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Knucklehead

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A fierce, intelligent, and often hilarious novel about a young African American attorney who struggles to keep his cool in the personally and politically turbulent ’90s.

Forthcoming: 2/13/18

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What people are saying…

“From page one, Knucklehead is a literary punch in the face. Adam Smyer’s exploration of rage is unflinching, brave, and absolutely brilliant. There’s so much energy in this debut you could put it in your tank and drive on it.”
—Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day

“Adam Smyer is an incendiary new voice who announces himself with the force of a Category 5 hurricane. With refreshing honesty and rip-roaring, wipe-the-tears-from-your-eyes humor, Knucklehead prefigures our deranged times through the prism of the 1990s, forever debunking the illusory promise of that era by turning the mirror to our collective failures and deficiencies. A staggering, unforgettable debut.”
Arthur Nersesian, author of The Fuck-Up

“Adam Smyer’s Knucklehead is so smart, so wildly, uncategorizably original, such a flat-out revelation from page to page, you almost forget how savagely funny and fearless the author actually is. His prose calls to mind everyone from Fred Exley and Céline to Paul Beatty, Tao Lin, and a legion of other say-the-unsayable chroniclers of their own—and society’s—demons. Knucklehead is the kind of book you don’t just admire, it’s the kind that makes you want to buy in bulk and jam into the hands of loved ones and strangers as you scream in their faces, ‘Read this or remain clueless!‘ In a feat of fierce literary magic, the author’s 1990s Bay Area and NYC peel back the curtain on our own Trump-stained era, exposing, in loving detail, the fine line between salvation and self-destruction that defines the times. No one who reads Knucklehead will ever think the same about relationships, about family, about race, class, or the business of remaining sane—and human—in the world of crazy-making, soul-defiling choices we now inhabit. I straight-up loved this book.”
Jerry Stahl, author of Happy Mutant Baby Pills

“Decades from now, Adam Smyer’s Knucklehead will be discussed in the same way we talk about the great works of Wright, Baldwin, and Hurston. He invites the reader to view a remote corner of rage and somehow does it with a ruthless sense of humor worthy of Jonathan Swift.”
—James Tracy, coauthor of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power

“Reading Knucklehead, I found my eyes going unaccountably wet. Hats off to Mr. Smyer for writing the only book about being black today that I could stomach to read.”
—Eugene S. Robinson, author of Fight


Description

In Knucklehead we meet Marcus Hayes, a black law student who struggles, sometimes unsuccessfully, with the impulse to confront everyday bad behavior with swift and antisocial action. The cause of this impulse is unknown to him. When he unexpectedly becomes involved with the brilliant and kind Amalia Stewart, her love and acceptance pacify his demons. But when his demons return, he is no longer inclined to contain them.

Set amid the racial violence of the 1990s, Knucklehead is hard-hitting, hilarious, and frank. The social situations Marcus navigates are as prevalent today as they were twenty years ago. And the parallels to our present-day political climate are poignant and telling.


Book Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Published: 2/13/18
  • IBSN: 9781617755873
  • e-IBSN: 9781617756030

Author

ADAM SMYER is an attorney, martial artist, and mediocre bass player. His writing can be found in Dismantle, an anthology by VONA Voices, a multigenre writing workshop cofounded by Junot Díaz. Smyer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two cats. Knucklehead is his debut novel.

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