It is the late eighteenth century. Abroad a slave ship bound from West Africa to Jamaica, a terrified young boy is cared for by Ami, a fellow captive, who becomes his surrogate mother during that nightmare voyage. They are sold to separate owners, but their lives remain curiously intertwined, and the boy, now a man named August, marries Ami's daughter, Sarah. Ancestors tells the story of their lives, their part in the struggle for emancipation, and the hope and faith that sustains them.

At the age of ten, Paul Crooks's great-great-great-grandfather John Alexander Crooks was captured and put aboard a slave ship bound for Jamaica. Ancestors is a fictionalised account of John's experiences from 1798 to 1838, the year that slaves in the British West Indies were set free.

'A moving tale of a black British family that travels through the ages from slavery and beyond' Bonnie Greer, The Guardian

'I was moved' Doreen Lawrence

'Groundbreaking... a riveting read' Pride

'An exceptional debut novel. It is rightly being hailed as the heir to Alex Haley's Roots... A highly recommended read for the entire family' Woman to Woman

'Part historical novel, part thriller... convincingly recreates slave life as it must have been and the helplessness of individual slaves in an unfeeling system' Family History Month

'Crooks' search for his family tree is the compelling theme - fiction based on terrible fact' Off the Shelf

'An inspiring piece of literature' New Nation

'It is his riverting account of how he, as a young Black Londoner, learnt how to research family history and trace his origins back to the Caribbean and Africa that will most inspire those on a similar quest' Madge Dresser, In My Library, BBC Who Do You Think You Are Magazine

04 Jan 2015
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About the author

  • Paul Crooks

    Paul Crooks

    Paul Crooks was born a stone's throw from Wembley Football Stadium and lives in London. He is the author of Ancestors, which follows the journey he took to trace his roots from London, to Jamaica and right back to Africa.

    A Tree Without Roots: The Guide to Tracing British, African and Asian Caribbean Ancestry announced Paul as an expert in African Caribbean genealogy. He has also spoken on national and local radio about the research that went into writing Ancestors.

    Titles by Paul Crooks