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Winner of the Orange Prize


"This fresh, unsentimental look at what slave-owning does to (and for) one's interior life must be a first. The writing-so prised and clean limbed-is a marvel."
—Toni Morrison


"Chilling…disturbing…intriguing. A compelling contest of wills between two women…against a chaotic backdrop of black night and leaping torchlight."
—The New York Times


"Sharply observer…. A strikingly unsentimental voice…. In fewer than 200 pages, Martin is able to summon up historical landscapes her readers have never seen."


"Quietly devastating…. Shows a dimension of American slavery that nonfiction could not get across…. A work of sustained irony…. As chilly and arresting a picture of slavery as you'll find anywhere."
—The Boston Globe


"It is possible that we have never heard a voice like this before… a timeless, chilling voice, eerily like the voice of the German people after the Holocaust… [With it] Valerie Martin opens a window on that evil of human nature that makes one group of people less than another."
—Winston-Salem Journal


"So riveting that once you start reading this slender novel, it's unlikely you'll put it down. A bitter, mesmerizing account of the caustic costs of slavery."
—Detroit Free Press


"Confirms that Martin is a vibrant force in American fiction… Martin uncovers the violent nature of slavery, ownership and property."
—The New Orleans Times-Picayune


"A ferociously honest book [on] a subject long wrapped in 'lies without end': race in America…. Manon is a shadow sister to Scarlett O'Hara, offering [us] the unvarnished voice of her time…. [This is] fiction that can remake the way we understand ourselves."


"Martin's explorations of character are unsparing as she reveals both Manon and Sarah in all their desperate humanity. A brave and riveting book."
—O, The Oprah Magazine


"The real achievement is that Martin leaves us wondering what 'peculiar institutions' we are embracing in our own world."
—The News & Observer


"Brilliant… chilling clarity…Property is historical fiction that is both literary and literal in that it poetically bares a truth."
—New York Daily News


"Vivid and gripping. I read it in one gulp."
—Marilyn French


"Martin's writing is graceful, controlled and precise…The breadth of Martin's interests are remarkable. She moves around flawlessly in time and space: nothing frightens her."
—Fay Weldon


"As chilling and satisfying as anything she has written. . . . A fierce and uncompromising book, a bracing and cathartic work of art."
—Chicago Tribune

"In this stunningly powerful novel, Valerie Martin's gifts-a fearless originality and seemingly limitless perspective combined with a cool and elegant intelligence-are all on splendid display."
—Barbara Gowdy


"A wonderful novel, vivid, revealing."
—Carol Shields


"[Property] is a brilliant, chillingly revelatory piece of fiction, a work of craft, economy and such good merciless observation-one of those rare, crucial novels illuminating a history we think we know and understand so that after we've read it we'll never forget its truths."
—Ali Smith


"Tightly constructed [and] suspenseful. . . . Manon is a vividly presented voice, precociously cynical, mordantly amusing, despairing. . . . A subtly cadenced novel of racial and sexual transgressions."
—The New York Review of Books


"Fraught with tension, desperation, and rage, all masterfully sustained. . . . An unflinching depiction of our nation's most shameful historical chapter."
—Los Angeles Times


"Compelling. . . . A painful yet elegant study of . . . the authority of the mighty over the deprived. . . . Astonishing."
—The Washington Post


"Quick-paced and absorbing . . . chilling, understated and brilliant."
—The Miami Herald


"A fascinating little gem of darkness."
—San Francisco Chronicle