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We Cast a Shadow

A Novel
Narrated by: Dion Graham
Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
4 out of 5 stars (50 ratings)

Regular price: $28.00

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Publisher's Summary

“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 audacious...at 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

Critic Reviews

“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)

“Stunning and audacious... at once a pitch-black comedy, a chilling horror story and an endlessly perceptive novel about the possible future of race in America.... Ruffin proves to be a master... a fast-paced and intricately plotted book... The real draw of the novel is Ruffin’s gift at creating unforgettable characters.... He writes with a straight face, never in love with his own cleverness - there are echoes of Ralph Ellison’s intelligent, unshowy prose.... There’s no doubt that We Cast a Shadow, with its sobering look at race in America, can be difficult to read, but it’s more than worth it.... It’s a razor-sharp debut from an urgent new voice of fiction.” (NPR)

“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)

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Fantastic

A fantastic piece of speculative fiction of a reactionary America that is as disturbing as it is familiar. Quick paced and dynamic. Ruffin presents a nightmare whose roots lay at our feet every moment of every day. Bravo to the author and the narrator for their work.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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hood book about race

good ending...the author does a giid job in character development and makes you understand rach person's side

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Just OK

I must be missing the gene that enables you to read a book and think it is wonderful because I read this book and it is just OK. This is not the first time this has happened. I must be missing the good writing recognition gene,

0 of 1 people found this review helpful