We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin – [Book Club]

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We Cast A Shadow

by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Published 1/29/2019

Interview with Maurice Carlos Ruffin: https://therumpus.net/2019/03/the-rumpus-interview-with-maurice-carlos-ruffin/

Element of Sacrifice: Interview with Maurice Carlos Ruffin – Paris Review: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2019/01/30/element-of-sacrifice-an-interview-with-maurice-carlos-ruffin/

De-Melanization Procedure: A Conversation with Maurice Carlos Ruffin – LA Review of Books: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/de-melanization-procedure-a-conversation-with-maurice-carlos-ruffin/


Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the author of We Cast a Shadow, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the PEN/Open Book Award and longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. A recipient of an Iowa Review Award in fiction, he has been published in Virginia Quarterly Review, AGNI, Kenyon Review, Massachusetts Review, and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. A native of New Orleans, he is a graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance.


How far would you go to protect your child?

“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.

As Kirkus Review says “Ruffin’s surrealist take on racism owes much to [Ralph Ellison’s] Invisible Man and George S. Schuyler’s similarly themed 1931 satire, Black No More. Yet the ominous resurgence of white supremacy during the Trump era enhances this novel’s resonance and urgency.” https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/maurice-carlos-ruffin/we-cast-a-shadow/

Listen to an audio clip excerpt:

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