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We cast a shadow : a novel
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2019
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Summary
"An incisive and necessary" (Roxane Gay) debut for fans of Get Out and Paul Beatty's The Sellout , about a father's obsessive quest to protect his son--even if it means turning him white

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize * "Stunning and audacious . . . at once a pitch-black comedy, a chilling horror story and an endlessly perceptive novel about the possible future of race in America."--NPR

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST

" You can be beautiful, even more beautiful than before. " This is the seductive promise of Dr. Nzinga's clinic, where anyone can get their lips thinned, their skin bleached, and their nose narrowed. A complete demelanization will liberate you from the confines of being born in a black body--if you can afford it.

In this near-future Southern city plagued by fenced-in ghettos and police violence, more and more residents are turning to this experimental medical procedure. Like any father, our narrator just wants the best for his son, Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. The darker Nigel becomes, the more frightened his father feels. But how far will he go to protect his son? And will he destroy his family in the process?

This electrifying, hallucinatory novel is at once a keen satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. At its center is a father who just wants his son to thrive in a broken world. Maurice Carlos Ruffin's work evokes the clear vision of Ralph Ellison, the dizzying menace of Franz Kafka, and the crackling prose of Vladimir Nabokov. We Cast a Shadow fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.

Praise for We Cast a Shadow

" We Cast a Shadow asks some of the most important questions fiction can ask, and it does so with energetic and acrobatic prose, hilarious wordplay and great heart. . . . Love is at the core of this funny, beautiful novel . . . . At any moment, Ruffin can summon the kind of magic that makes you want to slow down, reread and experience the pleasure of him crystallizing an image again. . . . Read this book." --Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah , The New York Times Book Review (Editors ' Choice)

"A full-throated novelistic debut of ferocious power and grace . . . a story that refracts the insanity of the world into a shape so unique you wonder how this book wasn't there all along." -- Lit Hub

"Propulsive . . . We Cast a Shadow proves that the eeriest works of speculative fiction are those that hit closest to home." -- Vulture
Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* I liked my java so black, the police planted evidence on it, says the wry, self-aware, yet ultimately self-defeating narrator of this trenchant satire. Hired (after a humiliating competition) as the black face of a racist corporation, he embarks on a relentless, single-minded quest to medically demelanize his biracial son, Nigel. Nothing, not the contempt of his wife and mother nor the physical and psychological anguish of his child, will deter him from rescuing the teenager from life as a black man. Set in a disturbingly familiar near future, where entire black neighborhoods are imprisoned in the name of security and the bad blacks can be denuded and deported under the Dreadlock Ordinance, Ruffin's debut novel is a harsh indictment of a society that views blackness as a disorder and that forces black men to choose between self-respect and survival. Nigel's demel procedure may be poisonous, but no more so than the radioactive white folk . . . who can't help but hurt you like what made cancer. Unlike his well-meaning white wife, Nigel's father is under no illusions, for after all, what was equality other than a typographical error in the Constitution? Brilliant and devastating.--Lesley Williams Copyright 2018 Booklist
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