A singular and powerful debut novel about a young black American learning the difficulties of forming your own identity when society has already assigned you one
Like most recent college graduates, Jonah Winters is unsure of what's next. A young black American raised in France and living in New York City, he tries on a couple of careers only to find that nothing feels right. And as Jonah struggles to envision his future, he feels pressured by his friends and family to put the struggles of his community before his search for self.
But then a chance encounter with an ex-NBA player with his own regrets, inspires Jonah to take his life into his own hands. Deciding to leave the country entirely, he sets off for Brazil. And as he makes and breaks friendships on the way, reflects on his past relationships, and learns to rely on himself, Jonah slowly forms an understanding of self, community, and freedom that is rarely afforded to young black men.
About the Author
Jesse McCarthy has written for several publications including The New York Times, n+1, and the New Republic. He is a contributing editor at The Point and is an associate professor of English, African American, and African History at Harvard.
A most anticipated book from The Millions
"McCarthy’s captivating debut tackles race and the American dream ... With its rich, lyrically drawn atmosphere and incisive commentary ... McCarthy’s tale maintains an authentic feel. Readers are in very good hands with this smart, empathetic, and soul-searching writer." —Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"An acclaimed African American essayist puts forth a first novel whose quirky romanticism, vivid landscapes, and digressive storytelling owe more to classic European cinema than conventional literature ... An intellectually stimulating fiction debut." —Kirkus (starred review)
"In his insightful debut, writer, editor, and Harvard professor McCarthy explores the tension between community and individual perceptions of Black identity in different cultures ... Superb storytelling." —Booklist
"If you haven’t already heard of Jesse McCarthy, you soon will be! ... [The Fugitivities] is best enjoyed by sinking into the ruminative prose and savoring the ride." —Bookreporter
"The Fugitivities is an ambitious, debut novel that speaks to the deepest of vulnerabilities of the human condition: how we make sense of our identities as it relates to others and our stake and responsibilities in the world." —Morgan Jerkins, author of This Will Be My Undoing
"A gorgeous, virtuosic novel. In exquisite, often ecstatic, prose, McCarthy gives us a portrait of the artist as a black man—or rather, as a set of young black men, brothers and friends and rivals. This is blackness as it collides with class and love. Blackness in its uneasy relationship to Europe and the Americas. Blackness in all of its inner intricacy, tension, and beauty. Blackness shattered from the inside, each facet spinning, in McCarthy's own words, in "a hypnotic dance like shards in a kaleidoscope." —Namwali Serpell, author of The Old Drift