Traitor to the Race

Darieck Scott, Author
Darieck Scott, Author Dutton Books $20.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-525-93912-2
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-452-27335-1
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The tenuous distinction between the real and self-imagined lives of a biracial gay couple is thrust into sharp relief by a brutal murder in this frank, lean debut. Kenneth Gabriel, an unemployed black actor, shares a small apartment in New York City with his white companion, Evan Marcialis, a regular on soap operas. During Evan's long days at work, Kenneth frequents Central Park, where he invents elaborate fantasies about random passersby, or sits at home and dreams up bizarre episodes of the TV series Bewitched. The couple's relationship fractures when each man experiences a sudden moment of self-revelation. The violent rape and slaying by whites of Kenneth's closeted cousin and early lover causes him to question his allegiance to Evan, while Evan is surprised and alarmed by his own failure to respond to bigoted insinuations about his lover. When Kenneth organizes the novel's climactic ``dance riot'' to draw attention to his cousin's death, he and Evan are forced to revisit explosive issues they had once believed settled, including race, homophobia, sexuality and political activism. Through his insightful and appealing portrait of Kenneth, Scott gives voice to a constituency rarely heard from. His sex scenes, though frequent, are well crafted, and he handles his complex narrative-a kaleidoscope of first- and third-person vignettes-with aplomb. Scott undercuts the power of his story by tackling too many issues, any one of which could have served as his sole focus, but nonetheless he has written a provocative novel that is unafraid to examine volatile questions of sex and race. (May)
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