The Chosen Place, The Timeless People by Paule Marshall
[Kilauea Sugar Plantation Railway – Laborer’s Train: Wikimedia Commons]
Some 78 percent of reviewers on GoodReads gave Paule Marshall’s The Chosen Place, the Timeless People 4or 5 stars. First published in 1969, it was critically acclaimed at the time, but today it seems to be nearly out of print (I was able to find a British edition online; my local bookstores say that ordering is complicated and arrival times are uncertain.) But it is likely easy to find at your public library.
Many of those who wrote reviews on GoodReads called The Chosen Place, The Timeless People their favorite or one of their favorite novels. A small minority however, found it hard going. The wide cast of characters from a variety of backgrounds offer the depth and complexity of a 19th-century novel, yet it is very much a novel of its time in its concern for the effects of colonialism, capitalism, and racism on the lives of its characters. I offer a fuller review of the novel here at Literary Ladies Guide. Marshall herself, a protege of Langston Hughes, was a fascinating figure. Best known for her first novel, Brown Girl, Brownstones, you can read my short biographical essay about her here.