The New Naturals

Drive by the abandoned restaurant on a hill off the highway in Western Massachusetts, and it doesn’t look like much. Definitely not a destination. But that’s exactly what it becomes, after a young Black Boston woman sees the country—in fact, the whole world—as an increasingly dangerous place. After losing their child and looking hard for a safe place, she and her husband begin to construct a separate society: somewhere nurturing, where everyone can feel loved and wanted, where all the Spike Lee movies play, where the children learn actual history—and somewhere underground, where they won’t need anything or anyone from the world above ground to make it work. She locates a Benefactor and soon it all begins to take shape. Two homeless men are told about the place and begin their journey by bus to get there. A young and disillusioned journalist stumbles upon it and wants in. And a former soccer player, having lost his footing in society, is persuaded to check out this place too. But it doesn’t take long for problems to develop, for conflicts to surface, for food to become scarce, for the children to crave life beyond this place.

In a disarmingly original and perceptive novel, Gabriel Bump peels back the layers of lives lived all over the country today and asks, what if there was a a safe place for Black people, a kind of contemporary Quilombo? A remarkable feat of the imagination, The New Naturals is a fresh and timely story about the importance of community, for although their utopia cannot survive, the ties that bind these people to each other do. Bump shows us that, ultimately, it is our love for and connection to each other that will save us.