The only fire will be the remaindered ashes from this unconvincing and tedious narrative of a black man's radicalization. The process, most unbelievably, is started when Shadow rescues a blond white liberal named Terri from a Panther-type gang about to liberate her body; he works in a sewing-machine factory, and she works in a Newark store-front for addicts. He tells her ""A black man can't trust no other country as much as he can trust America,"" and she drags him to plays in the City to prove that this ain't so. Meanwhile they dance to James Brown in Shadow's dingy apartment and make love under his red light bulb, where he can do everything but come inside his own special incarnation of a Playboy centerfold. After hassles with the girl (because he can't come), with the cops (because they're cops), and the ""Afro bros"" (because they consider him Uncle Tom-ish), Shadow becomes angry enough to quit his job and become instant black power expert and leader of the gang -- which, except for the color of their skins, is no more revolutionary than any bunch of thugs with a gun. Torn between hate and love (""I cried for Terri & I cried for Abroad: I wept bitterly for the Ku Klux Klan and B'Nai B'Rith; I died in Mississippi and Vietnam; shed tears for President Nixon and Martin Luther King""), a confrontation with some brutal police sends him irrevocably down the Muslim path of No Return. This smug and preachy parable, full of fuzzy thinking and sexual metaphysics, is no credit to anybody -- white, black, or author.