A sweeping, eerily resonant epic of race and violence in the Jim Crow South: a lyrical and emotionally devastating masterpiece from Charlie Smith, whom the New York Public Library has said “may be America’s most bewitching stylist alive.”
Delvin Walker is just a boy when his mother flees their home in the Red Row section of Chattanooga, accused of killing a white man. Taken in by Cornelius Oliver, proprietor of the town’s leading Negro funeral home, he discovers the art of caring for the aggrieved, the promise of transcendence in the written word, and a rare peace in a hostile world. Yet tragedy visits them near daily, and after a series of devastating events—a lynching, a church burning—Delvin fears being accused of murdering a local white boy and leaves town.
Haunted by his mother’s disappearance, Delvin rides the rails, meets fellow travelers, falls in love, and sees an America sliding into the Great Depression. But before his hopes for life and love can be realized, he and a group of other young men are falsely charged with the rape of two white women, and shackled to a system of enslavement masquerading as justice. As he is pushed deeper into the darkness of imprisonment, his resolve to escape burns only more brightly, until in a last spasm of flight, in a white heat of terror, he is called to choose his fate.
In language both intimate and lyrical, novelist and poet Charlie Smith conjures a fresh and complex portrait of the South of the 1920s and ’30s in all its brutal humanity—and the astonishing endurance of one battered young man, his consciousness “an accumulation of breached and disordered living . . . hopes packed hard into sprung joints,” who lives past and through it all.
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Charlie Smith is the author of eight novels and eight books of poetry. He has won numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, including the Aga Khan Prize, the Levinson Prize, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the New York Times. Five of his books have been named as New York Times Notable Books of the Year or as Editors’ Choices. He lives in New York City.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
this book was almost impossible to read, & it was only the sample! the sentences are like 100 words long with 50 commas, causing you (or at least ME) to forget what the beginning of the sentence was & where the statement was going. it's like the book is probably 10 run on sentences to make a story. I felt lost & I've never felt lost reading before, no matter how complex. I'd probably have a better time reading a story written by a four year old. not interested in buying & reading the rest of the book.
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Delvin Walker is our main character and he starts the book as a very young man, maybe even child abandoned by his mother as she has killed a man and as a black woman will face the harshest of punishments for her crime. Devlin and his siblings are taken to an orphanage of sorts and from there Delvin's life is a whirlwind. To describe this book in one word, which I rarely do, I immediately thought of adventure. If you are a reader who loves books that are just one big grand adventure, then pick this book up. From here to there to everywhere, Delvin lives everywhere and does almost everything.