A singular and powerful debut novel about a young black American learning the difficulties of forming your own identity when society has already assigned you one
Like most recent college graduates, Jonah Winters is unsure of what’s next. A young black American raised in France and living in New York City, he tries on a couple of careers only to find that nothing feels right. And as Jonah struggles to envision his future, he feels pressured by his friends and family to put the struggles of his community before his search for self.
But then a chance encounter with an ex-NBA player with his own regrets, inspires Jonah to take his life into his own hands. Deciding to leave the country entirely, he sets off for Brazil. And as he makes and breaks friendships on the way, reflects on his past relationships, and learns to rely on himself, Jonah slowly forms an understanding of self, community, and freedom that is rarely afforded to young black men.
A most anticipate book from The Millions
“An acclaimed African American essayist puts forth a first novel whose quirky romanticism, vivid landscapes, and digressive storytelling owe more to classic European cinema than conventional literature … An intellectually stimulating fiction debut.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“In his insightful debut, writer, editor, and Harvard professor McCarthy explores the tension between community and individual perceptions of Black identity in different cultures… Superb storytelling.” —Booklist
“A gorgeous, virtuosic novel! In exquisite, often ecstatic, prose, McCarthy gives us a portrait of the artist as a young black man–or rather, as a set of young black men, brothers and friends and rivals. This is blackness as it collides with class and love. Blackness in its uneasy relationship to Europe and the Americas. Blackness in all of its inner intricacy, tension, and beauty. Blackness shattered from the inside, each facet spinning, in McCarthy’s own words, in ”a hypnotic dance like shards in a kaleidoscope.” —Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift
“The debut novel from McCarthy, Harvard professor and author of essays destined to be taught in classrooms for years to come (among them “Notes on Trap”), The Fugitivities takes place in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Brazil, with Parisian interludes. The novel explores the collision of a teacher in crisis with a basketball coach yearning for a lost love, carrying the former on a journey that will change everything.” —Lydia Kiesling, The Millions Most Anticipated Books 2019