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Grant Park
     

Grant Park

by Leonard Pitts Jr.
 

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"A novel as significant as it is engrossing." —Booklist, starred review

Grant Park is a page-turning and provocative look at black and white relations in contemporary America, blending the absurd and the poignant in a powerfully well-crafted narrative that showcases Pitts's gift for telling emotionally wrenching stories.

Grant Park

Overview

"A novel as significant as it is engrossing." —Booklist, starred review

Grant Park is a page-turning and provocative look at black and white relations in contemporary America, blending the absurd and the poignant in a powerfully well-crafted narrative that showcases Pitts's gift for telling emotionally wrenching stories.

Grant Park begins in 1968, with Martin Luther King's final days in Memphis. The story then moves to the eve of the 2008 election, and cuts between the two eras. Disillusioned columnist Malcolm Toussaint, fueled by yet another report of unarmed black men killed by police, hacks into his newspaper's server to post an incendiary column that had been rejected by his editors. Toussaint then disappears, and his longtime editor, Bob Carson, is summarily fired within hours of the column's publication.

While a furious Carson tries to find Toussaint—while simultaneously dealing with the reappearance of a lost love from his days as a 60s activist—Toussaint is abducted by two white supremacists plotting to explode a bomb at Barack Obama's planned rally in Chicago’s Grant Park. Toussaint and Carson are forced to remember the choices they made as young men, when both their lives were changed profoundly by their work in the civil rights movement.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/03/2015
This high-stakes, hard-charging political thriller from Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Pitts (Freeman) tells the saga of two journalists, switching between the time periods of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 assassination and election day 2008. Sixty-year-old Malcolm Toussaint is a popular black syndicated news columnist writing for the Chicago Post who has two Pulitzer Prizes and resides in a “trophy” mansion. However, he has grown “tired” if not embittered over the frustrating lack of progress in race relations between whites and blacks. After receiving one too many racist emails from his readers, he responds by composing a blunt, scathing column, but his white editor, Bob Carson, kiboshes it. After Malcolm hacks into Bob’s computer and publishes the controversial column anyway, both men are deemed culpable and fired. Following this, a pair of white supremacists kidnap Malcolm; they also reveal their heinous plan to detonate a “McVeigh bomb” in Grant Park when Barack Obama appears there, as the clock begins ticking to stop them. Pitts effectively builds the backstory in which young Malcolm witnesses King’s fatal shooting in Memphis, and young Bob falls in love with the political black activist Janeka Lattimore, who now resurfaces in his life. The sharply etched characters, careful attention to detail, and rich newspaper lore propel Pitts’s socially relevant novel. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

Advance Praise for Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s novel GRANT PARK:

"The state of US race relations in 1968 and 2008 is seen through the eyes of two veteran Chicago newsmen, one black and one white, in this opportune novel. . . . Pitts adroitly blends history with fiction and actual figures (King, Obama) with characters in a plot that builds suspense around the supremacists’ plans as anger between the races gives way to understanding. A novel as significant as it is engrossing." —Booklist, starred review

"In the aftermath of this summer's racially motivated mass murder in Charleston, South Carolina, by an avowed white supremacist, there's near-eerie prescience in Pitts' historical novel. . .[Grant Park], with urgency and passion, makes readers aware that the mistakes of the past are neglected at the future's peril." —Kirkus Reviews

"[A] high-stakes, hard-charging political thriller. . . . The sharply etched characters, careful attention to detail, and rich newspaper lore propel Pitts's socially relevant novel." —Publishers Weekly

Praise for Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s previous novel FREEMAN:

"A uniquely American epic. . . by a knowledgeable, compassionate and relentlessly truthful writer." —Howard Frank Mosher, Washington Post

"In lyrical prose, Pitts unflinchingly and movingly portrays the period's cruelties and triumphs." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A pretty powerful love story." —Audie Cornish, All Things Considered

"Gorgeously written; a searing, wrenching read. Fans of Cold Mountain and Cormac McCarthy will love this story." —Jennifer Weiner, author of The Next Best Thing

"Leonard Pitts has a passion for history and a gift for storytelling. Both shine in this story of love and redemption." —Gwen Ifill, PBS, author of The Breakthrough

"Freeman is a myth of what’s humanly possible, a needed story about little-known heroism, and a shadow thrown forward to the struggles of American families in the 21st century." —John Timpane, Philadelphia Inquirer

"A wonderful, moving, riveting novel." —Gabrielle Union, actress

"Post-Civil War America is fertile ground for novelists, but few have tilled it with such grace and majesty as Leonard Pitts." —Herb Boyd, co-editor of By Any Means Necessary—Malcolm X: Real, not Reinvented

"Richly illuminates the interior lives of free and enslaved Black folks." —Patrik Henry Bass, Essence magazine (editor's pick)

"The characters and their growth, their fierce and stirring highs and lows, their battles with their own prejudices, make this novel unforgettable." —Amy Canfield, Miami Herald

"This book is an eye-opening commentary on devotion during this tangled chapter of American history." —Wendi Thomas, Memphis Commercial Appeal

"An engrossing, moving read and an original portrayal of a pivotal time in our nation's history." —IndieBound's Indie Next List for June, Terri Weiner, Village Books, Bellingham, Washington

"Leonard Pitts, Jr. crafts a novel as well as the great storytellers of our time. Freeman captured my attention from the very first sentence and my heart throughout." —Sybil Wilkes, The Tom Joyner Morning Show

"One of the finest Civil War novels I've ever read. If you promised yourself one decent book this summer, then look no further because this is it." —Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez

"Resonates with humanity’s depth of longing and hope in the most atrocious circumstances.... Astounding for its portrayal of the vulnerability inherent in lost innocence and tragedy, Freeman is a beautiful story of redemption, compassion and love.... It will leave you craving more. It is simply astonishing." —BookPeople's Blog, Austin, Texas

"Freeman reminds us of our humanity." —Nancy Olson, owner of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, North Carolina

Kirkus Reviews
2015-07-16
In the aftermath of this summer's racially motivated mass murder in Charleston, South Carolina, by an avowed white supremacist, there's near-eerie prescience in Pitts' historical novel, which juxtaposes events 20 years apart in the lives of its characters.On Election Day 2008, Malcolm Toussaint, an African-American columnist for a Chicago daily, sets his career on fire by hacking an incendiary column about how he's "tired of white folks' bullshit" onto his paper's front page the day the country's about to elect its first black president. (Malcolm, embittered by a police shooting of an unarmed black man, is convinced Barack Obama's going to lose, no matter what the polls say.) His white editor, Bob Carson, whose computer was used without his permission to post the column, is fired, and he sets off to have it out with Malcolm. But that confrontation may have to wait because Malcolm's been abducted by a pair of white supremacists who plan to use the columnist in a terrorist attack on the eponymous park where the Obama campaign plans to celebrate its triumph that night. This Hitchcock-ian suspense story is interspersed with flashbacks to 1968, when a younger Malcolm, then a militant college dropout, encounters Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights leader's ill-fated trip to Memphis to aid striking garbage workers. There are also scenes during that same year of a younger, more idealistic Bob, whose interracial romance is sorely stress-tested by events in Memphis leading up to King's murder. Pitts, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist making his third foray into fiction (Before I Forget, 2009; Freeman, 2012), sometimes seems to strain for effect while moving two very different narratives along. And the book's setup seems almost too prefabricated. (Yes, there were older black activists who neither liked nor entirely trusted Obama that year, but hardly any of them doubted toward the end that he'd win.) Yet the novel's lapses are all but overwhelmed by its breakneck momentum, and it's infused with vivid characterizations and canny verisimilitude, especially in the '68 passages. For example: in the relative hagiography of the present day, it's hard for younger readers to believe that King didn't enjoy unilateral support from all African-Americans, especially at the time of his death. Hence the sardonic labeling of MLK as "De Lawd" by Malcolm and other Black Power advocates. Whatever its melodramatic excesses, Pitts' novel, with urgency and passion, makes readers aware that the mistakes of the past are neglected at the future's peril.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781932841916
Publisher:
Agate
Publication date:
10/13/2015
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
920,482
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author


Leonard Pitts, Jr. is a nationally syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novels Freeman (Agate Bolden, 2012) and Before I Forget (Agate Bolden, 2009); the collection Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009, Daily Triumphs, Tragedies, and Curiosities (Agate Bolden, 2009); and Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood (Agate Bolden, 2006). Born and raised in Southern California, Pitts now lives in suburban Washington, D.C., with his wife and children.

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