Sunday, December 22, 2019

Five of the greatest American social crime novels

Steph Cha's new novel is Your House Will Pay.

At Book Marks she shared five American social crime novels with Jane Ciabattari, including:
Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

I’d categorize Locke’s entire body of work as social crime fiction––she knows how to cut deep with the tools of crime fiction, laying bare the systemic dysfunctions that lead to violence. Her newest, Heaven, My Home, reckons directly with white supremacy in the Trump era.

JC: In her Highway 59 series about a black Texas Ranger, who as this novel begins is investigating a double murder involving the “Aryan Brotherhood of Texas,” Locke seems to be filling in the back story on the white supremacist groups that have become more visible since the 2016 election but have always been woven into the landscape of East Texas. Did you encounter surprises in her sections about the region’s social history?

SC: Yes, definitely. I don’t want to give too much away, but I was especially fascinated by the story of Hopetown, a historic freedmen’s community, and the fight for its land. The first book of Locke’s I read was The Cutting Season, a superb mystery that turned on property ownership. So much of American history has been defined by the thwarting of black property rights and home ownership, from enslavement to redlining to gentrification, and that history is nothing if not a series of egregious crimes. I’d actually love to see more crime fiction that delves into this territory.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue