They come from the same home, share the same last name, but their experiences of family are as disparate as “Rashomon” recollections: Hattie and August Shepherd and their 11 children, sprawling across the decades of the 20th century in Ayana Mathis’s ripe and deeply nourishing debut novel, “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.”
Oprah Winfrey propelled it into the cultural conversation earlier last month, vouching for the novel as she chose it for her book club. But don’t let her imprimatur sway you either way. Opening the book should do the trick. Mathis is a literary newcomer, but she is also 39, and her fully formed storytelling powers captivate from the first pages.