The Last Queen of the Gypsies

A Novel

Title Details

Pages: 320

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 11/01/2010

ISBN: 9-781-5883-8242-9

List Price: $27.95


Pub Date: 11/01/2010

ISBN: 9-781-6030-6062-2

List Price: $9.99


NewSouth Books

Related Subjects

FICTION / General

The Last Queen of the Gypsies

A Novel

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  • Description
  • Reviews

William Cobb's first novel in nine years is a brilliant, quirky, highly readable story as compelling as it is original. Its main characters journey on parallel quests: Lester Ray, a fourteen-year-old boy who was deserted by his mother when he was a baby and has now escaped his abusive alcoholic father, and Minnie, a woman who was abandoned by her Gypsy family of migrant fruit pickers when she was eleven.

The novel interweaves their searches for families they never really knew. It ranges from the Great Depression to the mid-1960s, and from the panhandle of Florida, where much of the novel is set, to New York City during World War II, to the Georgia and Carolina coasts, to Fort Myers and south Florida.

Lester Ray finds work with a carnival as he looks for his mother, accompanied by all the odd and strange and wonderful people who make up that world. Minnie moves from the dry sandy heat of central Florida in 1933, to a brothel in Cedar Key, to New York, to the little town of Piper, to the winter camps of the Gypsies near Fort Myers. She is—first as a girl, then as a woman—a person of immense fortitude and strength, as engaging and unforgettable as Scarlett O'Hara.

William Cobb's new book will break your heart and make you laugh at the same time. With a large and lively cast of characters that includes, no fooling, a dwarf named Virgin Mary Duck, The Last Queen of the Gypsies will enthrall you with its clear prose, its precise detail, its insight into human nature—Gypsy or not. One of my favorite things about the book is its unwinding landscape, both North and South, showing a world as richly imagined as any I've seen in recent fiction. Mr. Cobb's A Walk Through Fire and subsequent novels established him as one of the South's premier voices, and here he is with a new book that is as strong as ever. Stronger.

—Tom Franklin, author of Hell at the Breech and Smonk

The novel is fresh and original while still conveying an air of classic Southern literature that transcends its region.

—Ann Marie Martin, Huntsville Times

In 2007, Cobb won the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Fiction Writing, and like many Southern writers who came before him, your brain is pounded by his imagery. [Characters Minnie and Lester Ray] are very human with all the frailty and faults that we either inherit from our blood parents or learn through experience. [Cobb’s] novel replicates much of the gypsy familia and language, which reflects great instincts for research before writing such a demanding novel.

—Charlee Harris, The Anniston Star

An engaging book that explores the largely unknown Gypsy culture.

—Lyn Miller-Lachman, Multicultural Review

William Cobb’s latest novel, The Last Queen of the Gypsies, is a terrific story about two wanderers . . . The novel is hilariously funny yet sometimes very sad, raunchy at times yet wholesome in its search for family and community, about love but also about cruelty and murder, full of delicious detail yet fast-paced and impossible to put down. The Last Queen of the Gypsies is a wonderfully complex novel about life in all its richness.

—John Hafner, Alabama Writers’ Forum

The Last Queen provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of North American Romany Gypsies. William Cobb masterfully parallels the stories of Minnie and Lester Ray, and the various colorful characters they meet along the way ... in a story of love and loss, hope and despair, and the resilience of the human spirit. Readers interested in the early and mid-twentieth-century South and character-driven novels will enjoy Cobb's moving story of two lonely people searching for their roots.

—ForeWord Magazine

The yellow brick road meets Tobacco Road in this brave, carnivalesque journey into the South of our dreams and nightmares.

—Jack Pendarvis, author of The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure

The Last Queen of the Gypsies is William Cobb's most compelling novel. While the action throughout is fast-paced, Cobb skillfully develops a number of complex characters, starting with an abandoned little girl whose courage and determination to survive will win any reader's heart. Hilarious, poignant, brutal by turns, the novel opens a window on the fascinating world of North American Romany Gypsies and on authentic, small-town Southern life in the thirties and sixties. This was a novel I could not put down.

—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife and Adam & Eve

The Last Queen of the Gypsies is a wonderful read. Word for word, chapter by chapter, this book will draw you in and keep you reading until the very end.

—ARTS in Alabama Magazine

The Last Queen of the Gypsies is memorable because, at heart, the writer's bizarre, endearing characters exemplify the best of humanity.

—Louisville Courier-Journal

About the Author/Editor

WILLIAM COBB has written six critically acclaimed novels: Coming of Age at the Y, The Hermit King, A Walk Through Fire, Harry Reunited, A Spring of Souls and Wings of Morning. His collection of short stories is Somewhere in All This Green. He was writer-in-residence at the University of Montevallo and was the 2007 winner of the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished fiction writing.