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Man Gone Down

by

Man Gone Down Cover

 

Awards

Winner of the 2009 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Beautifully written, insightful, and devastating first novel, Man Gone Down is about a young black father of three in a biracial marriage trying to claim a piece of the American Dream he has bargained on since youth.

On the eve of the unnamed narrator's thirty-fifth birthday, he finds himself broke, estranged from his white Boston Brahmin wife and three children, and living in the bedroom of a friend's six-year-old child. He has four days to come up with the money to keep his family afloat, four days to try to make some sense of his life. He's been getting by working construction jobs though he's known on the streets as "the professor," as he was expected to make something out of his life. Alternating between his past — as a child in inner-city Boston, he was bussed to the suburbs as part of the doomed attempts at integration in the 1970s — and the preset in New York City where he is trying mightily to keep his children in private schools, we learn of his mother's abuses, his father's abandonment, raging alcoholism, and the best and worst intentions of a supposedly integrated America.

This is an extraordinary debut. It is a story of the American Dream gone awry, about what it's like to feel preprogrammed to fail in life — and the urge to escape that sentence. Michael Thomas's writing recalls some of the great American masters, including Ralph Ellison, but his debut is wholly and distinctly an original. Man Gone Down is a dazzling addition to the literature of and about America today.

Review:

"Born poor, black and brilliant in a Boston ghetto, the unnamed man of the title is, at 35, crashing at a friend's place in New York , trying to scrape up enough money to keep his family afloat. As he reluctantly returns to the construction jobs that he thought he'd left behind and works to collect on old debts (and defer his own), he narrates his Boston bildung and traces his early years and the history of his relationship with his white Boston Brahmin wife, Claire. His childhood was marked by parental neglect and early experiments with heavy alcohol consumption. A natural writer, he was taken under the wing of a prominent black intellectual during his college years, but didn't follow through as his relationship with Claire and then the demands of married life intensified. Now, as he struggles to support a life he isn't sure he believes in, he is tempted to return to drink, give up on his marriage and abandon his children, although Claire has demonstrated her unwavering support. For all of the introspection and occasional indulgence in self-pity, the narrator retains a note of hard-won optimism, and Thomas resolutely steers him clear of sentimentality." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"In many ways, the main character in Michael Thomas' first novel, 'Man Gone Down,' is a 21st-century man with a mid-20th-century sensibility. Like the characters of Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry, whom he references throughout the novel with recognizable phrases, themes and quotes, Thomas' unnamed narrator is a black man concerned with identity in a decidedly white America. So... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"The scope of Thomas's project is prodigious....He has an exceptional eye for detail, and the poetry of his descriptive digressions...provides some respite from the knowledge that the city he loves can truly crush a man's spirit." New York Times

Review:

"[A] fine, richly textured work." Boston Globe

Review:

"Thomas has written a rhapsodic and piercing post-9/11 lament over aggression, greed, and racism, and a ravishing blues for the soul's unending loneliness." Booklist

Review:

"Michael Thomas is a thoughtful, intelligent, ambitious writer and Man Gone Down is an impressive first effort. Literature — and the world — would be well served by more like him." Martha Southgate

Review:

"Once in a great while a voice comes along that staggers us with its vitality, strength, and timeliness. Michael Thomas is one of those writers, and he's been gifted with a dynamic voice as well as with a story worthy of our attention." David Haynes

Synopsis:

On the eve of his thirty-fifth birthday, the unnamed black narrator of Man Gone Down finds himself broke, estranged from his white wife and three children, and living in the bedroom of a friends six-year-old child. He has four days to come up with the money to keep the kids in school and make a down payment on an apartment for them in which to live. As we slip between his childhood in inner city Boston and present-day New York City, we learn of a life marked by abuse, abandonment, raging alcoholism, and the best and worst intentions of a supposedly integrated America. This is a story of the American Dream gone awry, about what its like to feel preprogrammed to fail in life and the urge to escape that sentence.

About the Author

Michael Thomas was born and raised in Boston. He received his B.A. from Hunter College and his M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College. He teaches at Hunter College and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780802170293
Author:
Thomas, Michael
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Brooklyn (new york, n.y.)
Subject:
African American men
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20070131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 14 oz

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Related Subjects


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Man Gone Down Used Trade Paper
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$3.95 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Grove/Atlantic - English 9780802170293 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Born poor, black and brilliant in a Boston ghetto, the unnamed man of the title is, at 35, crashing at a friend's place in New York , trying to scrape up enough money to keep his family afloat. As he reluctantly returns to the construction jobs that he thought he'd left behind and works to collect on old debts (and defer his own), he narrates his Boston bildung and traces his early years and the history of his relationship with his white Boston Brahmin wife, Claire. His childhood was marked by parental neglect and early experiments with heavy alcohol consumption. A natural writer, he was taken under the wing of a prominent black intellectual during his college years, but didn't follow through as his relationship with Claire and then the demands of married life intensified. Now, as he struggles to support a life he isn't sure he believes in, he is tempted to return to drink, give up on his marriage and abandon his children, although Claire has demonstrated her unwavering support. For all of the introspection and occasional indulgence in self-pity, the narrator retains a note of hard-won optimism, and Thomas resolutely steers him clear of sentimentality." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "The scope of Thomas's project is prodigious....He has an exceptional eye for detail, and the poetry of his descriptive digressions...provides some respite from the knowledge that the city he loves can truly crush a man's spirit."
"Review" by , "[A] fine, richly textured work."
"Review" by , "Thomas has written a rhapsodic and piercing post-9/11 lament over aggression, greed, and racism, and a ravishing blues for the soul's unending loneliness."
"Review" by , "Michael Thomas is a thoughtful, intelligent, ambitious writer and Man Gone Down is an impressive first effort. Literature — and the world — would be well served by more like him."
"Review" by , "Once in a great while a voice comes along that staggers us with its vitality, strength, and timeliness. Michael Thomas is one of those writers, and he's been gifted with a dynamic voice as well as with a story worthy of our attention."
"Synopsis" by ,
On the eve of his thirty-fifth birthday, the unnamed black narrator of Man Gone Down finds himself broke, estranged from his white wife and three children, and living in the bedroom of a friends six-year-old child. He has four days to come up with the money to keep the kids in school and make a down payment on an apartment for them in which to live. As we slip between his childhood in inner city Boston and present-day New York City, we learn of a life marked by abuse, abandonment, raging alcoholism, and the best and worst intentions of a supposedly integrated America. This is a story of the American Dream gone awry, about what its like to feel preprogrammed to fail in life and the urge to escape that sentence.

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