From the celebrated author of the “ferociously intelligent and intensely gripping” (Phil Klay) Into the Sun comes a subversive, daring, and at times satirical novel exploring privilege, humanitarianism, white supremacy, and the absurdity of American exceptionalism.
Assigned to write an exposé on Richmond Hew, one of the most elusive and corrupt figures in the conservation world, a journalist finds himself on a plane to the Congo, a country he thinks he understands. But when he meets Sola, a woman searching for a rootless white orphan girl who believes herself possessed by a skin-stealing demon, he slowly uncovers a tapestry of corruption and racial tensions generations in the making.
This harrowing search leads him into an underground network of sinners and saints—and straight to the heart of his own complicity. An anthropologist who treats orphans like test subjects. A community of charismatic Congolese preachers. Street children who share accounts of abandonment and sexual abuse. A renowned and revered conservationist who vanishes. And then there is the journalist himself, lost in his own misunderstanding of privilege and the myth of whiteness, and plagued by traumatic memories of his father. At first seemingly unrelated, these disparate elements coalesce one by one into a map of Richmond Hew’s movements.
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Praise and Prizes
“A compelling literary fantasia . . . Deni Ellis Béchard’s fifth book blends fiction, literary and cultural criticism, parody and memoir . . . it is as unsettling as it is thought-provoking.”
“A tale that feel like James Michener and Gabriel Garcia Márquez joined forces to craft a meditation on race. . . . In White, there is nothing clean cut about the way whiteness manifests in geopolitics . . . Captivating, careening, thrilling, and magical, this is intelligent entertainment.”
“Bechard’s richly nuanced prose and vividly drawn characters make captivating reading while offering provocative food for thought about humanitarianism, corruption, and racial tensions in Africa.”
“Remarkable . . . White is a thriller, an adventure story, a literary novel that interrogates what the possession of whiteness means to those seen as white. His novel also crosses the boundary of the what defines a novel.”
“Béchard makes me think of Graham Greene and Robert Stone, which is heady company, indeed.”
“Ferociously intelligent and intensely gripping.”