Black Card

Chris L. Terry (Author)
Available

Description

In this NPR Best Book of the Year, a mixed-race punk rock musician must face the real dangers of being Black in America in this "wise meditation on race, authenticity, and belonging" (Nylon).

Chris L. Terry's Black Card is an uncompromising examination of American identity. In an effort to be "Black enough," a mixed-race punk rock musician indulges his own stereotypical views of African American life by doing what his white bandmates call "Black stuff." After remaining silent during a racist incident, the unnamed narrator has his Black Card revoked by Lucius, his guide through Richmond, Virginia, where Confederate flags and memorials are a part of everyday life.

Determined to win back his Black Card, the narrator sings rap songs at an all-white country music karaoke night, absorbs black pop culture, and attempts to date his Black coworker Mona, who is attacked one night. The narrator becomes the prime suspect, earning the attention of John Donahue, a local police officer with a grudge dating back to high school. Forced to face his past, his relationships with his black father and white mother, and the real consequences and dangers of being Black in America, the narrator must choose who he is before the world decides for him.

Product Details

Price
$16.95  $15.59
Publisher
Catapult
Publish Date
August 11, 2020
Pages
272
Dimensions
5.4 X 0.9 X 8.1 inches | 0.55 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781646220199
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

CHRIS L. TERRY was born in 1979 to an African American father and an Irish American mother. He has a BA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and a creative writing MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Terry's debut novel, Zero Fade, was named a Best Book of the Year by Slate and Kirkus Reviews. Terry lives in Los Angeles with his family.

Reviews

Praise for Black Card

One of NPR's Best Books of the Year
Los Angeles Times, 1 of 7 Highly Anticipated Books to Get You Through the Dog Days of August

"Black Card holds many modes and many moods in its packed and tactile narrative. Chris L. Terry has managed to capture, all at once, the complications of being black, being young, and being in love. This is a detailed ride about finding one's way to the inside, and finding that the inside isn't all you thought it would be. This book is a mirror, inside of which I saw so many selves." --Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us and Go Ahead in the Rain

"Hilariously searing . . . As Terry so cleverly and poignantly points out, the narrator's split personality embodies the soul of America itself. And with deadpan comic timing, sensitive insight, and taut, terse prose, Terry plunges the reader into his turmoil. Like nature, racial identity in America abhors a vacuum. If you don't fill in your own identity, as Black Card illustrates, someone else will. Striking a superb balance between levity and heaviness, Terry crafts an enormously fun read about a decidedly less than fun topic." --Jason Heller, NPR

"Black Card is a bold and affecting novel--funny, infuriating and at times profound. Terry is a new talent who's managed to examine race in America like few writers before him. This fresh and innovative novel explores both whiteness and blackness in contemporary America." --Scott Neuffer, Shelf Awareness (starred review)

"Terry's wry sense of humor and caustic wit is reminiscent of Joe Meno's Hairstyles of the Damned and Todd Taylor's Shirley Wins. Black Card is a powerful reflection on race and identity that packs a punk rock punch." --Jim Ruland, San Diego CityBeat

"The need to belong is a fundamental human motivation. We require meaningful social bonds--so much so that, according to one study, the threat of rejection can prompt reactions comparable to physical pain. So while intellectually, it's easy to dismiss the narrator's self-pity and desperation to embody stereotypical concepts of blackness, it's impossible to ignore the real and deep place they come from. Black Card functions like a manifestation of this innately human drive to connect." --Rawiya Kameir, Pitchfork

"The novel is a funny, warm take on serious subjects, exploring race and identity in America with depth, nuance, and humor." --Rebecca Hussey, Book Riot

"Perhaps nothing can feel more elusive than determining your own identity, but Chris L. Terry does a magnificent job of dissecting all the ways in which identity both is and isn't a construct in his brilliant new book, Black Card . . . Terry employs a fierce humor throughout the narrative, but don't mistake wit for detachment--this book is deeply moving, a wise meditation on race, authenticity, and belonging." --Kristin Iversen, Nylon

"I love this book. Provocative, warm-hearted, and often hilarious, Black Card tells the story of a biracial punk rocker searching for his place in a largely white world. He's come to feel that his sole black friend holds the key to his identity, and the pressure and expectations of this friendship come to a head in a community where racism takes countless subtle and overt forms. Terry is a remarkable writer, and Black Card oughta be on every summer reading list."--J. Ryan Stradal, The Rumpus

"I'm incredibly happy to see that this month brings with it a novel, Black Card, that deals with both punk rock and the complexities of race in America. This falls into the realm of books I've been thrilled about since they were first announced, and I'm glad to see it out in the world and sparking heated discussions and thoughtful consideration--just like the best punk rock." --Tobias Carroll, Literary Hub

"A fascinating meditation on race, with a head-nodding soundtrack that moves from funk LPs to punk CDs, Guns N' Roses to Outkast . . . Terry's novel explores what Blackness means to someone who feels both a part of and alienated from community, and in so doing it confronts whiteness as it attempts to erase or dictate Black identity." --Brian Gresko, Electric Literature

"What gives Terry a vantage point of interest is his ability to see an object from different sides of America's ever-present invisible wall and use this perspective to show us just how fragile the concept of identity is while reminding us how very real its effects can be for our physical health, our mental health, and our very freedom. From getting too drunk before you play, to dealing with people's preconceptions, the backdrops he creates feel familiar without being cliché, making for a novel based in the punk rock stratosphere without any cringe-worthy moments. I'm already excited to see what's next. Definitely recommended." --Rene Navarro, Razorcake

"Chris L. Terry's Black Card is a novel about race in America that's serious and unflinching while remaining tender and funny. It's a novel about compassion and anger, hip hop and punk, cops and young black men. At its core, Black Card is a book driven by the search for identity. Since this is Razorcake, we believe the world needs more top-quality fiction that doesn't fetishize or force punk into too-neat nostalgic containers. It also needs stories that are told directly from working class punk perspectives, not from slumming squares. Chris L. Terry's Black Card succeeds on so many levels. Not only is it a truthful novel with weight and humanity, it's a compelling and fast read. I can't recommend Black Card enough." --Todd Taylor, Razorcake

"[A] darkly humorous coming-of-age novel . . . This memorable, deeply insightful work has echoes of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Terry's provocative and timely novel challenges readers to confront the racial stereotypes and injustices in America." --Publishers Weekly

"This is a funny novel with sharp insights [into the constructed nature of racial identity]." --Kirkus Reviews

"Chris L. Terry's new satirical and funny novel, Black Card (272 pages), challenges ideas about race and identity as it follows its unnamed mixed-race narrator as he navigates the complex world of the punk rock scene in the American South, trying to understand where and how he can fit in--or if he can ever fit in. Structured episodically, Terry's novel manages to address specific and thematically relevant incidents of the narrator's life minus an overwhelming page count . . . Black Card's critical look at racial identity in America sees the cracks in everything and calls out everyone, the narrator included. It's a brilliant comedy that speaks to what America is right now." --A. M. Larks, ZYZZYVA

"One might consider this an adult version of Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give (2017) and other Black coming-of-age stories . . . Overall, this is a welcome tale that undercuts stereotypical portrayals of Blackness. Terry's biracial punk musician's struggle with his Black identity and the novel's edgy humor will intrigue literary YAs." --Booklist

"[A] great new novel . . . Terry describes the appeal of rap's more violent, darker impulses in a beautiful, direct way." --Tom Breihan, Stereogum

"Black Card is an illuminating portrait of a young man who is confronted by a world that (quite erroneously) feels his blackness and his punkness should be conflicting interests . . . Black Card serves as a document proving [black punks are] not alone in their tastes, in their struggles to connect with others, in their beautiful identities." --Douglas Martin, Passion of the Weiss

"[A] hilariously unnerving novel . . . Black Card is probing, revelatory and deftly toes it's way through the murky waters of the bi-racial experience. Chris L. Terry is infinitely wise and the heir apparent to the likes of Paul Beatty and Percival Everett. Read this book if you give a damn." --BookPeople blog

"Race is false. Race is real. Chris L. Terry allows these two conflicting truths to dance and spar on the pages of his wickedly funny and daringly smart new novel. Black Card is a wonderful and welcome addition to the growing canon of mixed-race literature." --Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia and New People

"Chris L. Terry is so damn good at peeling back all the tricky layers of race and identity and belonging, and grappling with all the icky stuff of being young and trying to figure out how to be. I'm a '90s kid who spent my afternoons earnestly taping obscure rock songs off college radio in suburban Chicagoland, so Black Card feels like it was written explicitly for me. It's a hilarious and honest examination of race and punk authenticity that's probably gonna feel like it was written for you, too." --Samantha Irby, author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

"Black Card takes the search for the self through a sharp and surreal map of punk-southern-rap-rock Virginia, drawn and crossed in racial lines and guided by the heart and wit of Chris L.Terry's indelible characters. A kickflip classic." --Amelia Gray, author of Isadora: A Novel and Gutshot: Stories

"With Black Card, Chris L. Terry has written a sly, funny, melancholy take on race and performing identity in America. A love letter to the DIY scene of the 1990s as well as a portrait of an artist as a young, confused man, this novel is a truly unique exploration of what it takes to build a sense of self in a world dictated by the unbending rules of race and capitalism." --Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman

"Terry crafts a novel we haven't quite seen before: the rare book about racial identity that eschews heaviness without ever feeling lightweight. Black Card is lively, nuanced, and always a step ahead of the reader. This is a must-read book about navigating life as a biracial person in a nation uncomfortable with any identity that is not white." --Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow