“Take this to keep the monkey off your back—‘cause being grown is more than a notion.”

As readers will discover in PEACH SEED MONKEY, an upcoming literary novel by Anita Gail Jones, the catchphrase above has ushered boys into manhood for generations in the family of widower Fletcher Dukes, a seventy-year-old black man living in southwest Georgia. In each rite-of-passage, those words accompany a monkey, intricately carved from a peach seed. Through many lines—from the lost trail in Africa, to antebellum to modern-day—much changes. And too much remains the same.

Fletcher is distracted from a family feud when blues singer Altovise Benson—the plucky lost love of his life—unexpectedly retires home after 52 years. As teens they worked in the Albany Civil Rights Movement until separated by horrific events. He remained local; she migrated north.

In this southern American tale, many voices convey complexities of the place and people, but at the heart of the story two people battle the consequences of history’s sweep and personal choice. Much is laid bare when a fateful secret finds its way home through the Dukes family talisman ~ a peach seed monkey.