Bump writes from his own childhood experience on the South Side of Chicago. It’s a heartfelt story with familiar themes of family, love, and growing up, but from a completely unique voice – one that will endear you to main character Claude McKay and one that needs to be heard.
Pair it with Margo Jefferson’s Negroland a memoir, also about growing up, decades earlier and in another part of Chicago, as an affluent African-American. Two illuminating and unforgettable portrayals of race in the U.S.
Whitehead lined up the plot of this novel as meticulously as dominos and then with a flick tore everything down in moments.
I sobbed at the end. Read it read it read it.
Under the canopy of oppressive heat and humidity, small town Louisiana residents in 1943 brace for an exciting (for some) and horrific (for others) event. Willie Jones, 18, will be executed at midnight for the rape of a white girl. Tensions mount as the narrative moves quietly from one burdened character to another, each playing a role in the condemning of a young man who loved Grace. Resigned to his fate, Willie spends his last month anticipating his death, while his parents, Frank and Elma do the same, knowing their son's innocence will not matter. Heartsick with his options, the prosecuting attorney is forced by Klan members to choose life for his own son, Gabe, or that of Willie Jones. Simply told, this complex web of humanity explodes when the evening takes the worst possible turn!