Maurice Carlos Ruffin

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Biography

Maurice Carlos Ruffin has been a recipient of an Iowa Review Award in fiction. A native of New Orleans, Ruffin is a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance. His work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Callaloo, Massachusetts Review, The Bitter Southerner, Garden & Gun, and the LA Times. His first novel We Cast a Shadow, was published in 2019 by One World Random House and named a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice.

 


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We Cast a Shadow: A Novel

“An incisive and necessary” (Roxane Gay) debut for fans of Get Out and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, about a father’s obsessive quest to protect his son—even if it means turning him white

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • “Stunning and audacious . . . at once a pitch-black comedy, a chilling horror story and an endlessly perceptive novel about the possible future of race in America.” — NPR

You can be beautiful, even more beautiful than before.” This is the seductive promise of Dr. Nzinga’s clinic, where anyone can get their lips thinned, their skin bleached, and their nose narrowed. A complete demelanization will liberate you from the confines of being born in a black body—if you can afford it.

In this near-future Southern city plagued by fenced-in ghettos and police violence, more and more residents are turning to this experimental medical procedure. Like any father, our narrator just wants the best for his son, Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. The darker Nigel becomes, the more frightened his father feels. But how far will he go to protect his son? And will he destroy his family in the process?

This electrifying, hallucinatory novel is at once a keen satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. At its center is a father who just wants his son to thrive in a broken world. Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s work evokes the clear vision of Ralph Ellison, the dizzying menace of Franz Kafka, and the crackling prose of Vladimir Nabokov. We Cast a Shadow fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love.

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