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Deacon King Kong  By  cover art

Deacon King Kong

By: James McBride
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
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Publisher's summary

Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction

Winner of the Gotham Book Prize

One of Barack Obama's "Favorite Books of the Year"

Oprah's Book Club Pick

Named one of the Top 10 Books of the Year by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and Time Magazine

A Washington Post Notable Novel

From the author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird and the best-selling modern classic The Color of Water comes one of the most celebrated novels of the year.

In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in South Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and, in front of everybody, shoots the project's drug dealer at point-blank range.

The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride's funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the White neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood's Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.

As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters - caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York - overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.

Bringing both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, James McBride has written a novel every bit as involving as The Good Lord Bird and as emotionally honest as The Color of Water. Told with insight and wit, Deacon King Kong demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us.

©2020 James McBride (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

Deacon King Kong is deeply felt, beautifully written and profoundly humane; McBride’s ability to inhabit his characters’ foibled, all-too-human interiority helps transform a fine book into a great one.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“A hilarious, pitch-perfect comedy set in the Brooklyn projects of the late 1960s. This alone may qualify it as one of the year’s best novels. However, McBride...has constructed a story with a deeper meaning for those who choose to read beyond the plot, one that makes the work funnier, sweeter, and more profound.” (The Washington Post)

“The sheer volume of invention in Deacon King Kong - on the level of both character...and language - commands awe.... And the sentences! The prose radiates a kind of chain-reaction energy.” (The New Yorker)

"McBride’s hilarious dialogue and an attention to detail reveals a complex local history. Capturing humanity through satire and witticisms, McBride draws everyday heroes." (Time)

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