Beginning in the 1950s, The Travelers rapidly bounds back and forth through time, featuring pivotal moments in American history, from the civil rights movement to the Vietnam War to the first term of Obama’s presidency. With powerful and rich storytelling, Porter introduces to the reader two Americans and their families: James Samuel Vincent and Agnes Miller Christie. James Samuel Vincent, born is 1942, manages to escape his parents’ volatile marriage and his modest Irish American background. Agnes, a beautiful African American woman living in Buckner County, Georgia, also hopes for a bright future. While on a first date with a handsome suitor, Agnes encounters tragedy on a rural road when she and her date are pulled over by the police. This traumatic event throws into question Agnes’ future and spurs her move to a new life in the Bronx. James, Agnes, and their extended families are exquisitely rendered by Porter, who brings to life a cast of characters that includes a Vietnam Vet who can’t stand still, an unapologetic black lesbian who finds something like freedom in 1970s and 1980s Berlin, two half-brothers, on the cusp of middle age, who meet for the first time and struggle to make sense of their parents’ dalliances, and more. Building each story on the previous one, Porter adds a new layer of truth to the tumultuous history that binds these two extended families together.
The Travelers is a searing examination of the forces of race, class, and gender that push and pull Americans’ lives and how the lingering traumas of our nation’s chilling history reverberate through time.
Regina Porter is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. She is the recipient of a 2017-2018 Rae Armour West Postgraduate Scholarship. She is also a 2017 Tin House Scholar. Her fiction has been published in The Harvard Review. An award-winning writer with a background in playwriting, Porter has worked with Playwrights Horizons, the Joseph Papp Theater, New York Stage and Film, the Women's Project, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and Horizon Theatre Company. She has been anthologized in Plays from Woolly Mammoth by Broadway Play Services and Heinemann's Scenes for Women by Women. She has also been profiled in Southern Women Playwrights: New Essays in History and Criticism from the University of Alabama Press. Porter was born in Savannah, Georgia, and lives in Brooklyn.
Paul Harding is the author of two novels about multiple generations of a New England family: the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers and Enon. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, he was a drummer for the band Cold Water Flat before earning his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Harding has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and was a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.