Books

Black on Black: On Our Resilience and Brilliance in America

A piercing collection of essays on racial tension in America and the ongoing fight for visibility, change, and lasting hope

“There are stories that must be told.”

Acclaimed novelist and scholar Daniel Black has spent a career writing into the unspoken, fleshing out, through storytelling, pain that can’t be described.

Now, in his debut essay collection, Black gives voice to the experiences of those who often find themselves on the margins. Tackling topics ranging from police brutality to the AIDS crisis to the role of HBCUs to queer representation in the black church, Black on Black celebrates the resilience, fortitude, and survival of black people in a land where their body is always on display.

As Daniel Black reminds us, while hope may be slow in coming, it always arrives, and when it does, it delivers beyond the imagination. Propulsive, intimate, and achingly relevant, Black on Black is cultural criticism at its openhearted best.

Don’t Cry for Me

As Jacob lies dying, he begins to write a letter to his only son, Isaac. They have not met or spoken in many years, and there are things that Isaac must know. Stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extend back to slavery. Secrets from Jacob’s tumultuous relationship with Isaac’s mother and the shame he carries from the dissolution of their family. Tragedies that informed Jacob’s role as a father and his reaction to Isaac’s being gay.

But most of all, Jacob must share with Isaac the unspoken truths that reside in his heart. He must give voice to the trauma that Isaac has inherited. And he must create a space for the two to find peace.

With piercing insight and profound empathy, acclaimed author Daniel Black illuminates the lived experiences of Black fathers and queer sons, offering an authentic and ultimately hopeful portrait of reckoning and reconciliation. Spare as it is sweeping, poetic as it is compulsively readable, Don’t Cry for Me is a monumental novel about one family grappling with love’s hard edges and the unexpected places where hope and healing take flight.

Listen to the Lambs

In Listen to the Lambs by Daniel Black, nothing can convince Lazarus Love III to return to the lifestyle of affluence and social status he once knew. Longing for a freedom of the soul that the world of capitalism cannot provide, Lazarus leaves all that he knows–including his wife and children–to achieve the ultimate level of peace and silence living as a homeless man. When his quest causes him to cross paths with four other wanderers, all of whom later call themselves “the family,” a shocking, brutal act leaves Lazarus in a dire position and his newfound family must struggle to save him. By doing so, both families–past and present–are redeemed and consequently learn the beauty of sacrificial love.

Perfect Peace

As seen on TikTok, Daniel Black’s Perfect Peace is the heartbreaking portrait of a large, rural southern family’s attempt to grapple with their mother’s desperate decision to make her newborn son into the daughter she will never have—“a complex, imaginative story of one unforgettable black family in mid-twentieth century Arkansas” (Atlanta Magazine).

When the seventh child of the Peace family, named Perfect, turns eight, her mother Emma Jean tells her bewildered daughter, “You was born a boy. I made you a girl. But that ain’t what you was supposed to be. So, from now on, you gon’ be a boy. It’ll be a little strange at first, but you’ll get used to it, and this’ll be over after while.”

From this point forward, Perfect’s life becomes a bizarre kaleidoscope of events—while the rest of his family is forced to question everything they thought they knew about gender, sexuality, unconditional love, and fulfillment.

The Coming

“The Coming is powerful. And beautiful…This is a work to be proud of.”–Charles Johnson, National Book Award winner for Middle Passage

Lyrical, poetic, and hypnotizing, The Coming tells the story of a people’s capture and sojourn from their homeland across the Middle Passage–a traumatic trip that exposed the strength and resolve of the African spirit. Extreme conditions produce extraordinary insight, and only after being stripped of everything do they discover the unspeakable beauty they once took for granted. This powerful, haunting novel will shake readers to their very souls.

“Part homage to the proud and diverse cultures of Africa, part nightmare of the people stolen from those lands, The Coming seduces us with poetry, then breaks our hearts, but ultimately inspires us to celebrate the indomitable soul of humanity.” —George Weinstein, author of Hardscrabble Road

The Sacred Place

In the summer of 1955, fourteen-year-old Clement enters a general store in Money, Mississippi to purchase a soda. Unaware of the consequences of flouting the rules governing black-white relations in the South, this Chicago native defies tradition, by laying a dime on the counter and turns to depart. Miss Cuthbert, the store attendant, demands that he place the money in her hand, but he refuses, declaring, “I ain’t no slave!” and exits with a sense of entitlement unknown to black people at the time. His behavior results in his brutal murder. This event sparks a war in Money, forcing the black community to galvanize its strength in pursuit of equality.

They Tell Me of a Home

A novel of self-discovery, family bonds and the healing of one small southern town

Twelve Gates to the City is the much-anticipated sequel to Black’s acclaimed debut, They Tell Me of a Home. In this novel, Sister assumes the voice of the narrator, speaking from the spirit realm, telling her brother TL things he could have never known about their family. She constructs the story as a series of spiritual revelations, exposing to readers both who she was in the years of TL’s absence and how every event in his life was an orchestration for his return.

TL in the meantime is back in Swamp Creek, to stay this time, but he’s still haunted by his sister’s death. His decision to become the Schoolmaster is the only thing he’s sure about, and his impact upon the students becomes palpable. But he still doesn’t know what happened to Sister. As he searches for ultimate truth, he discovers the secrets and beauty of Swamp Creek.

Twelve Gates to the City is a novel about spiritual revelation, and communal healing, ushered in by one who finally realizes that his gifts were bestowed upon him, not for his own glory, but for the transformation of his people.

Twelve Gates to the City

A novel of self-discovery, family bonds and the healing of one small southern town

Twelve Gates to the City is the much-anticipated sequel to Black’s acclaimed debut, They Tell Me of a Home. In this novel, Sister assumes the voice of the narrator, speaking from the spirit realm, telling her brother TL things he could have never known about their family. She constructs the story as a series of spiritual revelations, exposing to readers both who she was in the years of TL’s absence and how every event in his life was an orchestration for his return.

TL in the meantime is back in Swamp Creek, to stay this time, but he’s still haunted by his sister’s death. His decision to become the Schoolmaster is the only thing he’s sure about, and his impact upon the students becomes palpable. But he still doesn’t know what happened to Sister. As he searches for ultimate truth, he discovers the secrets and beauty of Swamp Creek.

Twelve Gates to the City is a novel about spiritual revelation, and communal healing, ushered in by one who finally realizes that his gifts were bestowed upon him, not for his own glory, but for the transformation of his people.