cover image Tomb of the Unknown Racist

Tomb of the Unknown Racist

Blanche McCrary Boyd. Counterpoint, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-64009-067-5

This bold, funny, and political novel—Boyd’s first in 20 years—returns readers to the singular voice of Ellen Burns (The Revolution of Little Girls; Terminal Velocity). No longer the radical addict of her younger years, Ellen is now in her 50s and tirelessly sober, caring for her dementia-fogged mother near her childhood home in 1990s Charleston, S.C. Their relative peace is interrupted by the news that Ellen’s brother, Royce, a notorious white supremacist believed dead, might still be alive. He might even be responsible for the kidnapping of his multiethnic grandchildren, a story that explodes onto national news, sending Ellen on a whirlwind journey to a New Mexico reservation to try and help her long-lost niece. But when the truth about the kidnapping comes to light, Ellen is left in the center of a storm of controversy, along with the local police chief and a budding journalist. The novel is incredibly fast-paced and nearly lighthearted at times, despite its dark and tangled subject matter. With the trappings of a thriller, Boyd’s meditation on family bonds and white guilt is a curious but rewarding departure for the loudmouthed and hilarious Ellen, and a satisfyingly strange conclusion to the arc of her wild life. (May)