Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel

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9781400083169: Birth of a Nation: A Comic Novel

This scathingly hilarious political satire—produced from a collaboration of three of our funniest humorists—answers the burning question: Would anyone care if East St. Louis seceded from the Union?

East St. Louis, Illinois (“the inner city without an outer city”), is an impoverished town, so poor that Fred Fredericks, its idealistic mayor, starts off Election Day by collecting the city’s trash in his own minivan. But the mayor believes in the power of democracy and rallies his fellow citizens to the polls for the presidential election, only to find hundreds of them turned away for trumped-up reasons. Even sweet old Miss Jackson—not to mention the mayor himself—is denied the vote because her name turns up on a bogus list of felons. The national election hinges on Illinois’s electoral votes and, as a result of the mass disenfranchisement of East St. Louis, a radical right-wing junta led by a dim-witted Texas governor seizes the Oval Office.

Prodded by shady black billionaire and old friend John Roberts, Fredericks devises a radical plan of protest: East St. Louis will secede from the Union. Roberts opens an “offshore” bank (albeit in the heart of the U.S.) to finance the newly liberated country, and suddenly East St. Louis becomes the Switzerland of the American heartland, flush with money. It also begins to attract a motley circus of idealistic young militants, OPEC-funded hitmen, CIA operatives, tabloid reporters, and AWOL black servicemen eager to protect and serve the new nation.

Problems set in almost immediately: Controversies rage over the name and national anthem of the new country (they decide on the Republic of Blackland with an anthem sung to the tune of the theme from Good Times), and local thug Roscoe becomes a warlord and turns his gang into a paramilitary force. When the U.S. military begins to move in, Fredericks is forced to decide whether his protest is worth taking all the way.

Birth of a Nation starts with a scenario drawn from the botched election of 2000 and spins it into a brilliantly absurd work of sharply pointed satire. Along the way the authors lay into a host of hot social and cultural issues—skewering white supremacists, black nationalists, and everyone in between—drawing real blood and real laughs in equal measure in this riotous send-up of American politics.

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About the Author:

Aaron McGruder is the creator of The Boondocks comic strip, soon to be a network television show, and author of the national bestseller A Right to Be Hostile.

Reginald Hudlin is the director of eight films, including House Party, Boomerang, and Bebe’s Kids.

Kyle Baker is the author of five classic graphic novels, and his illustrations have appeared in publications nationwide.

Review:

“A memorably funny satire. . . . You can’t put the book down.” —Boston Globe

“Truly funny . . . a tale that will outlive its ties to current headlines.” —Washington Post

“Hilarious satire reminiscent of the great 1940s moviemaker Preston Sturges’s best stuff. . . . Highly entertaining.” —Booklist

Birth of a Nation is a brilliant, biting, and witty commentary on the chaos of the 2000 election. Hudlin and McGruder have achieved that rarest of things: a political satire that is also an extremely important and moving work of literature, an achievement for any writer or any artist at any time. Birth of a Nation is a unique event in the history of African American literature.” —Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

“With a creative team this talented, Birth of a Nation is a must-have book for everyone who loves comics and spirited African American storytelling.” —Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage

“Makes The Art of War seem like The Art of Bore.” —Chris Rock

“Reggie and Aaron are doing to comic books what Public Enemy and NWA did to the music business.” —Ice Cube

“Not since Mad magazine in its prime has a comic combined art, politics, and culture into such a hilarious and page-turning story. Don’t be disenfranchised—buy this book now!” —Alice Randall, author of The Wind Done Gone

Birth of a Nation is the wickedly funny marriage of The Boondocks, House Party, and The Battle of Algiers. Be prepared to laugh yourself silly while repeating over and over again—‘how true.’” —Julian Bond, chairman, NAACP

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