cover image Zebratown: The True Story of a Black Ex-Con and a White Single Mother in Small Town America

Zebratown: The True Story of a Black Ex-Con and a White Single Mother in Small Town America

Greg Donaldson, Author . Scribner $24 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4391-5378-9

After a photo of Kevin Davis was used as the cover art for Donaldson’s first book, The Ville , Davis was identified, arrested, and convicted on a weapons charge. The two men met in 2002, a year after Davis completed his seven-year sentence, and the ex-con persuades the author “that his warrior ethic, his prison exploits, and his connection to the rap music world should be the subject of a book.” Donaldson obliges, following his subject through prison stints, jobs, and relationships with women. “Sub-Saharan black” Kevin “loves white girls, always has,” and the book follows his partner, the pseudonymous “trim blond woman” Karen Tanski as well. Donaldson has a dubious capacity for entering the mind of his subjects, and his tone ranges from purple to pulp (“Sure, Margaret favored light skin when it came to beauty, but when it came to sexual attraction, a light-skinned man couldn’t do anything but show her where to find a black man”), accented with descriptions of nature and historical tidbits. While putatively a serious sociological study, this book reads more like clunky urban lit. (Aug.)