Reviews from critics
Canadian journalist STEPHEN KIMBER's debut novel, Reparations ($19.95) is a hard-hitting and complex affair. This is a novel that pulls no punches and effectively weaves a tale with not only a crime at its core, but also a clever and fluid history of Africville, Nova Scotia, and the expropriation of African-Nova Scotian's waterfront land. Kimber pulls this off by following the lives of two characters from boyhood friends to men passionately fighting very different political battles. Ward Justice is an ostracized fisherman who rose to political prominence in the 1970s and went on to become a provincial court judge. His boyhood friend Raymond Carter (who changed his name to Uhuru Melesse) is a former black activist and has gone on to become a lawyer. Here's one of the twists: In their youth, Ward Justice and Raymond Carter fell in love with the same woman — the mother of a child found dead in the projects now inhabited by displaced Africville settlers. Reparations is a unique read. Along with the history and brilliant character studies of its two primary players, it's also a courtroom drama that pits Ward Justice and Ray Carter against each other. And the intricacies and outcome of the trial will, of course, not be revealed in this review. Pick up a copy of Reparations and see how it all plays out in this lively and detailed first novel."
Sleuth of Baker Street
Mystery bookstore, Toronto ON
July 2006 Newsletter
"A rollicking good read..." (more...)
Penticton Western News (British Columbia), June 30, 2006
"The story of how Halifax blacks were ousted from their homes in the 1960s is a horrific blight on the Canadian landscape, but Canadian writer Stephen Kimber has used this history as his springboard to craft a fascinating legal thriller… Reparations is a terrific read… He has a remarkable eye, and knows his way around a newsroom. Trust me on this, Kimber's observations about editors and the politics that govern what does and doesn't make it into the daily pages of the paper are bang on… If you have an interest in history, Reparations is a fascinating read. And even if you don't care a whit for history, it's a compelling piece of work.” (more...)
Montreal Gazette, June 3, 2006
"Well-researched and incredibly detailed, Reparations is a trip through Africville, past and present, that no one should miss. Kimber takes us to the heart of the community, into its church and into its people, and then up to the south end of Halifax with its money, politicians, and corruption. He uses the smaller-scale city of Halifax to show how small this world truly is, and how everyone's life affects another's. Reading Reparations is like walking down the main drag of a city and stopping in at every store along the way. Kimber presents the trial as that main drag and uses it to showcase the plethora of stories waiting for the reader at every step. The core storyline, although well-written and intriguing, is the least interesting part of the novel. The characters surrounding the trial are the show stealers, and the end leaves Kimber's audience wanting to continue following the saga that is Africville in the 21st century." (more...)
"This book joins an impressive list of recent first novels by Canadian authors who've written regional stories about places we haven't seen much of before… The novel is clearly the result of careful research into the racism, neglect and misunderstanding that doomed Africville -- as much during its existence as during its dismantling. To live in a slum but love it, to come from nowhere but still end up a somebody, to reside next door to people whom you envy but can never become, these are some of the complex issues -- all based on history -- that this novel grapples with." (more...)
Globe and Mail, May 26, 2006
"Stephen Kimber's first novel, Reparations, takes a bold step forward for Halifax fiction and Canadian literature in general by confronting the still unresolved issue of Africville's demise... Kimber delivers... by mixing intelligent social commentary, a grasp of Nova Scotia's recent and ongoing history, characters readers will care about, and suspenseful storytelling." (more...)
Quill & Quire, May 2006
"Reparations is a page-turning distillation of everything Kimber hasn’t been able to print for the past 35 years. He lays it all bare: not just the racism which was only a boil on the body politic but also the cancer of corruption beneath." (more...)
April 2, 2006
"Stephen Kimber has woven a difficult story about racism and power politics in Nova Scotia with exceptional skill and sensitivity. Reparations is an important literary voyage into a largely unexplored region of the Canadian experience. It reads as fiction, but resonates as history."
Linden MacIntyre, co-host of The Fifth Estate
"Canadians have waited too long for an energetic, ambitious, multi-layered novel about the historic black community of Africville in Halifax, but they need wait no longer. Stephen Kimber has delivered, big time. Reparations is an entertaining, provocative legal thriller about power and race relations in Nova Scotia. Reparations is like open-heart surgery: bold, outrageous, and dangerous. Told with insight and wit, Reparations resurrects one of Canada's most important but neglected stories - the life of a poor but vibrant black community in Halifax, and the social fallout resulting from its destruction."
Lawrence Hill, author of Any Known Blood
Reviews from readers
M. Parke (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reparations by Stephen Kimber
Rating: 4 Stars
This is a soon-to-be-published ARC. I haven't finished, but so far it's really good. Kimber is a fantastic storyteller. It takes place in Nova Scotia, Canada and is partly about a black community on the outskirts of Halifax in the '60s.
Reparations by Stephen Kimber
Rating: 5 Stars
This novel about the appropriation of land that belonged to the African Canadian community of Africville in Nova Scotia was a real page turner. I loved Kimber's fictionalized account of this historical event, which is not a stellar period in Nova Scotia's history. Kimber makes his characters believable and you get caught up in their lives. This is Kimber's first work of fiction and I look forward to his next book.
From BookCrossing "The world's biggest book club"
posted by gypsysmom
book rating: 8/10 stars
Reparations is a masterful account of the experiences of blacks in modern Nova Scotia. Kimber shows how pervasive racism was in the 1960’s and beyond but he also shows that success was possible for some in the black community. The black characters are believable because they have failings as well as virtues. As for the white characters in the book, they seem more universally venal. The head of the fishing company is particularly malevolent and his buddy who mentors Ward through law school and into politics is a nasty piece of work too. Ward is not evil per se but he is easily led and wants to please everyone. Mind you, by the end of the book, I admired him but only because he finally took a stand.
Race relations is the main theme of the book but additional information about the fishing industry, politics and the media certainly rounded out the book. Kimber deserves praise for dealing with many difficult issues and at the same time writing an interesting story.
posted by LazyDaisy0413Wings
book rating 9/10 stars
"There’s pretty much something for everyone in this book. There’s plenty of suspense, love, pride, political corruption and a 'can’t put the book down' climax... Reparations is a truly outstanding piece of work by an exceptional storyteller. I’d definitely recommend this book to others. I have another book by Kimber, Sailors, Slackers and Blind Pigs. I haven’t read it yet, but this one was so good, I’m going to have to read it soon."
From First Look
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Reparations is a first rate courtroom drama that delivers everything it promised and more. I enjoyed reading about race relations in Canada during the 60's and 70's. I found the friendship between Ray and Ward genuine... Secrets, politics and courtroom drama bring their story to a climatic ending that won't disappoint
--Mary Ellen (Brampton, ON)
This was such an amazing read. It had me hooked in the beginning and I couldn't put it down when I got within the last 100 pages - staying up into the wee hours. I enjoyed the complexity of the characters and how they flowed into each other. Stephen Kimber took some hard topics (racism, politics) and wrote about them with grace and style. I admired the research that Mr. Kimber did in order to write this book. My favorite part was the theme pertaining to race relations. This is surely a winner written by a winning author. My first book by this author but definitely not my last.
--Shelley (Abbotsford, BC)
An immensely satisfying read, I was drawn in from beginning to end. A riveting search for truth and justice in an atmosphere of political maneuverings and racial unrest, Stephen Kimber weaves a noble tale of two lives. A book I would recommend highly.
--Laura (Toronto, ON)
Bravo! This was an incredible read. Stephen Kimber can add story-teller to his list of accomplishments. The reader cannot help but both love and hate the main characters simultaneously. Kimber transports his audience back to a time of racial inequality that most Canadians believe existed only in the southern United States. However, despite all this the novels character Ward Justice re-affirms our faith in the human condition in his attempt to right the wrongs he has committed against his one time childhood friend Carter. In the final pages of the novel I believe a poignant message is put forth; in the end we all leave this world, this life the same way. Death, unlike man is objective.
--Anastasia (Thronhill, ON)
Reparations by Stephen Kimber is a great page turner! I thoroughly enjoyed his take of evacuation of Black Nova Scotians form Africville. I learned a great deal about this horrible time in Nova Scotia's history and its repercussions today. Kimber uses a fictional court trial in present day Nova Scoita to explore this period of history. I found the characters to be believable and they captured my heart. The twists and turns of the plot kept me reading and guessing. It is also a very interesting insight into Maritime politics of this era. I think that Mr. Kimber has captured the times and the people of Nova Scotia admirably!
--Donald (Saint John, NB)
This book was so interesting I could barely put it down. It really relates to humanity and how race and academic differences can pull a friendship apart. I really enjoyed reading something that could hit so close to home, not only geographically but also mentally. I would encourage anyone to read this book as a self help in showing how our blind nature and secretiveness can tear us and our family apart.
--Amanda (Saint John, NB)
ISBN: 0002005646; On Sale: 03/17/2006;
Format: Hardcover; Pages: 320; $19.95(CAN)
Copyright 2009 Stephen Kimber