cover image Greenland


David Santos Donaldson. Amistad, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-315955-6

Donaldson’s assured debut finds Kip Starling, a Black queer man of Caribbean descent, writing a novel about E.M. Forster’s love for a Black man named Mohammed El Adl. But Kip, who has locked himself in his Brooklyn basement with a gun, is battling writer’s block. In addition, his white husband, Ben, wants a divorce, and he’s estranged from his best friend, Concha (“If you close your eyes, you can’t tell it’s not Emma Thompson speaking,” he says of her). Donaldson juxtaposes lengthy passages from Kip’s novel on racism and invisibility with Kip’s own experiences with microaggressions. Later, he boards a plane for London, which makes an emergency landing in Greenland. There, he meets a gay Black man named Mohammed who wants to take Kip into the wilderness to build an igloo “where no white man will reach us. Where we can finally be who we really are.” The multiple story lines intrigue, and the writing—“the thick air clung to my skin... like a jilted lover”—is crisp, but Donaldson overstuffs the narrative with ideas to the point that it loses shape. The author clearly has talent, and his work’s many fine points suggest he’s one to keep an eye on. Agent: Tom Miller, Liza Dawson Assoc. (June)