Deacon King Kong: A Novel
Editors Pick

Deacon King Kong: A Novel

James McBride

400 pages

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 Ten Books of the Year by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and TIME Magazine
Washington Post Notable Novel
From the author of the National Book Award–winning 
The Good Lord Bird and the bestselling modern classic The Color of Water, comes one of the most celebrated novels of the year.

In his 2013 National Book Award winner, “The Good Lord Bird”, James McBride transforms the story of abolitionist John Brown’s failed raid on Harper’s Ferry into a humorous, life affirming adventure about identity, self-determination and faithful living. McBride brings this same joyful exuberance to the story of life in a housing project in Brooklyn in his 2020 novel “Deacon King Kong”. The book opens with the shooting of a young gang banger by an elderly church deacon known as Sportcoat, but the reader eventually discovers that even this violence is an act of love. McBride peoples his novel with a wide cast of vivid characters who despite having neither ethnicity, age nor life experiences in common all live together in relative harmony in The Causeway Housing Projects. The story of Sportcoat and the shooting of Deems, a budding gang leader and former baseball star of the team Sportcoat coached, reveals the overlapping lives of the whole community. McBride, himself the child of a Black man and a white Polish mother (“The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother” by McBride 2012), grew up in a similar housing project and has an eye for the rhythms of life there. Living as we do in a time of worldwide racial and ethnic violence, “Deacon King Kong” rings with hope that if we meet each other as people rather than ideas we can make our world a better place.