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Deacon King Kong

by McBride, James, 1957-

Format: Print Book 2020
Availability: Available at 13 Libraries 25 of 94 copies
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Summary
OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From the author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird and the bestselling modern classic The Color of Water , comes one of the most celebrated novels of the year.

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.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "National Book Award-winner McBride (Five-Carat Soul, 2017) portrays a 1969 Brooklyn neighborhood through its outsiders, from the Irish to Italians, Puerto Ricans, and African Americans who came north during the Great Migration. At 71, the titular deacon is the least likely of heroes; residents of the Cause Houses wonder how he's still alive. Barely coherent, Cuffy Sportcoat Lambkin rehearses for arguments with his late wife, Hettie, and drinks to clear his thoughts, running off to the boiler room to down some King Kong, a local white lightning, usually with his best friend, Hot Sausage. When he shoots Deems Clemens, the boy he coached in baseball who has become a drug-dealer at 19, everyone assumes the deacon's days of freedom are numbered. But all is not as it seems. As the deacon begins to reckon with his past, he also protects the young man's future and brings some stability to his community. McBride creates tragedies, funny moments, major plot twists, and cultural and generational clashes. A sense of shared struggle emerges as diverse characters develop emotionally while navigating a world that's changing for better and for worse. While historical fiction fans will appreciate the richly detailed approach to Brooklyn's grittiness, McBride's neighborhood saga ultimately sets a new standard for multidimensional fiction about people of color.--Parker Daniel Copyright 2020 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "McBride (The Good Lord Bird) delivers a sharply compassionate shaggy dog tale of a heavy drinking Baptist deacon who shoots a drug dealer and becomes a "walking dead man." In the autumn of 1969, handyman and occasional baseball coach Deacon Cuffy Lambkin, known to his friends as "Sportcoat" because of his colorful wardrobe or as "Deacon King Kong" on account of his equal affection for a moonshine with that name, inexplicably shoots off the ear of Deems Clemens, Sportcoat's former baseball protégé. This sets in motion a hunt for Sportcoat by Deems's employers that draws in Tommy "Elephant" Elefante, a sweetly melancholy Italian mover of "hot goods" whose grip on the neighborhood is slipping, and scrupulous police officer "Potts" Mullen, who is on the brink of retirement. As Deems's crew ineffectually try to murder Sportcoat, Elephant follows clues left by his dead father to find a hidden treasure, and Potts tries to keep the neighborhood safe while falling for the wife of a preacher, McBride unravels the mystery of Sportcoat's inexplicable ire against Deems. With a Dickensian wealth of quirky characters, a sardonic but humane sense of humor reminiscent of Mark Twain, and cartoonish action scenes straight out of Pynchon, McBride creates a lived-in world where everybody knows everybody's business. This generous, achingly funny novel will delight and move readers. (Mar.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Drug dealers -- Crimes against -- Fiction.
Deacons -- Fiction.
Neighborhoods -- Fiction.
Public housing -- Fiction.
New York (N.Y.) -- History -- 20th century -- Fiction.
New York (N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- Fiction.
Publisher New York :2020
Language English
Description 370 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN 9780735216723
073521672X
Other Classic View