News & Media
Literary Swag Book Club
Ancestor Trouble was the March 2023 selection for Yahdon Israel’s Literary Swag Book Club.
Criticism at Book World
Newton reviewed Rachel Jamison Webster’s first book, Benjamin Banneker and Us: Eleven Generations of an American Family, for the Washington Post Book World.
NBCC John Leonard Prize Finalist
Members of the National Book Critics Circle chose Ancestor Trouble as one of seven finalists, and the only nonfiction book, for the 2023 John Leonard Prize for the best first book in any genre.
A Best Book of 2022
Ancestor Trouble was named a best book of 2022 by The New Yorker, NPR, The Washington Post, Time, The Boston Globe, Esquire, Garden & Gun, Entertainment Weekly, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Chicago Tribune.
Ada Ferrer’s reading
In the WSJ’s year-end reading section, Ada Ferrer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cuba, calls Ancestor Trouble “a fascinating and wide-ranging meditation on how and why the stories of our own dead matter.”
New York Times Magazine Letter of Recommendation
Newton wrote a letter of recommendation for “y’all,” the most inclusive pronoun, in the New York Times Magazine.
New York Times Book Review
“Extraordinary and wide-ranging . . . a literary feat that simultaneously builds and excavates identity.” Kerri Arsenault praised Ancestor Trouble in the New York Times Book Review. On the book review podcast, Newton talked with editor John Williams. Ancestor Trouble was also an Editors’ Choice pick.
NPR’s All Things Considered
Newton spoke with Ari Shapiro about Ancestor Trouble for All Things Considered. NPR also included the book among its Books We Love 2022. And reviewer Kristen Martin praised Newton’s critical eye.
Guardian US Opinion Piece
Newton wrote for The Guardian US about the importance and power of acknowledging the wrongs of individual ancestors who enslaved Black people.
Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club
Ancestor Trouble was Roxane Gay’s April 2022 book club selection.
Boston Globe Review
Writing for the Boston Globe, Lorraine Berry calls Ancestor Trouble a “brilliant mix of personal memoir and cultural observation” and “beautiful and complexly nuanced,” with “memoir parts [that] read like a suspense novel.”
Esquire’s Best Books
Esquire‘s Adrienne Westenfeld names Ancestor Trouble one of the best books of the year. The magazine also ran an extended first serial excerpt from the book.
Washington Post Book World
The Washington Post includes Ancestor Trouble among its recommended summer reads, calling the book “a kind of personal reconciliation project, boosted by lyrical writing and wide-ranging scholarship.” And in a review, Libby Copeland calls the book “a valuable and bracing portrait.”
Chicago Tribune’s Best Books
Including Ancestor Trouble among his best books of 2022, John Warner of Chicago Tribune’s Biblioracle says, “I think we’re going to look back on this book as a classic in the way it blends historical research, science, personal memoir and philosophy.”
Time Magazine Excerpt
Time featured an adapted excerpt on Newton’s mysterious great-great aunt and self-given namesake Maude Newton, who turned out to have been a writer, but not the kind Newton would have hoped.
Wall Street Journal Excerpt
“The stories we tell ourselves about our ancestors have the power to shape us, in some ways nearly as much as our genetics do.” The Wall Street Journal featured an excerpt from Ancestor Trouble.
New Republic Review
“Ancestor Trouble does what all truly great memoirs do: It takes an intensely personal… story and uses it to frame larger, more complex questions about how identity is formed,” Colin Dickey writes at New Republic.
Interview with Ali Muldrow
Ali Muldrow of WORT’s A Public Affair interviewed Newton about reckoning with family history.
Dallas Morning News Q&A
Writer Shawna Seed talked with Newton for the Dallas Morning News about Newton’s book and family history, and “the pull of her Texan roots.”
WYPR’s The Weekly Reader
Marion Winik of WYPR’s The Weekly Reader recommends Ancestor Trouble and All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days as memoirs “distilled from fragments and legends of past generations.”
Los Angeles Times Books Reception
Recommending the book for the Los Angeles Times, Bethanne Patrick praises Ancestor Trouble’s “fluid, thoughtful prose about family and falsehoods.” And in a mixed review for the publication, Mary Ann Gwinn calls Newton “a logical thinker and a hyperacute observer, with a prodigious memory and a lacerating honesty… a transparent and at times lyrical writer.”
Vanity Fair’s 7 Books We Couldn’t Put Down
Keziah Weir includes Ancestor Trouble among the books recommended by Vanity Fair staff in April and also recommends the book in her May column, alongside Itabari Njeri’s 1990 classic Every Good-Bye Ain’t Gone.
New York Times Critics’ and Editors’ Recommendations
In the New York Times‘ list of anticipated March books, Joumana Khatib leads with Ancestor Trouble, noting that Newton “touches on intergenerational trauma, mental illness, the influence of religion and more.” Amanda Hess, critic-at-large on the New York Times culture desk, also recommended the book. And Sam Sifton gave Ancestor Trouble a nice mention in his cooking newsletter.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Review
Writing for the AJC, Jeff Calder calls Ancestor Trouble “captivating,” and says the book is distinguished by “wide learning and roving speculation.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune Review
Reviewing for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Katherine A. Powers judges Ancestor Trouble a “passionate memoir and investigation of inheritance and bloodlines” and a “fascinating, well written book,” in a mixed review.
“At a moment of reckoning over America’s violent history, [Ancestor Trouble] is a salutary call for an ‘acknowledgment genealogy’ of the harms that are hidden in many family trees,” Alix Christie writes, in a review for the Economist.
Identity Theory Feature
Surya Hendry talked with Newton for Identity Theory, discussing data weaponization, spiritual approaches to ancestors, and more.
Los Angeles Review of Books Praise
Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Lesley Heiser cites the “beauty, poignancy, and power” of Ancestor Trouble.
Daily Beast Interview
Matt Hanson profiled Newton for The Daily Beast, citing the book’s deep research and characterizing Ancestor Trouble as “a sprawling and lively family saga.”
Starred Kirkus Review
In a starred review of Ancestor Trouble, Kirkus’ reviewer called the book “Exhaustively researched, engagingly presented, and glowing with intelligence and honesty.” Kirkus listed also Ancestor Trouble as one of “13 Books With Word-of-Mouth Buzz.”
BookPage Profile and Starred Review
“Making it personal is the most powerful force we have for change.” Harvey Freedenberg profiled Newton for BookPage and also gave the book a starred review, calling Ancestor Trouble a “revealing family memoir with a well-researched and thoughtful exploration of heredity and genealogy.”
For Shondaland, Sarah Neilson interviewed Newton and says her “discoveries and reckonings with her family history serve as a doorway into a vast and beautifully reported story.”
“Newton’s book feels painfully relevant.” Ancestor Trouble makes Wired’s list of books to read this summer.
Bust’s Recommended Feminist Titles
Chiara Atoyebi calls Ancestor Trouble “an engaging memoir about the quest for truth and the unanswered questions buried deep within [Newton’s] own ancestry,” in Bust magazine.
Bitter Southerner’s Summer Reads
Bitter Southerner’s Alison Law recommends Ancestor Trouble as an ideal summer book for “readers who have bought a DNA ancestry kit or wondered if those tidbits of family folklore were really true.”
Conversation with Bloom
Bloom’s Lisa Peet interviewed Newton about ancestors, imaginative spirituality, and old-school blogging.
Dame Magazine Interview
Writer and critic Jessie Daniels talked with Newton for Dame Magazine about how white people can reckon with their racist family histories.
Literary Hub Conversation
“An Open Heart, Armor Down“: Newton spoke with fellow writer Ann Leary (The Foundling) as a supplement to their earlier conversation at the Center for Fiction on echoes of the past.
WNYC’s All of It
Newton appeared on WNYC’s All of It to discuss reckoning with the actions of ancestors.
Vulture’s Best New Releases
For New York Magazine’s Vulture, Emma Alpern includes Ancestor Trouble among the best new and upcoming releases in March.
New Yorker Consideration
At The New Yorker, Maya Jasanoff considers Ancestor Trouble as a jumping-off point for — and throughout — her criticism of current and past approaches to ancestors and genealogy.
Steban Rondon, a student at Miami’s Florida International University, profiled Newton for the South Florida Media Network.
Leslie Lindsay interviewed Newton for Hippocampus Magazine, calling Ancestor Trouble “an extraordinary deep dive into the author’s family tree” while praising the book’s “historical and scientific relevance.”
In a positive review for The Baffler, Matt Hanson contends that Ancestor Trouble “isn’t so much about Newton chopping down her family tree as climbing as far up into it as she can, plucking some of the rotten fruit and clearing out some of the overgrown brush.”
Books with Ties to Fort Worth
Writing for FTW Today, Sarah Leonhardt includes Ancestor Trouble among five “summer reads by authors with ties to Fort Worth + the state of Texas.”
BookPage Writers to Watch
“Newton is a master at taking a complex, far-reaching topic and making it magnificently intimate.” BookPage names Newton one of “13 Writers to Watch in 2022.”
The Observer’s Memoirs to Ring in the Spring
“With the rigor of a historian and the voice of a mystery writer, Newton pulls the reader into a philosophical exploration of trauma and heritage… that brings to bear America’s original sins and the bonds that endure despite all manner of wrenching tests.” The Observer’s Lauren LeBlanc chooses Ancestor Trouble as one of the best memoirs to ring in the spring.
CNN’s March Books Recommendations
CNN includes Ancestor Trouble among their anticipated March books.
Poets and Writers’ Ten Questions
Newton answered Poets & Writers’ “Ten Questions.”
Interview with The Rumpus
Newton spoke with The Rumpus’ Liz Button about “the intoxicating pull of discovering our forebears’ secrets, and how connecting with our ancestors can help us reckon with our country’s difficult past.”
“I found her journey to discover who she is and where she came from fascinating,” writes Penny Parish of Ancestor Trouble in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.
National Book Review Recommendation
Adam Cohen of the National Book Review calls Ancestor Trouble “a wise and compassionate book.”
Anticipation for Ancestor Trouble
The Millions, Lit Hub, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, the Chicago Review of Books, Deep South Magazine, the Southern Review of Books, Apartment Therapy, and Goodreads readers were anticipating Ancestor Trouble in March/April.
Apple Books Pick
Ancestor Trouble was an Apple Books pick for April.
Amazon Editors’ Pick
Amazon editors recommended Ancestor Trouble as one of the “best biographies and memoirs” in April.
Jeanna Kadlec Interview
Newton discussed Ancestor Trouble with Jeanna Kadlec for Kadlec’s Astrology for Writers newsletter.
Nice Booklist Review
Booklist’s reviewer praises Newton’s “Sherlockian verve and an academician’s tenacity” and concludes that she “is just looking for some peace of mind, and her approach may help others realize what a worthy goal that is.”
Esquire’s Most Anticipated Books
Esquire calls Ancestor Trouble “riveting” and praises the book’s blend of memoir and cultural criticism.
Oprah Daily’s 50 Most Anticipated Books
Oprah Daily includes Ancestor Trouble on their list of books most anticipated in the year to come—at #5. “[A] powerful debut,” they say.
BookPage’s Most Anticipated Books
“We suspect that the hype for this one is real, and then some,” BookPage says.
Time’s 21 Most Anticipated Books
Ancestor Trouble made TIME’s list of the twenty-one most anticipated books of 2022.
Publishers Weekly Review
An admiring Publishers Weekly review of Ancestor Trouble says, “Newton debuts with a masterful mix of memoir and cultural criticism that wrestles with America’s ancestry through her own family’s complex past. . . . The result is a transfixing meditation on the inextricable ways the past informs the present.”
Praise from Library Journal
Library Journal judges Ancestor Trouble “engaging and thoroughly researched,” recommending it for fans of “memoirs, family secrets, genealogy, and the sociological makeup threading U.S. history.”
Interviewed at Bitter Southerner’s Salvation South Project
Carolyn Kellogg interviewed Newton about Ancestor Trouble.
Books Are Magic Most Anticipated Books of Winter and Spring 2022
Brooklyn bookseller Colleen of Books Are Magic includes Ancestor Trouble among the bookstore’s most anticipated 2022 books and calls the premise “fascinating.”
The Millions’ 2022 Preview
“An unflinching exploration into the history of a troubled family tree and the universal but also peculiarly American need to discover ‘roots,’” The Millions calls Ancestor Trouble.
Literary Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2022
Literary Hub includes Ancestor Trouble among the site’s most-anticipated, and Eliza Smith calls the book an “intricately researched account of the most universal subject.”
Thrillist’s Winter and Spring 2022 Book Picks
Thrillist features Ancestor Trouble among 27 book picks for the winter and spring. “Veteran magazine journalist Maud Newton grew up in a fundamentalist household, with an ancestry that involved murder, mental institutions, Puritan-era witches, the Great Depression, and a lot of rescue cats,” says Matthew Jacobs. “Newton’s debut book is a memoir that traces her genealogy as a way of using history to explore the present.”
Goodreads Members’ Most Anticipated Books of 2022
Ancestor Trouble is listed as one of Goodreads members’ most anticipated books of 2022.
The Week’s 2022 Picks
The Week’s books to read in 2022 include Ancestor Trouble.
Literary Hub’s Books Writers Loved in 2021
For Literary Hub, Alexander Chee writes, “at this very moment, I’m riveted by Maud Newton’s forthcoming nonfiction book Ancestor Trouble, on what she discovered about white supremacy while examining her family’s legends.” On Twitter he later compared the book to “following a lit fuse through the dark.”
She Reads’ Book Club Picks
Ancestor Trouble is included among She Reads’ 2002 Book Club Picks.
Publishers Weekly Feature
In an Open Book installment for Publishers Weekly, featuring Maud, her agent Julie Barer, and her editor Andrea Walker, Louisa Ermelino calls Ancestor Trouble “a marvel: absorbing, addictive, informative.”
Advance Praise in Boston Globe
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, author of The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois and The Age of Phillis offered praise for Ancestor Trouble in The Boston Globe while in the process of reading a galley of the book. “Fantastic…. well researched, well written, and juicy,” she called it. “I love a good juicy historical book.”
Thanks to Bookforum for noting the upcoming publication of Ancestor Trouble (next March).
Lit Hub unveiled the cover of Ancestor Trouble (March 29, 2022), along with some insights from designer Rachel Ake and from Maud.
Thank you to Lorissa Shepstone and the rest of the Being Wicked team for a gorgeous new website, the first complete redesign since 2002.
In the past, Maud’s essays and fiction have been praised by the New York Times, the New Yorker online, Elle, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, the Paris Review online, and others.