The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part One: The Witnesses hit bookshelves in August and is the first of two landmark novels by Sharon Ewell Foster to change and challenge what America knows about Nat Turner published by Howard/ Simon & Schuster.
It is believed that Nat Turner led the only successful slave revolt in American history 180 years ago on August 22, 1831 in Virginia. The aftermath left over 50 whites and hundreds of Blacks dead. Turner was convicted and executed.
Part One: The Witnesses is a fact-based epic that discredits the primary historical source document on Nat Turner, The Confessions of Nat Turner, a pamphlet published in 1831 by Turner’s believedlawyer Thomas Gray—later turned into a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by William Styron. That document stated that Turner gave a confession of guilt to Gray, which was then read before the court.
Foster located the original handwritten trial transcripts, in which Turner, actually pled innocent and offered no confession. Gray was not mentioned in official court documents as Nat Turner’s attorney.
“What I found puts everything we believe about Nat Turner and what happened in the uprising in question. Burdened with the truth, I feel a responsibility to share what I found—both good and bad. We’ve been laboring under a 180-year-old lie. This is an American story and the truth needs to be told. We are all witnesses. Nat Turner deserves his day in court,” said Foster.
Through five years of research—including interviews with descendants of those killed, Turner’s family, friends and foes, and analysis of related trial transcripts—Foster creates a novel that spans more than sixty years, sweeping from the majestic highlands of Ethiopia to Southampton County, Virginia. It includes nonfictional accounts, such as excerpts from trial transcripts and from then Virginia Governor John Floyd’s original diary. Documented accounts are balanced with fictionalized perspectives based on recognized political and ethical views of historical figures such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Frederick Douglass.
In a recent review of Part One: The Witnesses, Publisher’s Weeklysays, Foster “writes vividly about faith and slavery in this fast-paced narrative. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, aims to clarify the accepted history of Nat Turner’s prosecution … the story is riveting and expertly told by an inspired, practiced storyteller.”
Foster describes Part One: The Witnesses as Roots meets The DaVinci Code.
Sharon Ewell Foster– a former Defense Department instructor, writer, analyst, and logistician, is the only African American to win the Christy Award for her historical novel, Passing by Samaria, also chosen as the NAACP Book of the Year in 2000. She is a speaker and author of seven previous books that have earned her a loyal following that crosses market, gender, and racial boundaries. Foster has been a contributor to Daily Guideposts for over 10 years.