Culture & Criticism Since 2003
“I had seen racist crimes against my father and grandfather, but I had never experienced it firsthand. Not like this. Taken. Stolen. Tainted by the evil that surrounded me…”
Celeste Norfleet’s One Night In Georgia has been on the receiving end of significant acclaim over the past few months – and with good reason. The novel proves ground-breaking on several levels, giving the classic “road story” a brand new sheen and vibrant female voice. In the book, set in 1968, we meet three New York City college girls — Zelda Livingston, Veronica Cook, and Daphne Brooks — out for a last ride before adulthood. As such, they take off for Atlanta and their senior year at Spelman. In essence, their trip is part adventure and part escape, the three friends running from the plague of violence that just took the lives of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the three running from the east coast race riots that were extending all the way to L.A. and Oakland. As the miles roll by, the women share many secrets and confront many demons – some out on the highway, and some buried secretly in their collective consciousness. At first glance, one might initially dismiss One Night In Georgia as just another fictionalized account of the effect the tumult of the 1960s had on the burgeoning youth. And that would be a grave mistake, and a gross injustice leveled against a profound piece of literature. Instead, readers would be wise to view this novel against the prism of their own lives. Much like Jack Kerouac’s ultimate travelogue, On the Road, the point of the story is broad: this novel is about gaining awareness of how the government shapes the society and how the culture shapes the individual. In turn, we’re left to wage war, trying to retain some semblance of our birth-identity in a world that strives to strip that from us. In the end, One Night In Georgia is about the journey to rediscover the heart that God gave you, as Celeste Norfleet documents the record of her own voyage via the rainbow of this beautiful narrative.