Black Card by Chris L. Terry

Book Summary

 

Chris L. Terry’s Black Card is an uncompromising examination of American identity.

In an effort to be “black enough,” a mixed-race punk rock musician indulges his own stereotypical views of African American life by doing what his white bandmates call “black stuff.” After remaining silent during a racist incident, the unnamed narrator has his Black Card revoked by Lucius, his guide through Richmond, Virginia, where Confederate flags and memorials are a part of everyday life.

Determined to win back his Black Card, the narrator sings rap songs at an all-white country music karaoke night, absorbs black pop culture, and attempts to date his black coworker Mona, who is attacked one night. The narrator becomes the prime suspect and earns the attention of John Donahue, a local police officer with a grudge dating back to high school. Forced to face his past, his relationships with his black father and white mother, and the real consequences and dangers of being black in America, the narrator must choose who he is before the world decides for him.

Media Reviews

“This memorable, deeply insightful work has echoes of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Terry’s provocative and timely novel challenges readers to confront the racial stereotypes and injustices in America.” – Publishers Weekly 

“This is a funny novel with sharp insights into the constructed nature of racial identity. However, the plot is thin, the characters largely uninteresting, and the prose workmanlike.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“Chris L. Terry does a magnificent job of dissecting all the ways in which identity both is and isn’t a construct in his brilliant new book, Black Card…Terry employs a fierce humor throughout the narrative, but don’t mistake wit for detachment―this book is deeply moving, a wise meditation on race, authenticity, and belonging.” – Nylon 

Black Card holds many modes and many moods in its packed and tactile narrative. Chris L. Terry has managed to capture, all at once, the complications of being black, being young, and being in love. This is a detailed ride about finding one’s way to the inside, and finding that the inside isn’t all you thought it would be. This book is a mirror, inside of which I saw so many selves.” – Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us and Go Ahead in the Rain 

“Race is false. Race is real. Chris L. Terry allows these two conflicting truths to dance and spar on the pages of his wickedly funny and daringly smart new novel. Black Card is a wonderful and welcome addition to the growing canon of mixed-race literature.” – Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia and New People

Chris L. Terry

Chris L. Terry was born in 1979 to an African-American father and an Irish-American mother. He spent his teens and early 20s touring the U.S. and Europe as the singer in different punk bands. Terry has an MA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Creative Writing MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Terry’s debut novel Zero Fade was on Best of 2013 lists by Slate.com and Kirkus Reviews. Terry lives in Los Angeles with his family. He works as a copywriter and creative writing instructor.

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