In a near-future Southern city, everyone is talking about a new experimental medical procedure that boasts unprecedented success rates. In a society plagued by racism, segregation, and private prisons, this operation saves lives with a controversial method--by turning people white. Like any father, our unnamed narrator just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. But in order to afford Nigel's whiteness operation, our narrator must make partner as one of the few black associates at his law firm, jumping through a series of increasingly absurd hoops--from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups--in a tragicomic quest to protect his son. This electrifying, suspenseful novel is at once a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. In the tradition ofRalph Ellison's Invisible Man, We Cast a Shadow fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.
"*Starred Review* I liked my java so black, the police planted evidence on it, says the wry, self-aware, yet ultimately self-defeating narrator of this trenchant satire. Hired (after a humiliating competition) as the black face of a racist corporation, he embarks on a relentless, single-minded quest to medically demelanize his biracial son, Nigel. Nothing, not the contempt of his wife and mother nor the physical and psychological anguish of his child, will deter him from rescuing the teenager from life as a black man. Set in a disturbingly familiar near future, where entire black neighborhoods are imprisoned in the name of security and the bad blacks can be denuded and deported under the Dreadlock Ordinance, Ruffin's debut novel is a harsh indictment of a society that views blackness as a disorder and that forces black men to choose between self-respect and survival. Nigel's demel procedure may be poisonous, but no more so than the radioactive white folk . . . who can't help but hurt you like what made cancer. Unlike his well-meaning white wife, Nigel's father is under no illusions, for after all, what was equality other than a typographical error in the Constitution? Brilliant and devastating.--Lesley Williams Copyright 2018 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Ruffin's brilliant, semisatirical debut stars an unnamed narrator who's all but consumed by his blackness. Forced to become the "committed to diversity" face of his law firm and the pawn of an insidious ad campaign headed by powerful, flirtatious shareholder Octavia Whitmore, the narrator suffers through one indignity after another. He endures a routinely racist police stop and learns that Octavia "fantasized about wearing blackface" and then there's the historical revisionism at the school his mixed-race teenage son Nigel attends, where teachers insist that "every schoolboy knows the Civil War didn't start because of slavery." The narrator only wants Nigel to be spared the dread of being young and black in America. In fact, he's been forcing Nigel to apply skin-lightening cream over the objections of his wife, Penny, and is planning to submit Nigel to an experimental plastic surgery procedure that he hopes will visibly erase his heritage and break the long chain of prisons, prejudice, and limited career options that characterize the narrator's own forebears (his father is incarcerated, a fact that brings the narrator nothing but shame). And yet this is only the setup for a story that suddenly incorporates the violent interventions of a militarized cell of protesters, and hastens the narrator, Nigel, Penny, and Octavia toward a set of separate fates that are both harrowing and inevitable. Though Ruffin's novel is in the vein of satires like Paul Beatty's The Sellout and the film Get Out, it is more bracingly realistic in rendering the divisive policies of contemporary America, making for a singular and unforgettable work of political art. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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