A review of “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride which tells the story of Deacon Cuffy Lambkin, better known as “Sportcoat”, and the chain of events he unwittingly sets in motion when he shoots Deems Clemens, the leader of the neighborhood drug dealers. The story is primarily set in a fictional housing project, the Causeway Houses or Cause, and its surrounding neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. It features an expansive cast of characters that might initially take a bit of time to differentiate but they become richly detailed and fleshed out as the story progresses. This is an incredible book and probably one of the best fictional books that I’ve ever read.
A review of the book “There Are No Children Here” by Alex Kotlowitz which tells the story of residents of Chicago’s Henry Horner projects during the 1980s.
“The Other Wes Moore” explores the lives of two young Black men coming of age during the same time period in similar neighborhoods and ironically enough with the same name. (What are the odds?) They both experience adolescent bumps and bruises. But, their lives widely diverge setting one on the path to prison and the other to becoming a Rhodes Scholar.
The Book of Harlan by Bernice McFadden tells the story of a Black musician from Harlem who travels to Paris around the time the city falls to the Nazis. But it’s about much more. It also covers moments from the Black experience from about the 1920’s to the 1960’s/1970’s.
In some ways Manchild in the Promised Land is a book about a rambunctious boy and his group of friends coming of age in the 1940s-1950s. In a different place and if Claude Brown were a different race, this could have been an innocent and heart-warming story. But, on the gritty streets of Harlem, Claude’s life is rife with violence, crime, and despair from a young age.