Biographysee all titles
The harrowing true story that inspired the critically acclaimed film
The son of a freed slave, Solomon Northup lived the first thirty years of his life as a free man in upstate New York. In the spring of 1841, he was offered a job: a short-term, lucrative engagement as a violinist in a traveling circus. It was a trap. In Washington, DC, Northup was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years on plantations in Louisiana, enduring backbreaking labor, unimaginable violence, and inhumane treatment at the hands of cruel masters, until a kind stranger helped to win his release. His account of those years is a shocking, unforgettable portrait of America’s most insidious historical institution as told by a man who experienced it firsthand.
Published shortly after Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Northup’s memoir became a bestseller in 1853. With its eloquent depiction of life before and after bondage, Twelve Years a Slave was a unique and effective entry into the national debate over slavery. Rediscovered in the 1960s and now the inspiration for a major motion picture, Northup’s poignant narrative gives readers an invaluable glimpse into a shameful chapter of American history.
In his critically acclaimed novels, Super Sad True Love Story, Absurdistan, and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Gary Shteyngart won over readers with his blistering humor and fearless vision of contemporary society. Now, in Little Failure, he tells his most heartfelt and unlikely story yet: his own. With writing that is ruthlessly honest and brave, striking a deeper vein of emotion, this is a memoir of failing superpowers, of the big-haired ’80s and the flannelled ’90s, of limitless yearning and sidesplitting mistakes, and of an immigrant family coming to America, as told by a lifelong misfit who forged from his imagination an essential literary voice and a place in the world.