Kevin Powers, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, has written a powerful novel spanning over 100 years in rural Virginia. A Shout in the Ruins is actually two stories with the character George Seldom holding them both together. It is the 1950’s and George, a light-skinned Black man over ninety years old, is ready to die, but first he wants to return to the town he came to when he was three years old. The second story is about George’s life before he is three year old when slavery was the way of life in Virginia.
Going back and forth in time is a bit confusing until the reader can grasp who all the main characters are. However, that is its only flaw. For the most part, A Shout in the Ruins is an intense, riveting, sometimes violent depiction of The Civil War and its repercussions almost a century later.