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We Cast a Shadow

A Novel
Sprecher: Dion Graham
Spieldauer: 9 Std. und 42 Min.

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“An incisive and necessary” (Roxane Gay) debut for fans of Get Out and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, about a father’s obsessive quest to protect his son - even if it means turning him white

“Stunning and once a pitch-black comedy, a chilling horror story, and an endlessly perceptive novel about the possible future of race in America.” (NPR)

“You can be beautiful, even more beautiful than before.” This is the seductive promise of Dr. Nzinga’s clinic, where anyone can get their lips thinned, their skin bleached, and their nose narrowed. A complete demelanization will liberate you from the confines of being born in a black body - if you can afford it. 

In this near-future Southern city plagued by fenced-in ghettos and police violence, more and more residents are turning to this experimental medical procedure. Like any father, our narrator just wants the best for his son, Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. The darker Nigel becomes, the more frightened his father feels. But how far will he go to protect his son? And will he destroy his family in the process? 

This electrifying, hallucinatory novel is at once a keen satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. At its center is a father who just wants his son to thrive in a broken world. Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s work evokes the clear vision of Ralph Ellison, the dizzying menace of Franz Kafka, and the crackling prose of Vladimir Nabokov. We Cast a Shadow fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.

Praise for We Cast a Shadow

“Love is at the core of this funny, beautiful novel [that] asks some of the most important questions fiction can ask, and it does so with energetic and acrobatic prose, hilarious wordplay, and great heart.... We Cast a Shadow churns fresh beauty from old ugliness.... Read this book, and ask yourself: Is this the world you want?” (Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, The New York Times Book Review)

“A full-throated novelistic debut of ferocious power and grace...a story that refracts the insanity of the world into a shape so unique you wonder how this book wasn’t there all along.” (Lit Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2019)

“Propulsive... We Cast a Shadow proves that the eeriest works of speculative fiction are those that hit closest to home.” (Vulture, 37 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019)

©2019 Maurice Carlos Ruffin (P)2019 Random House Audio


“Set in the post-post-racial South, We Cast a Shadow tells the story of a man - one of the few black men at his law firm - desperate to pay for his biracial son to undergo demelanization, desperate to ‘fix’ what he sees as his son’s fatal flaw. It is this desperation that haunts this novel and, in this desperation, we see just how pernicious racism is, how irrevocably it can alter how a man sees the world, himself, and those he loves. It is a chilling, unforgettable cautionary tale, and one we should all read and heed.” (Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist)

“Like Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and the film Get Out...a singular and unforgettable work of political art.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) 

“Brilliant and devastating.” (Booklist, starred review)

We Cast a Shadow is like a dispatch from the frontlines of the African-American psyche. Written with ruthless intelligence, it’s the story of a father’s love and how he tries to protect his son in a country that devours black lives through violence, incarceration, and poverty.... [Ruffin] can drive his story to the outer limits and beyond, and never lose the threads of bitter reality that make it so haunting. We Cast a Shadow soars on Ruffin’s unerring vision." (Renée Graham, The Boston Globe)

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