and insightful ways and is highly recommended.