The Turner House

Finalist, National Book Awards 2015 for Fiction

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy book cover, 2015
ISBN 9780544303164
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Angela Flournoy author photo
Angela Flournoy

Angela Flournoy is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Southern California. She has taught writing at various universities and has worked for the D.C. Public Library. More about this author >

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A powerful, timely debut, The Turner House marks a major new contribution to the story of the American family. The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone–and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts–and shapes–their family’s future. Already praised by Ayana Mathis as “utterly moving” and “un-putdownable,” The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.

Judges Citation

Angela Flournoy's The Turner House has accomplished a feat of storytelling. Much like Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns, which chronicles with painstaking clarity and intrepid research the story of African Americans undone by a system of injustice by way of flagrant civil rights violations, discriminatory and unequal housing practices, and outright violence and murder against the descendants of slaves who built this nation, Angela Flournoy's The Turner House does the equivalent in fiction. This spectacular novel brings to life a tapestry of stories told from the point of view of one family who attempts to access the most modest inroads into the American dream and shows how the story of how African Americans in this country is often not from point A to B, but from less than zero to zero to finally a home one can call one's own, and then to less than zero often times enough again. But through scrap and hard work and love and trouble the Turners are at once like a family like no other, and yet also like many black families. And I could not help but recognize my own large family in the sly glances, the secret trips to the casino, little tipples, but most importantly the determination and the pride and the honesty that makes them survivors, with love, intelligence, and a mission to hold on to and make America accountable for its dream, not for some but for all. As Dr. King said many times, "America has written a check that it cannot cash," and Angela Flournoy's The Turner House tells us about that invisible America. These are not the Huxtables, but these are the real Americans who strive and work and pray and hope against all hopes to do what they can do and to do what is right. No one also, I must say, catches that little side glance like  Angela can, and the way a black woman can decide not to acknowledge someone when they speak. The way a man can smack his lips and say "Oh, I love a womans minsitry" and have that special double entendre. In short this a writer whose style and grace and spunk and heart but most importantly her absolute intellect in her vision of telling a story about this invisible America makes her one that I believe that everyone should read. –ZZ Packer


Angela Flournoy reads at the 2015 NBF 5 Under 35 Celebration

Angela Flournoy reads at the 2015 National Book Awards Finalists Reading

Q&A with the 2015 NBF 5 Under 35 Honorees