Coleman Hill

Kim Coleman Foote

“Once in a while, a writer comes along with a brilliance that stops the breath. Kim Coleman Foote is that writer.

- Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Red at the Bone

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • Shortlisted for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Debut Author • Shortlisted for the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction

Coleman Hill is the exhilarating story of two American families whose fates become intertwined in the wake of the Great Migration. Braiding fact and fiction, it is a remarkable, character-rich tour de force exploring the ties that bind three generations. 





Page count




Sale date

September 5, 2023


6 x 9

About the Book

In 1916, during the early days of the Great Migration, Celia Coleman and Lucy Grimes flee the racism and poverty of their homes in the post–Civil War South for the “Promised Land” of Vauxhall, New Jersey. But the North possesses its own challenges and bigotries that will shape the fates of the women and their families over the next seventy years. Told through the voices of nine family members—their perspectives at once harmonious and contradictory—Coleman Hill is a penetrating multigenerational debut.

Within ten years of arriving in Vauxhall, both Celia and Lucy’s husbands are dead, and they turn to one another for support in raising their children far from home. Lucy’s gentleness sets Celia at ease, and Celia lends Lucy her fire when her friend wants to cower. Encouraged by their mothers’ friendship, their children’s lives become enmeshed as well. As the children grow into adolescence, two are caught in an impulsive act of impropriety, and Celia and Lucy find themselves at irreconcilable odds over who’s to blame. The ensuing fallout has dire consequences that reverberate through the next two generations of their families.


A stunning biomythography—a word coined by the late great writer Audre Lorde—Coleman Hill draws from the author’s own family legend, historical record, and fervent imagination to create an unforgettable new history. The result is a kaleidoscopic novel whose intergenerational arc emerges through a series of miniatures that contain worlds.


Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • Shortlisted for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Debut Author • Shortlisted for the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction


A Washington Post Noteworthy Book for September • A Good Morning America Spectacular Book of the Month • A Christian Science Monitor Good Summer Reading Pick • A The Root Books By Black Authors We Can’t Wait to Read • A The Millions Most Anticipated Book • A Tertulia Best Indie Publisher Book of 2023 • A Debutiful Debut Books to Read in September • A Chicago Tribune Top Pick for Reading Season • A Boston Herald Top Pick for Fall 2023


Coleman Hill reveals, with extraordinary depth, the journey of two families from the South to North, and their interwoven stories of pain, loss, and triumph. Pushing the narrative boundaries of fiction and family memoir, Kim Coleman Foote writes in the tradition of “biomythography,” a word coined by the late American poet and essayist Audre Lorde. Yet Kim Coleman Foote also claims new literary territory for how to piece together the fragments of the past. Formally inventive and emotionally captivating, this brilliant accomplishment will take its place among the best of its generation.”

- Carol Shields Prize for Fiction Jury, 2024


- Becky Meloan, Washington Post

“Once in a while, a writer comes along with a brilliance that stops the breath. Kim Coleman Foote is that writer.

- Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Red at the Bone


- Good Morning America

“Striking . . . A chorus of nine voices narrates this richly layered multigenerational tale. . . . [A] memorable saga that graciously captures the baton of African American family fiction from Ralph Ellison and Alex Haley.”

- Booklist

“Puts me in the mind of a Zora Neale Hurston novel.”

- Ira Porter, Christian Science Monitor

A masterpiece. Brilliant, vivid, heartbreaking, epic, beautiful, raw and true…This is the American story.”

- Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less Is Lost

“A meaningful deep dive into family and power, love and survival.”

- Shannon Gibney, Star Tribune

“A beautiful multigenerational novel.”

- The Root

“In Coleman Hill, Kim Coleman Foote crafts a mosaic of vibrant characters struggling to overcome generational curses. In doing so, she creates a novel that, though heartbreaking at times, is filled with family drama so urgent and riveting that it’s hard to put down.”

- Maisy Card, American Book Award-winning author of These Ghosts are Family

“As though lit by the spirit of Audre Lorde, Kim Coleman Foote’s Coleman Hill is a furnace, incandescent with characters who flare and burn, reflecting and refracting the complex ways collective trauma ripples down through the generations. Rare is a writer who bears witness to an intimate national history of violence with an unflinching eye so full of understanding. Coleman Hill is a masterful, singular debut. I loved this book.”

- Asako Serizawa, author of Inheritors

“In this sweeping and astonishing debut, Kim Coleman Foote explores complex questions of legacy and inheritance, reckoning frankly with the violence that has followed the Coleman family from slavery through emancipation and the Great Migration, but holding space for the resilience, storytelling, and second acts that also compose the family history. Coleman Hill is a gorgeous collage of history, memory, and imagination.”

- Danielle Evans, author of The Office of Historical Corrections

“Remarkable . . . Three generations come to life in poignant, beautifully rendered scenes. . . . a polyvocal symphony.”

- Laura Sackton, Bookpage

“This stunning debut stitches together a rich, layered narrative of two connected and conflicted African American families. These people endure misfortunes from one generation to the next, their lives offering heartfelt testimony to our ability as Black people in this country to make a way out of no way.”

- Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Fat Time and Other Stories

Coleman Hill is a riveting two-family epic with a chorus of unforgettable voices, equal parts haunting and illuminating. They are mothers and daughters, lovers and friends, all bearing the weight of the Great Migration Promised Land’s broken promises over several generations. For those of us who grew up hearing (or suffering through) the adage, ‘Mothers love their sons and raise their daughters,’ Coleman Hill boldly and tenderly tells us why.”

- Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

“At once intimate and panoramic, Coleman Hill is the stunning, tapestried story of the interweaving of two families through seven decades of American history. Kim Coleman Foote has the rare talent of completely immersing you in time and place in this extraordinary debut.”

- Sarah Jessica Parker, SJP Lit

“Gripping, poetic, and with a big heart, it’s a memorable work of grim determination and surprising optimism.”

- Publishers Weekly, starred review

Coleman Hill feels like we are in the living room as recipients of the most vital family lore. It is top-rate storytelling from the source’s tongue. Bluesy, wholesome, and soulful. Archival and fabulistic. Trysts, triumphs, and triangles that weave together in a fine piece of patch work mirroring the story of America itself. By the end of it, Vauxhall becomes as haloed a landscape as Winesburg, Ohio. This book will beckon you with writing so profoundly heavy that it may very well just tip itself off the shelf into your hands.”

- Sidik Fofana, author of Stories from the Tenants Downstairs

SJP Lit Book Club

Discussion Guide

The Coleman Hill Book Club Starter Kit is available for your next book club discussion!