November 22, 2021 9:44 AM EST

Following 2017’s critically acclaimed The Talented Ribkins, Ladee Hubbard returns to themes of power, exploitation and race in her electrifying and imaginative sophomore release. In 1914 New Orleans, August Sitwell is the longtime groundskeeper (one of a small, entirely Black domestic staff) for the white Barclay family, whose wealth is almost entirely gone. When Mr. Barclay is approached by a businessman interested in selling the delicious rib sauce made by the Barclays’ chef, Miss Mamie, he jumps at the chance, using a caricature of August—a.k.a. “The Rib King”—as the face of the brand. A decade later, the Barclays’ former maid Jennie is an entrepreneur with a beauty line to sell, fighting her way through the unwelcoming and impenetrable world of white businessmen. Hubbard ties these threads with a powerful act of retribution; in total, it’s a beautifully crafted and resonant story about the consequences of the country’s violence against African Americans.

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