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Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Deacon King Kong by James McBride, Magazineup

Deacon King Kong

BOOK ∙ 2020

James McBride

Oprah calls her new book club pick “inspiring, with a Shakespearean cast of characters—and funny too.” Since 2013’s The Good Lord Bird, James McBride’s first novel isn’t a whodunit—it’s a whydunit.

Set in an extensive housing project in ’60s Brooklyn, the book starts with a bang when “Sportcoat,” a moonshine-loving church deacon, shoots a young drug dealer in broad daylight.

Sportcoat doesn’t remember exactly what he’s done or why, but what unfolds is less a criminal investigation than a fast-moving and loopy story that seamlessly veers from murder mystery to bawdy slapstick comedy to heartfelt meditation on grief, love, and community.

As everyone in the neighbourhood alters to the crime in their own unique fashion, we get to know a rich array of charming, complex characters with great nicknames like Hot Sausage, Sister Bum-Bum, and the Elephant. Deacon King Kong is a big, vibrant novel with a beautiful sense of its place and time. It’s an absolute joy to read.


Deacon King Kong: A Novel (Unabridged)


James McBride

Oprah calls her new book club pick “inspiring, with a Shakespearean cast of characters—and funny too.” James McBride’s first novel since 2013’s acclaimed The Good Lord Bird isn’t a whodunit, it’s a whydunit. In 1960s Brooklyn, a moonshine-loving church deacon nicknamed Sportcoat walks into a housing project and shoots a drug dealer. But he can’t remember why he did it. The openhearted story that unfolds is much more than a straightforward crime mystery, veering seamlessly from heartfelt meditations on grief to bawdy slapstick comedy as everyone in the neighborhood reacts to the murder in their own special way. From the moment he first steps into the shoes of McBride’s trigger-happy, porkpie-hat-wearing hero, veteran narrator Dominic Hoffman skillfully adapts to every shift in tone. He inhabits a colorful array of characters with great nicknames like the Elephant and Hot Sausage. This audiobook really drives home that Deacon King Kong is a vivid, life-affirming joy of a novel.

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