A sudsy melodrama, to be sure, but one that offers a rare glimpse into the world of gay black men and the challenges they...


A posthumous novel from Harris (Mama Dearest, 2009, etc.), about gay black men seeking acceptance.

At the beginning, Bentley Dean III, scion to a wealthy black Detroit family, breaks off his engagement with the very suitable Kim in order to live an authentic life. And for Bentley that means out of the closet and in a public relationship with his lover Warren. Five years later Bentley is in Miami, disinherited by his homophobic father, dumped by Warren, who refuses to identify as gay, but nonetheless happy to be himself. He and his business partner Alex own an Afro-centric modeling agency (she handles the women, Bentley happily handles the men’s side, which offers the occasional midday treat). But the agency has seen better times; the economy is in free-fall just as the Obama election is coming up. Financial worries force Bentley to book a suspicious modeling assignment—a request for gay-friendly eye candy for a private party. Bentley is assured he won’t be inadvertently pimping out his models, but when he arrives at the all-male event, he suspects that he’ll regret the night. He brings along Jah, an 18 year old that Bentley found in foster care and has mentored over the years. Jah, now in college with noble plans, catches the eye of the host, Seth Sinclair. Married with kids, Seth is a Hollywood megastar with a secret penchant for boys and control. Jah soon gets caught in Seth’s dangerous web, and Bentley is wracked with guilt. Meanwhile, Warren and Bentley reconnect, though Bentley, still in love with Warren, suspects the man hasn’t changed and will always live the double life. All these men can’t compete with the one man Bentley wants back in his life—his father. The best of friends until he came out, Bentley misses his old man and is afraid one day it may be too late for a reconciliation.

A sudsy melodrama, to be sure, but one that offers a rare glimpse into the world of gay black men and the challenges they face.

Pub Date: June 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-54191-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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