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Convergent Books

How Far to the Promised Land: One Black Family's Story of Hope and Survival in the American South

How Far to the Promised Land: One Black Family's Story of Hope and Survival in the American South

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From the New York Times contributing opinion writer and award-winning author of Reading While Black, a riveting intergenerational account of his family's search for home and hope

"A riveting book that invites you into the personal journey of one of the finest writers alive today."--Beth Moore, New York Times bestselling author of All My Knotted-Up Life


For much of his life, Esau McCaulley was taught to see himself as an exception: someone who, through hard work, faith, and determination, overcame childhood poverty, anti-Black racism, and an absent father to earn a job as a university professor and a life in the middle class.

But that narrative was called into question one night, when McCaulley answered the phone and learned that his father--whose absence defined his upbringing--died in a car crash. McCaulley was being asked to deliver his father's eulogy, to make sense of his complicated legacy in a country that only accepts Black men on the condition that they are exceptional, hardworking, perfect.

The resulting effort sent McCaulley back through his family history, seeking to understand the community that shaped him. In these pages, we meet his great-grandmother Sophia, a tenant farmer born with the gift of prophecy who scraped together a life in Jim Crow Alabama; his mother, Laurie, who raised four kids alone in an era when single Black mothers were demonized as "welfare queens"; and a cast of family, friends, and neighbors who won small victories in a world built to swallow Black lives. With profound honesty and compassion, he raises questions that implicate us all: What does each person's struggle to build a life teach us about what we owe each other? About what it means to be human?

How Far to the Promised Land is a thrilling and tender epic about being Black in America. It's a book that questions our too-simple narratives about poverty and upward mobility; a book in which the people normally written out of the American Dream are given voice.

Author: Esau McCaulley
Publisher: Convergent Books
Published: 09/12/2023
Pages: 240
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 0.80lbs
Size: 8.35h x 5.20w x 0.94d
ISBN: 9780593241080

Review Citation(s):
Publishers Weekly 06/12/2023
Kirkus Reviews 08/01/2023
Booklist 08/01/2023 pg. 6

About the Author
Esau McCaulley is associate professor of New Testament at Wheaton College and theologian in residence at Progressive Baptist Church, a historically Black congregation in Chicago. He is the author of the award-winning book Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope and the children's book Josey Johnson's Hair and the Holy Spirit. He is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. His writings have also appeared in such places as The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Christianity Today. He is married to Mandy, a pediatrician and Navy reservist. Together, they have four wonderful children.

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