Synopses & Reviews
Following the breakout success of his previous novel, Freeman
, critically acclaimed author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. returns with an even more gripping and emotionally resonant story. Grant Park
is a page-turning and provocative look at race in contemporary America, blending the absurd and the poignant in a masterfully crafted narrative. Pitts brings his distinct gift for storytelling to this important novel, weaving together compelling characters, detail-rich histories, and powerful ideas in his best work yet.
Grant Park follows the story of two veteran journalists with a long-shared history, toggling between Barack Obama's 2008 election-night rally in Chicago's Grant Park and Memphis, 1968. Disillusioned and determined, Marcus Toussaint hacks into his newspaper's server on Election Day 2008 to post a previously rejected, incendiary editorial on the unfair treatment of African Americans. Toussaint and his longtime editor, Bob Carson, are fired within hours of the column's publication. While Carson reels from a fallout he feels is undeserved, Toussaint is kidnapped by a terrorist cell plotting to set off a bomb at the gathering victory rally in Grant Park. As the stakes heighten, Toussaint and Carson are forced to remember the choices they made as idealistic, impatient young men in 1968, when both their lives were changed profoundly by their work in Memphis. Forty years later, they are handed a bizarre opportunity to achieve forgiveness and make peace with their past sins.
Moving seamlessly between the historic election of the country's first black president and the days leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, Pitts builds jaw-clenching tension while pillorying the agents in society who work against progress. Grant Park balances suspense and satire to evoke laughter and tears. It is an audacious and eloquent take on politics, race, and history in America and a revealing portrait of the bitterness, determination, and hope at the core of the human character.
"This high-stakes, hard-charging political thriller from Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Pitts (Freeman) tells the saga of two journalists, switching between the time periods of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 assassination and election day 2008. Sixty-year-old Malcolm Toussaint is a popular black syndicated news columnist writing for the Chicago Post who has two Pulitzer Prizes and resides in a 'trophy' mansion. However, he has grown 'tired' if not embittered over the frustrating lack of progress in race relations between whites and blacks. After receiving one too many racist emails from his readers, he responds by composing a blunt, scathing column, but his white editor, Bob Carson, kiboshes it. After Malcolm hacks into Bob's computer and publishes the controversial column anyway, both men are deemed culpable and fired. Following this, a pair of white supremacists kidnap Malcolm; they also reveal their heinous plan to detonate a 'McVeigh bomb' in Grant Park when Barack Obama appears there, as the clock begins ticking to stop them. Pitts effectively builds the backstory in which young Malcolm witnesses King's fatal shooting in Memphis, and young Bob falls in love with the political black activist Janeka Lattimore, who now resurfaces in his life. The sharply etched characters, careful attention to detail, and rich newspaper lore propel Pitts's socially relevant novel." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Advance Praise for Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s novel GRANT PARK
"The state of US race relations in 1968 and 2008 is seen through the eyes of two veteran Chicago newsmen, one black and one white, in this opportune novel. . . . Pitts adroitly blends history with fiction and actual figures (King, Obama) with characters in a plot that builds suspense around the supremacists plans as anger between the races gives way to understanding. A novel as significant as it is engrossing." Booklist, starred review
"In the aftermath of this summer's racially motivated mass murder in Charleston, South Carolina, by an avowed white supremacist, there's near-eerie prescience in Pitts' historical novel. . .[Grant Park], with urgency and passion, makes readers aware that the mistakes of the past are neglected at the future's peril." Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s previous novel FREEMAN:
"A uniquely American epic...by a knowledgeable, compassionate and relentlessly truthful writer." Howard Frank Mosher, Washington Post
"In lyrical prose, Pitts unflinchingly and movingly portrays the period's cruelties and triumphs." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A pretty powerful love story." Audie Cornish, All Things Considered
"Gorgeously written; a searing, wrenching read. Fans of Cold Mountain and Cormac McCarthy will love this story." Jennifer Weiner, author of The Next Best Thing
"Leonard Pitts has a passion for history and a gift for storytelling. Both shine in this story of love and redemption." Gwen Ifill, PBS, author of The Breakthrough
"Freeman is a myth of whats humanly possible, a needed story about little-known heroism, and a shadow thrown forward to the struggles of American families in the 21st century." John Timpane, Philadelphia Inquirer
"A wonderful, moving, riveting novel." Gabrielle Union, actress
"Post-Civil War America is fertile ground for novelists, but few have tilled it with such grace and majesty as Leonard Pitts." Herb Boyd, co-editor of By Any Means NecessaryMalcolm X: Real, not Reinvented
"Richly illuminates the interior lives of free and enslaved Black folks." Patrik Henry Bass, Essence magazine (editor's pick)
"The characters and their growth, their fierce and stirring highs and lows, their battles with their own prejudices, make this novel unforgettable." Amy Canfield, Miami Herald
"This book is an eye-opening commentary on devotion during this tangled chapter of American history." Wendi Thomas, Memphis Commercial Appeal
"An engrossing, moving read and an original portrayal of a pivotal time in our nation's history." IndieBound's Indie Next List for June, Terri Weiner, Village Books, Bellingham, Washington
"Leonard Pitts, Jr. crafts a novel as well as the great storytellers of our time. Freeman captured my attention from the very first sentence and my heart throughout." Sybil Wilkes, The Tom Joyner Morning Show
"One of the finest Civil War novels I've ever read. If you promised yourself one decent book this summer, then look no further because this is it." Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez
"Resonates with humanitys depth of longing and hope in the most atrocious circumstances.... Astounding for its portrayal of the vulnerability inherent in lost innocence and tragedy, Freeman is a beautiful story of redemption, compassion and love.... It will leave you craving more. It is simply astonishing." BookPeople's Blog, Austin, Texas
"Freeman reminds us of our humanity." Nancy Olson, owner of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, North Carolina
"A novel as significant as it is engrossing." —Booklist, starred review
Grant Park is a page-turning and provocative look at black and white relations in contemporary America, blending the absurd and the poignant in a powerfully well-crafted narrative that showcases Pitts's gift for telling emotionally wrenching stories.
Grant Park begins in 1968, with Martin Luther King's final days in Memphis. The story then moves to the eve of the 2008 election, and cuts between the two eras. Disillusioned columnist Malcolm Toussaint, fueled by yet another report of unarmed black men killed by police, hacks into his newspaper's server to post an incendiary column that had been rejected by his editors. Toussaint then disappears, and his longtime editor, Bob Carson, is summarily fired within hours of the column's publication.
While a furious Carson tries to find Toussaintwhile simultaneously dealing with the reappearance of a lost love from his days as a 60s activistToussaint is abducted by two white supremacists plotting to explode a bomb at Barack Obama's planned rally in Chicagos Grant Park. Toussaint and Carson are forced to remember the choices they made as young men, when both their lives were changed profoundly by their work in the civil rights movement.
About the Author
Leonard Pitts, Jr. is a nationally syndicated columnist for the Miami Herald and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, in addition to many other awards. He is also the author of the novels Freeman (Agate Bolden, 2012) and Before I Forget (Agate Bolden, 2009); the collection Forward From this Moment: Selected Columns, 1994-2009, Daily Triumphs, Tragedies, and Curiosities (Agate Bolden, 2009); and Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood (Agate Bolden, 2006). Born and raised in Southern California, Pitts now lives in suburban Washington, D.C., with his wife and children.