Book of the Month: November 2015


The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Many times we are introduced to debut writers when they are recognized and listed for a prize. Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House is one of only five novels nominated for the National Book Award and we at Literary Affairs are glad that it was brought to our attention.

The Turner Family’s life has centered around their house on the East side of Detroit for over fifty years. With assured and mature writing Flournoy gives us the story of a family, the history of black migrants from the south that settled in Detroit, and an honest portrayal of mental illness and addiction and their impact on the African American family.

The Turner House is a wonderfully readable and discussable book that is about a specific family but will resonate for all families.


A powerful and 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.


Angela Flournoy is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Southern California. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, and she has written for The New Republic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications. She has taught writing at the University of Iowa and Trinity Washington University. She was raised by a mother from Los Angeles and a father from Detroit.

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