Moore, an editor-at-large at the content distributor Urban One and a columnist at Logo, describes his bold and candid memoir as “snapshots of my life,” molded by forces of “brutality, poverty, and self-hatred.” During the 1980s, he is one of a family of 11 in a three-bedroom home in Camden, N.J.; he shares memories of barbecues, dance contests, hip-hop music, and dark family secrets. One grim secret is his abusive father, a regular resident of jails in the 1970s and ’80s, who routinely abused his wife. Moore’s most eye-opening event occurred when neighborhood boys yelled gay slurs at the 14-year-old Moore and tried to set him on fire before an aunt came to the rescue. At age 19, Moore suffered a near-fatal heart attack, which quickened his resolve to succeed at Seton Hall University even while dealing with the stigma of being gay. Moore offers insightful comments on racism and sexual identity throughout (“The consequences of black queer desire seemed more lethal than poetic. And I did everything in my power to resist becoming what I sensed society hated”); eventually, he moved past self-hatred to a firm commitment to service and activism as a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement. Moore’s well-crafted book is a stunning tribute to affirmation, forgiveness, and healing—and serves as an invigorating emotional tonic. (June)
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
"Stranded in the urban battleground of Camden, New Jersey... Moore struggles against a crush of bullying, bigotry, and self-loathing. He chronicles his odyssey in this piercingly vulnerable memoir, ultimately finding his way to LGBTQ activism and 'black joy' through faith and family."O Magazine
"A staggering work that calls into question the truths we assume about ourselves and those among us."Esquire
"In his frank debut memoir, journalist Moore recounts his experience growing up a queer black man in Camden, New Jersey in the 1980s. Loved by his vibrant but argumentative family and ostracized by many of his peers, Moore grapples with the complexities of his growing faith and burgeoning sexuality and his own self-loathing and self-acceptance in his journey to becoming an activist and outstanding voice in the Black Lives Matter movement."Harpers Bazaar
"Darnell Moore is one of the most influential black writers and thinkers of our timea beautiful, intentionally complex feminist activist writing liberatory futures. I cannot wait for the world to read No Ashes in the Fire."Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty
"No Ashes in the Fire is part memoir, part social commentary. Darnell honestly tells his story with an intensity and passion that offers readers a deep understanding of a gay black male coming of age who open-heartedly claims his identity, and who embraces redemptive suffering. Ultimately, he reaches out to everyone with an inclusive love."bell hooks
"No Ashes in the Fire illuminates the fragility of black life no matter how much love surrounds it. As he grapples with social tragedy and the insecurity of black masculinity, Moore displays magnificent self-reflection. He narrates his story in a looping, lyrical style that approaches complicated truths through metaphor.... For Moore, these efforts often take the form of an empathy that borders on the transcendent."Dawn Lundy Martin, Bookforum
"A brutally honest investigation and interrogation of the stories [Moore] was taught to tell himself in order to live... The prose is immaculately spare and razor-sharp, honed to pierce the armor of our own role in upholding and telling similar stories. He pairs trenchant systemic analysis with interpersonal forgiveness, marking the ways those that sought to cause him pain and even death were first, possibly irrevocably, damaged by the same stories they were told in order to live... It's the stories we tell ourselves that need to burn. And with No Ashes In The Fire, Moore strikes a match."Kevin Allred, INTO
"No Ashes in the Fire is everything that is quintessentially Darnell Moore: brilliant, courageous, transparent, and wholly original. Moore's masterful writing feels like equal parts soul music and gospel testimony. With this book, Moore positions himself as one of the leading public intellectuals of our generation. More importantly, he has written a text that will inspire, and maybe even save, many lives."Marc Lamont Hill, author of Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond
"Darnell Moore is doing something we've never seen in American literature. He's not just texturing a life, a place, and a movement while all three are in flux; Darnell is memorializing and reckoning with a life, place, and movement that are targeted by the worst parts of our nation. He never loses sight of the importance of love, honesty, and organization on his journey. We need this book more than, or as much as we've needed any book this century."Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
"Darnell Moore's No Ashes in the Fire is a searing,
tender, and wise memoir. It is the captivating story of a man, a family, a community, and an age in the life of Black America in which old wounds and new possibilities meet at an earth-shaking crossroads. Moore is a reflective,
contemplative, and instructive scribe. His are the words of an organizer, a social historian, and a fighter with a deep love for his people."Imani Perry, Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies, Princeton University
"Radical black love is the major force for black freedom, as so powerfully embodied and enacted in Darnell Moore's courageous book. From Camden, New Jersey, as a youth, to Brooklyn, New York, as an adult, Moore takes us on his torturous yet triumphant journey through racist and homophobic America. Don't miss his inspiring story!" Dr. Cornel West
"Darnell L. Moore's powerful and inspiring memoir No Ashes in the Fire speaks to the bittersweet struggle to reconcile sexuality, spirituality, and masculinity during the vulnerable years of youth when violence in its various ruthless forms threatens to shatter both body and soul. Honest and revealing, Moore's sobering voice turns his unsettling truths into grace notes; his history of heartache into a poignant story of a hard-won triumph."Rigoberto González, author of Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
"Darnell Moore reflects on what it meant to come of age during the bitter end of the 20th century. He maps the neoliberal political trends that collapsed cities like Camden, then blamed their demise on black children and their mothers. He unspools threads of intimate moments, locating his earliest memories of discovering desire for another boy. He recounts the violence that became the single story of his generation and deepens those annual murder rate statistics by raising the names and stories of the dead. He is in the radius as Hip Hop is born and considers its effect on posturing, on masculinity, on public joy. But mostly this is excavation work-digging past shame,
conspiratorial family secrets. He is greatly served by the same curiosity that belonged to the smart, shy boy he was. As he navigates and collects memories,
he unlocks closed doors that turned single rooms in a family home into silos of suffering. Healing and deep care is on the other side of this memory map, and it is a journey well spent."dream hampton
"In No Ashes in the Fire, Darnell Moore takes a single life-his own-to prove the principle of intersectionality: the so-called issues we'd like to push away from ourselves, those supposed other worlds we claim to only encounter on the news, are indeed the actual individual lives we lead. Moore shows us how he, and therefore each and every one of us,
grapples with the myths surrounding sexuality, race, class, and loneliness. Or as Moore himself writes, "I lost myself because I had longed so badly to be found." No one goes unscathed, but on the other hand, no one goes untouched. This is a book of experience and survival."Jericho Brown, author of The New Testament
"A rare debut... This is a holistic story, one that is as intersectional as real life."Colorlines
"Moore writes eloquently and powerfully about discovering his sexuality as a child, and how he came to understand both the impossibility and revolutionary potential of Black queer love in America."them
"A heart-wrenching memoir of triumphing over...racial violence."
"Remarkable... No Ashes in the Fire is a love letter to black and queer people. It's an homage to those who have not only persevered but thrived when systematic oppression all but guaranteed their demise."ArtsATL
"[A] stirring and beautifully rendered memoir.... Part autobiographical, part social commentary, and entirely eye-opening, No Ashes in the Fire is a timely book about race, sexuality, class, and equality that everyone in America should be reading."Bustle
"In a word, Darnell L. Moore's compelling memoir No Ashes in the Fire is vulnerable... Moore takes readers through the glorious and traumatic experiences of his self-discovery."Philadelphia Inquirer
"Necessary... In the voice that's made him a standout writer, Moore gives readers much to chew and ruminate on."Bitch, The 30 Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of 2018
"[A] bold and candid memoir... Moore's well-crafted book is a stunning tribute to affirmation, forgiveness, and healingand serves as an invigorating emotional tonic."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"An open-hearted exploration of faith, fluid sexuality, and the myriad challenges of being a black American when advancement seems elusive as ever... Moore writes deftly in passages that purposefully meander to present a broad, socially engaged tableau of his experiences, though some of his observations can be repetitive. An engaging meditation on identity and creativity within challenging settings."
"This coming-of-age memoir cum meditation is the introspective story of a man in search of self... A cultural and political history that examines and defies the stereotypes of black life in America.. [Darnell L. Moore's] story is an inspiration."
"Moore's commentary on racism, sexual orientation, and inequality makes this a must-read for our current social climate. Memoir and biography fans will eagerly consume this complex and varied account."Library Journal
"[Darnell L. Moore] is masterful at molding intensely personal experiences into universal sensations that touch every human at some point-and at doing so without clichés or self-help affirmations. We are terrified with the child Darnell who witnesses his father pelting his mother's back. We are shy and confused and loved with the Darnell whose father teaches him how to wash properly and to swim. Whether Darnell loves a man or a woman, we, too, desire and taste and quiver and regret and want again... Moore does the necessary work of affirming black humanity, and of unveiling Camden, his blackness, and his queerness as sources not of "nothing good," but of his invincibility."Women's Review of Books
"To be a good ally is to be a good listener. And everyone should listen to the story of Darnell L. Moore's life."Hello Giggles
Affecting memoir that looks back on surviving a hardscrabble childhood and learning to thrive as a queer black man.Journalist Moore casts his debut as an open-hearted exploration of faith, fluid sexuality, and the myriad challenges of being a black American when advancement seems elusive as ever. His parents were teenagers, so he grew up among a loving, fractious extended family: "Too many people, which meant there was too much love and there were too many arguments." The author writes powerfully about his home city of Camden, New Jersey, during an era of crack and decline following the white flight of the 1970s. "To claim love for a city so denigrated by the US media," he writes, "is to contradict every idea Camden residents have been socialized to accept." As a child in this rough environment, Moore was perceived as different, making him a target of neighborhood bullies, culminating in a horrific scene where they attempted to burn him alive: "The feeling of embarrassment was as overpowering as the bitter smell of the gas that emanated from my body." As a teenager, Moore tried to present a front of masculinity while gravitating toward his few courageously out gay classmates as friends. "Queerness is magic for those brave enough to make use of it," he writes, "but it can feel poisonous for those who have yet to give in to its power." The author drove himself toward academic achievement, understanding the odds against him. At Seton Hall University, despite exploring both hedonistic hookups and a deepening religious faith, he still felt unsettled as to his identity until he began teaching, later becoming involved in youth programs and activism and finally coming out to his mother. "Her acceptance was more healing than any prayer," he writes. Moore writes deftly in passages that purposefully meander to present a broad, socially engaged tableau of his experiences, though some of his observations can be repetitive.An engaging meditation on identity and creativity within challenging settings.