cover image Another Kind of Madness

Another Kind of Madness

Ed Pavlic. Milkweed, $26 (504p) ISBN 978-1-57131-128-3

Poet Pavlic’s beautiful debut novel follows Ndiya Grayson, a sharp woman who has spent considerable energy removing herself from the South Side of Chicago. After having lived in several other places around the country, she finds herself pulled back to the neighborhood after she lands a job in a law office. She’s intrigued, despite her better judgment, by Shame Luther, a construction worker moonlighting as a jazz pianist who lives in the neighborhood. While Ndiya keeps her heart closely guarded, Shame can’t help touching the lives of everyone around him, from the neighborhood children he sometimes cooks for to those who go to hear him play music, and eventually he chips away at Ndiya’s emotional barriers. As the novel progresses, its scope widens beyond Chicago to Kenya, where Shame travels to escape Chicago’s brutally corrupt police force, members of which are threatening him. Unwilling to endanger Ndiya, he cuts off contact with her; despite her doubts, she begins to track him down. Pavlic’s prose is simple yet lyrical, which strikingly depicts not only the intricacies of Ndiya and Shame’s relationship, but also a city and its history, as seen through architectural turnover and musical evolution. This is a moving novel about two people finding the strength to move forward together. [em](Mar.) [/em]