Writers Who Read #36

5 December 2021

Deacon King Kong
by James McBride

Author/Publisher Intent

Stylistic Choices

Structure, Pacing

Climax - what changed?

Scene sleuthing

Deacon King Kong - James McBride

  • Marketing: Black & African American Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
  • Genre: Realistic Historical Archplot Long-Form
  • Print Pages:
  • Word count: 121,803; Avg. wds/sent.: 10.65
  • Reading Level: Grade 6; Lexical Density: 49.82
  • Flesch Reading Ease: 80.31

  • POV: Various (incl. ants); 3rd Person; Tense: Past

  • Publish date: March 3, 2020
  • Paperback release: February 2, 2021
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • Sold By: Penguin / Random House
  • Audio book narr.: Dominic Hoffman (14 hrs, 5 mins)

  • About James McBride      
  • Education: B.A. from Oberlin College, Masters in journalism from Columbia University
  • Professional: Formerly, reporter for The Washington Post and People magazine, Currently, Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at New York University
  • Author: 4 novels: Miracle at St. Anna, Song Yet Sung, The Good Lord Bird, Deacon King Kong
    a short story collection: Five-Carat Soul
    a memoir: The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
    a book about James Brown: Kill 'Em and Leave
  • Music: Jazz composer (Right to Return, Bobos) & tenor saxophonist (Little Jimmy Scott, Rock Bottom Remainders)

"And there [the ants] stayed, a sole phenomenon in the Republic of Brooklyn, where cats hollered like people, dogs ate their own feces, aunties chain-smoked and died at age 102, a kid named Spike Lee saw God, the ghosts of the departed Dodgers soaked up all possibility of new hope, and penniless desperation ruled the life of the suckers too black or too poor to leave, while in Manhattan the buses ran on time, the lights never went out, the death of a single white child in a traffic accident was a page one story, while phony versions of black and Latino life ruled the Broadway roost, making white writers rich—West Side Story, Porgy & Bess, Purlie Victorious—and on it went, the whole business of the white man’s reality lumping together like a giant, lopsided snowball, the Great American Myth, the Big Apple, the Big Kahuna, the City That Never Sleeps, while the blacks and Latinos who cleaned the apartments and dragged out the trash and made the music and filled the jails with sorrow slept the sleep of the invisible and functioned as local color."
- Deacon King Kong: The March of the Ants

"A man who does not trust cannot be trusted.”
- Deacon King Kong: The Country Girl

Around the Table

Please use passages from the book

Novel Countour Map

Writers Who Read: Coming Up

January 2: No One Is Talking About This - Patricia Lockwood (USA, 2021)
February 6: Klara and the Sun - Kazuo Ishiguro (UK, 2021)
March 6: The Plot - Jean Hanff Korelitz (USA, 2021)
April 3: The Promise - Damon Galgut (S. Africa, 2021)
May 1: Intimacies - Katie Kitamura (USA, 2021)
June 5: Crossroads - Jonathan Franzen (USA, 2021)

Thanks to: Boulder Writers Alliance

Contact Gary: hello@garyalanmcbride.com
Literary Forensics Resources