Hell of a Book

Jason Mott. Dutton, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-593-33096-8
Mott’s stunning fourth novel (after The Crossing) delves into the complex and fraught African American experience. The protagonist, a nameless Black author on his first book tour, is reeling from his newfound fame and the success of his book, Hell of a Book. As he flies to promotional events, often in a drunken stupor, the author reveals that his vivid imagination makes it difficult for him to distinguish reality from fiction. So when he encounters “The Kid,” a 10-year-old boy with impossibly ebony skin, the author doubts the boy is real. The Kid, who uncannily resembles a recent victim of police violence, first appears at a hotel and continues to pop up during the book tour, leading the author to recall his own repressed trauma as a bullied Black boy in North Carolina. The author’s sobering recollections of his youth are punctuated with humorous and insightful encounters that include a discussion on national sociopolitical identity with Nicolas Cage and an improbable first date with a funeral director. Mott’s poetic, cinematic novel tackles what it means to live in a country where Black people perpetually “live lives under the hanging sword of fear.” Absurdist metafiction doesn’t get much better. (June)
Reviewed on : 04/27/2021
Release date: 06/29/2021
Genre: Fiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-593-33099-9
Paperback - 563 pages - 978-0-593-41427-9
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