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Examining the complexities of the problems of black youths from an insider's perspective, an African-American journalist recalls his own troubled childhood, his rehabilitation while in prison, and his successful Washington Post career.
Them tells the compelling story of Barlowe a single forty-something African American who rents a ramshackle house on Randolph Street just a stone's throw from the historic birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When Sean and Sandy Gilmore, a young white couple, move in next door, Barlowe and Sandy develop a reluctant, complex friendship based on conversations over the backyard fence. But fear and suspicion build and clashes ensue as more new whites move in, changing the familiar landscape.
The author of the bestselling memoir Makes Me Wanna Holler presents a profound debut novel -- in the tradition of Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities and Zadie Smith's White Teeth-- that captures the dynamics of class and race in today's urban integrated communities. Nathan McCall's novel, Them, tells a compelling story set in a downtown Atlanta neighborhood known for its main street, Auburn Avenue, which once was regarded as the "richest Negro street in the world." The story centers around Barlowe Reed, a single, forty-something African American who rents a ramshackle house on Randolph Street, just a stone's throw from the historic birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Barlowe, who works as a printer, otherwise passes the time reading and hanging out with other men at the corner store. He shares his home and loner existence with a streetwise, twenty-something nephew who is struggling to get his troubled life back on track. When Sean and Sandy Gilmore, a young white couple, move in next door, Barlowe and Sandy develop a reluctant, complex friendship as they hold probing -- often frustrating -- conversations over the backyard fence. Members of both households, and their neighbors as well, try to go about their business, tending to their homes and jobs. However, fear and suspicion build -- and clashes ensue -- with each passing day, as more and more new whites move in and make changes and once familiar people and places disappear. Using a blend of superbly developed characters in a story that captures the essence of this country's struggles with the unsettling realities of gentrification, McCall has produced a truly great American novel.
"Filled with essays that challenge America's myths. ... His easy reading style unsuspectingly pricks the conscience." --USA Today. With the same personal authority and exhilarating directness he brought to his account of his passage from a prison cell to the newsroom of The Washington Post, Nathan McCall delivers a series of front-line reports on the state of the races in today's America. The resulting volume is guaranteed to shake the assumptions of readers of every pigmentation and political allegiance. In What's Going On, McCall adds up the hidden costs of the stereotype of black athletic prowess, which tells African American teenagers that they can only succeed on the white man's terms. He introduces a fresh perspective to the debates on gangsta rap and sexual violence. He indicts the bigotry of white churches and the complacency of the black suburban middle class, celebrates the heroism of Muhammad Ali, and defends the truth-telling of Alice Walker. Engaging, provocative, and utterly fearless, here is a commentator to reckon with, addressing our most persistent divisions in a voice of stinging immediacy. "[These essays] reinforce the moral authority McCall [brings] to the issue of America's racial schisms." --The New York Times Book Review. "Straightforward, quick-moving [and] erudite." --Philadelphia Inquirer.
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