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Twelve original and interconnected stories in the traditions of Junot Díaz and Sherman Alexie. Victor D. LaValle's astonishing, violent, and funny debut offers harrowing glimpses at the vulnerable lives of young people who struggle not only to come of age, but to survive the city streets.
In "ancient history," two best friends graduating from high school fight to be the one to leave first for a better world; each one wants to be the fortunate son. In "pops," an African-American boy meets his father, a white cop from Connecticut, and tries not to care. And in "kids on colden street," a boy is momentarily uplifted by the arrival of a younger sister only to discover that brutality leads only to brutality in the natural order of things.
Written with raw candor, grit, and a cautious heart, slapboxing with jesus introduces an exciting and bold new craftsman of contemporary fiction. LaValle's voices echo long after their stories are told.
Praise for Slapboxing with Jesus
"Victor D. LaValle is a miracle. He's funny and tragic, he has an eye as sharp as a gem cutter's. He is the rarest of breeds, a natural artist."--Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours
"Once in a long while, a new voice in fiction rings so true that we must pay attention. Victor D. LaValle transforms streetsmart reality into an urban poetry of endurance. An energy and surprising humor informs LaValle's collection in which each beautifully observed, perfectly heard story builds toward a fierce affirmation still possible in art."--Maureen Howard, author of A Lover's Almanac