cover image And All Our Wounds Forgiven

And All Our Wounds Forgiven

Julius Lester. Arcade Publishing, $27 (228pp) ISBN 978-1-55970-258-4

Veteran novelist Lester ( Do Lord Remember Me ) here takes on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in a story that resonates with anguish and authenticity. The author uses flashbacks and a range of voices to tell the tale of his King stand-in, John Calvin Marshall, and to comment on the current state of the civil rights movement. After an introductory monologue by Marshall, the narrative jumps to the present as Marshall's white mistress, Lisa Adams, speaks to the slain leader's widow, Andrea, who's lying comatose in a hospital bed. Lisa provides poignant memories of her long affair with Marshall, while Bobby Card, a militant Marshall colleague who was tortured by a white Southern sheriff in the '60s, vents his anger and his own racial chauvinism. The unconscious Andrea, meanwhile, offers in response an interior monologue on her fear of losing her husband and on the irony of knowing about his white lover. For all the power of the other voices, though, Marshall's is the most stirring of all, musing on the forces of history, the strengths and weaknesses of those closest to him and his chilling conversations with LBJ, Malcolm X, the Kennedys and other political luminaries of the time. Lester's emotionally wrenching novel brings the civil rights movement full circle, and few readers will finish the book without a new perspective on the racial divisiveness that plagues America today. (June)