Category Archives: Sayles, John

John Sayles. A Moment in the Sun. San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2011.

This big book takes readers back to the America of the late nineteenth century with all of that period’s optimism, adventurism, technological progress–and its imperialism and racism.  Part of the story takes place in Wilmington, North Carolina where two families–one white, one African American–experience both imperialism and racism in very different ways.  The Manigaults, a powerful white family, resent the changes that the Confederate defeat brought.  The family patriarch, Judge Cornelius Manigault, values his honor and disdains the rabble who are organizing to take back the state for the white man.  Still, in the end the Judge joins forces with the men who are plotting to suppress the African American vote on election day, only to be surprised by the violence that follows.  Dr. Lunceford is the patriarch of an African American family who has made a comfortable place for himself and his family.  Feeling part of this country and yet eager to see the wider world, his son Junior volunteers to fight for America in Cuba.  Neither patriotism nor a life of honor and service will protect the Luncefords; their community in Wilmington will be destroyed.  The Luncefords head north, to New York, and a life of struggle. The judge’s son, Niles, Junior Lunceford, and Junior’s good friend Royal Scott will cross paths in the Philippines;  not all of them will return.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

Click here to see documentary material on the election of 1898 in North Carolina.


Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Sayles, John