The Travelers: A Novel
Porter is a playwright, hence the extensive cast list on the first page of her debut novel. With a theatrical sensibility and a knack for dialogue, she brings a huge cast of friends and family to life. Follow the lives and loves of an Irish American family and an African American family as their histories intersect in a beautiful exploration of identity and place. Traveling across continents and centuries, these interweaving stories come together as you acclimate to the book's unique structure.
“American history comes to vivid, engaging life in this tale of two interconnected families (one white, one black) that spans from the 1950s to Barack Obama’s first year as president. . . . The complex, beautifully drawn characters are unique and indelible.”—Entertainment Weekly
“An astoundingly audacious debut.”—O: The Oprah Magazine • “A gorgeous generational saga.”—New York Post
Meet James Samuel Vincent, an affluent Manhattan attorney who shirks his modest Irish American background but hews to his father’s meandering ways. James muddles through a topsy-turvy relationship with his son, Rufus, which is further complicated when Rufus marries Claudia Christie.
Claudia’s mother—Agnes Miller Christie—is a beautiful African American woman who survives a chance encounter on a Georgia road that propels her into a new life in the Bronx. Soon after, her husband, Eddie Christie, is called to duty on an air craft carrier in Vietnam, where Tom Stoppard’s play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” becomes Eddie’s life anchor, as he grapples with mounting racial tensions on the ship and counts the days until he will see Agnes again.
These unforgettable characters’ lives intersect with a cast of lovers and friends—the unapologetic black lesbian who finds her groove in 1970s Berlin; a moving man stranded in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, during a Thanksgiving storm; two half-brothers who meet as adults in a crayon factory; and a Coney Island waitress whose Prince Charming is too good to be true.
With piercing humor, exacting dialogue, and a beautiful sense of place, Regina Porter’s debut is both an intimate family portrait and a sweeping exploration of what it means to be American today.
Praise for The Travelers
“[A] kaleidoscopic début . . . Porter deftly skips back and forth through the decades, sometimes summarizing a life in a few paragraphs, sometimes spending pages on one conversation. As one character observes, ‘We move in circles in this life.’” —The New Yorker
“In this innovative and deeply moving debut, Regina Porter has mastered the kind of alchemy found in a great painting by Poussin: her canvas is vast, her subject ambitious, yet her execution is so brilliantly devoted to particulars that it creates a miraculous intimacy. The beauty of this book lies in how Porter’s characters, through resilience and community, art and creative love, cut new doors out of the corners they’ve been backed into by history.”—Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You