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At seventy-two, Johnny Ribkins shouldn’t have such problems: He’s got one week to come up with the money he stole from his mobster boss or it’s curtains for Johnny.

What may or may not be useful to Johnny as he flees is that he comes from an African-American family that has been gifted with talents that while not always useful, are talents nonetheless. Johnny’s father could see in the dark. His brother could scale walls. And Johnny himself can make precise maps of any space you name, whether he’s been there or not.

In the old days, the Ribkins family tried to apply their gifts to the civil rights effort, calling themselves the Justice Committee. But when their powers proved insufficient, the group fell apart. Johnny and his brother began using their talents for personal gain, staging a series of burglaries, each more daring than the last.

Fast forward a couple decades and Johnny’s on a race against the clock to dig up loot he’s stashed all over Florida.  His brother is gone, but he has an unexpected sidekick: his brother’s daughter, Eloise, who has a special talent of her own.

Inspired by W. E. B. Du Bois’s famous essay “The Talented Tenth” and fuelled by Ladee Hubbard’s marvelously original imagination, The Talented Ribkins is a big-hearted debut novel about race, class, politics, and the unique gifts that, while they may cause some problems from time to time, bind a family together.

Read an excerpt on Literary Hub

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Interview in The Guardian by Richard Lea:

Ladee Hubbard: 'There’s an official history of how things were – and there's the truth'

Thurs Sept 14

...“So much is left out of official narratives of history,” Hubbard explains, “and yet so much is retained through stories and oral histories.”


  • Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction 2018

  • Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence 2018

  • The Best Books of 2017 - Kirkus Reviews

  • An INDIE NEXT 2017 pick

  • Winner of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award

  • Winner of the William Faulkner - William Wisdom Prize