A Black father makes amends with his gay son through letters written on his deathbed in this wise and penetrating novel of empathy and forgiveness, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robert Jones Jr. and Alice Walker.
DON’T CRY FOR ME
by Daniel Black
Hanover Square Press, February 2022
(via Dystel, Goderich & Bourret)
As Jacob lies dying, he begins to write a letter to his only son, Isaac. They have not met or spoken in many years, and there are things that Isaac must know. Stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extend back to slavery. Secrets from Jacob’s tumultuous relationship with Isaac’s mother and the shame he carries from the dissolution of their family. Tragedies that informed Jacob’s role as a father and his reaction to Isaac’s being gay. But most of all, Jacob must share with Isaac the unspoken truths that reside in his heart. He must give voice to the trauma that Isaac has inherited. And he must create a space for the two to find peace.
With piercing insight and profound empathy, acclaimed author Daniel Black illuminates the lived experiences of Black fathers and queer sons, offering an authentic and ultimately hopeful portrait of reckoning and reconciliation. Spare as it is sweeping, poetic as it is compulsively readable, Don’t Cry for Me is a monumental novel about one family grappling with love’s hard edges and the unexpected places where hope and healing take flight.
“Sad and gripping…an example of how fiction is not just a form of literature but a place. We go there for lessons on how to live, how to change and, most important, how to forgive and seek forgiveness. » —New York Times Book Review
“Heartbreaking…Poignant and moving… consistently powerful.” —Publishers Weekly
“DON’T CRY FOR ME a perfect song: the epistolary dirge of a man singing to his son as he faces death by cancer. At turns intense and funny, tender and brutally honest, Jacob’s letter to his son, Isaac, is revelatory. While the story is an unflinching account of a family and a community in the Black American Midwest coming of age in the modern now, it is also full of that which makes us all human, regardless of where we are from or who we are: full of fathers trying to understand sons, sons trying to understand fathers, parents feeling as if they have failed children, children realizing how they have passed their own traumas on to others and so on. It’s a beautiful book. Read it. ” —Jesmyn Ward
Daniel Black is an author and professor of African American studies and English at Clark Atlanta University. His books include The Coming, Perfect Peace and They Tell Me of a Home. He is the winner of the Distinguished Writer Award from the Middle-Atlantic Writer’s Association and has been nominated for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, the Ernest J. Gaines Award,and the Georgia Author of the Year Award. He was raised in Blackwell, Arkansas, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.