- Author Bio
“Terrific…deeply felt, beautifully written, and profoundly humane.” --The New York Times Book Review cover
“Hilarious…A rich and vivid multicultural history.” --Time Magazine
From James McBride, author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird and the bestselling modern classic The Color of Water, one of the most anticipated novels of the year: a wise and witty tale about what happens to the witnesses of a shooting.
In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.
The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.
As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters—caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York—overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.
Bringing to these pages both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, James McBride has written a novel every bit as involving as The Good Lord Bird and as emotionally honest as The Color of Water. Told with insight and wit, Deacon King Kong demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us.
Story Locale: Brooklyn, NY
JAMES MCBRIDE IS BACK: Deacon King Kong is McBride’s first—and much-anticipated—novel since his 2013 National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, and it was worth the wait: This is a terrifically readable and deeply felt literary novel.
BRILLIANT STORYTELLING: In this novel, McBride shows once again that he is a master storyteller at the height of his powers: The characters, plot, and setting are all brilliantly realized and come together flawlessly.
A TRUE SLICE OF LIFE: McBride paints moving and human portraits of the African-American and Latino communities who struggled in Brooklyn during the 1960s as they confronted both systemic racism from their Italian and Irish neighbors as well as the infiltration of hard drugs like heroin and the violence that came with them.
A LOVE STORY, A MYSTERY, A GHOST STORY: A tender romance between characters? A priceless piece of art stolen during wartime and hidden for decades? The ghost of a departed loved one that returns? Deacon King Kong has all three and much more—all wrought in James McBride’s unparalleled prose.
STELLAR PRE-PUB REVIEWS: All of the pre-pub reviews for Deacon King Kong have been four-star raves, highlighting the book’s humor, humanity, and memorable characters.
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Praise for DEACON KING KONG:
“A mystery story, a crime novel, an urban farce, a sociological portrait of late-1960s Brooklyn: McBride’s novel contains multitudes… He conducts his antic symphony with deep feeling, never losing sight of the suffering and inequity within the merriment.” —The New York Times, Top 10 Books of 2020
"Shouldn’t we just get it over with and declare McBride this decade’s Great American Novelist?...McBride has a way of inflating reality to comical sizes, the better for us to see every tiny mechanism that holds unjust systems in place." —Los Angeles Times
“A raucous, poignant, humanity-embracing novel.” —O, The Oprah Magazine, Top 20 Books of 2020
“A story of comedy and compassion.” —TIME, Top 10 Books of 2020
“A boisterous, imaginative, tender foray into late- 1960’s Brooklyn.” —Entertainment Weekly, Top 10 Books of 2020