Sunday, February 17, 2008

James McBride

Do you know James McBride, the author of The Color of Water and Miracle at St Anna? The guy has sold a lot of books, so there's a good chance you have heard of him. And there's a good chance you'll be hearing more about him soon. Spike Lee is filming Miracle as St Anna, with an impressive cast signed on. Could be very interesting.

And he's got a new novel coming out this month, Song Yet Sung and I see it's already getting some great pre-publication attention. Here's what Publishers Weekly said about it in a starred review, for example:

Escaped slaves, free blacks, slave-catchers and plantation owners weave a tangled web of intrigue and adventure in bestselling memoirist (The Color of Water) McBride's intricately constructed and impressive second novel, set in pre–Civil War Maryland. Liz Spocott, a beautiful young runaway slave, suffers a nasty head wound just before being nabbed by a posse of slave catchers. She falls into a coma, and, when she awakes, she can see the future—from the near-future to Martin Luther King to hip-hop—in her dreams. Liz's visions help her and her fellow slaves escape, but soon there are new dangers on her trail: Patty Cannon and her brutal gang of slave catchers, and a competing slave catcher, nicknamed The Gimp, who has a surprising streak of morality. Liz has some friends, including an older woman who teaches her The Code that guides runaways; a handsome young slave; and a wild inhabitant of the woods and swamps. Kidnappings, gunfights and chases ensue as Liz drifts in and out of her visions, which serve as a thoughtful meditation on the nature of freedom and offer sharp social commentary on contemporary America. McBride hasn't lost his touch: he nails the horrors of slavery as well as he does the power of hope and redemption.

Now, my fantasy readers may not immediately see how that's just up my ally, but it is. My second novel, Walk Through Darkness was about... well, about a runaway slave from Maryland and the tracker in pursuit of him. Familiar territory. So I'm very interested.

Actually, I'm also involved! The Washington Post asked me to review Song Yet Sung. I did, and the review came out today. It's here if you're interested.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hey, nice review. About half way through the book, enjoying it thus far. Getting caught up with the language at times and forgetting the story. But, yeah, it's good.

Too, not to switch gears, but if you've read Ron Rash before, he has a new book slated for release this fall titled SERENA it looks good. He says, "it's his best book ever." But, before then think I'll hit McBride's ST. ANNA next then William Haywood Henderson's THE REST OF THE EARTH.

Enjoy your Sunday.

11:34 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Thanks, Drew,

Glad you're enjoying it. It's not like I didn't have a few reservations about it - which I mention briefly - but those aren't big things. I generally think there's a lot of strong qualities to it, and I believe quite a few readers will get something from it.

I'll be curious to see what McBride does next. So far he's building quite an interesting career.

11:56 AM  

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