Blanche McCrary Boyd

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Tomb of the Unknown Racist

AMAZON: A Best Book of the Month in Literature and Fiction
Amazon designates TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN RACIST one of twelve Best Books of the Month in Literature and Fiction.
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BBC: Ten Books to Read in May
“From a century-spanning Russian novel to an account of the quest for Pluto, these are the titles that should be on your shelf this month, writes Jane Ciabattari.”
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Vanity Fair: 
“The irreverent and honest Blanche McCrary Boyd is back with TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN RACIST (Counterpoint), her first novel in two decades and the last of her trilogy about family secrets, race, and the struggle for the truth. 
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Guernica: 
Read an excerpt of TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN RACIST on Guernica. Guernica is an award-winning non-profit magazine focused on the intersection of arts and politics. It is published in affiliation with The Los Angeles Review of Books, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and disseminating rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts.
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Publishers Weekly:
“This bold, funny, and political novel—Boyd’s first in 20 years—returns readers to the singular voice of Ellen Burns. . . . With the trappings of a thriller, Boyd’s meditation on family bonds and white guilt is a curious but rewarding departure for the loudmouthed and hilarious Ellen, and a satisfyingly strange conclusion to the arc of her wild life.”
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Kirkus Reviews:
“A wildly ambitious page-turner that defies easy categorization . . . A family drama with all the flourishes of a thriller. Discombobulating—in a good way.”

David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon:
“Blanche McCrary Boyd is a literary treasure, and her new novel, Tomb of the Unknown Racist, is a monumental achievement. Gripping and powerful, it illuminates the intricacies of love and betrayal and the pernicious disease of racism—and, in the process, plumbs the depths of the American soul.” 

Hanna Tinti, author of the bestselling novel, The Good Thief: 
“In THE REVOLUTION OF LITTLE GIRLS and TERMINAL VELOCITY, wild child Ellen Burns breaks and rebuilds herself over and over while questioning the world with her razor-sharp, southern wit. Now author Blanche Boyd gives us Ellen’s thrilling final chapter. Part detective story, part spiritual quest, TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN RACIST explores the intricate world of the white supremacy movement, and the treacherous ways that racism shatters families and spreads its dark roots across America. Former addict, fugitive, and radical outlaw Ellen Burns pieces together the mystery of her right-wing brother’s death and the tragic kidnapping of his grandchildren, while trying to stay sober and falling in and out of bed with the men and women who cross her path. A character both innocent and wise, searching and grounded, she sees the worst in the good, and the good in the worst. We need more “old outlaws” like Ellen Burns, who try to right the wrongs of the world, even when they’re impossible to change.”

About the Book

Blanche’s first novel in twenty years continues the story of her compelling and edgy protagonist Ellen Burns. When TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN RACIST opens in 1999, Ellen—now sober, haunted by her activist past, her failed relationships, the world at large—is peacefully taking care of her demented mother in South Carolina. Ellen’s brother Royce was a celebrated novelist who, a decade earlier, saw his work adopted by racists and fell under the sway of white supremacy. Ellen thought him dead from a botched FBI raid on his compound. But when his estranged daughter turns up on the news, claiming he might be responsible for kidnapping her two mixed-race children, Ellen travels to New Mexico to help her newfound niece. The book chronicles Ellen’s search for Royce, her descent into the dark abyss of the burgeoning race war of our country, and the confrontation that occurs when she learns the truth about her family’s past.

TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN RACIST is a thrilling novel set in the shadow of the Oklahoma City bombing and the subculture of white supremacy and deep state government that is horribly applicable to today’s news cycle. A family story set against political and racial struggle, it is based on real life events surrounding William Luther Pierce, Timothy McVeigh, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. The tour de force end to a trilogy, that like no other fiction, has offered a survey of politics and activism across the American experience.

Blanche McCrary Boyd grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, the source of her ‘redneck’ roots, and much of her writing radiates from her Southern background. Her works traverse the racial and political contradictions of the second half of the 20th century, intertwining personal and psychological adventures with feminist protests, lesbianism, racial conflicts, and a confrontation with the violent white supremacist subculture.