From the author of the award-winning novel Play for a Kingdom comes a masterful story inspired by the early life of Walter White, a dynamic but now all-but-forgotten figure in the history of civil rights. The twenty-four-year-old White was recruited in 1918 to work for the NAACP. Just weeks after he began, a horrible lynching took place in a small town in Tennessee and White was sent there to pose as a traveling salesman. His mission was to stay as long as it took to pry the secrets out of the town. Dyja paints a complex portrait of shifting identity as White, a blonde, blue-eyed, and very light-skinned African-American, moves back and forth between white and black, working his way into both the good-old-boy network of the town and the besieged African-American community. Forced to rethink his assumptions about what really happened in the town of Sibley Springs the night of the lynching, he struggles to establish guilt and innocence in a foreign landscape, confronting as well his own questions of identity. When another lynching looms, White must decide if he will risk everything to save a black life and the white souls of Sibley Springs.
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Thomas Dyja is the author of Play for a Kingdom, which was named one of the best first novels of 1998 by Library Journal and Meet John Trow, which the Times of London called one of the ten best novels of 2003. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.From Publishers Weekly:
Dyja (Meet John Trow; Play for a Kingdom) turns his sights on rural Tennessee in 1918, and specifically on the fictional town of Sibley Springs, where "they lynched some colored." The man who was lynched, "a farmer,... had been strung up after a disagreement with three youths on the street.... Tortured first, then castrated, he'd finally been burned alive by the good people of the town." Walter White, a real historical participant in the Civil Rights movement of the day, is sent by the NAACP in New York to investigate. He is a fair-haired black man whose coloring and features do not betray his lineage. Though constantly fearful of being identified, White can easily pass for Caucasian—until examined by black eyes. His secret and his double life provide a fine tension throughout the novel and justify its many meditations on the significance of race. An articulate and congenial man, White quickly wins the trust of several town figures and learns of their roles in the lynching. However, the complexities of culture and character soon enmesh the idealistic young White so completely that he cannot bring himself to leave. His struggle to comprehend the townspeople, the South and himself is utterly convincing. The novel offers no easy explanations, but instead is driven by the ambiguities and contradictions of human nature.
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Book Description Da Capo Press, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110786717076
Book Description Da Capo Press, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0786717076