The Final Revival of Opal and Nev is stunning — original, formally inventive, fiercely political, and full of unforgettable characters that you won't want to stop spending time with when it's over. The lightly fictionalized past and present of this book feels just as authentic as any reported work about the intersection of music and society would, but this is also a thrilling page-turner that is immensely readable. And perhaps the highest compliment I can pay this book is it does that rare thing that fiction about music hardly ever does: it captures what the sensation of listening to a great song, both in the privacy of a bedroom or in a crowd of thousands of strangers, actually feels like. Recommended By Tim B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A kaleidoscopic fictional oral history of the beloved rock ’n’ roll duo who shot to fame in 1970s New York, and the dark, fraught secret that lies at the peak of their stardom.
Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job — despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.
In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.
Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.
Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.
“'Bold' doesn’t even begin to describe it. Dawnie Walton's exhilarating debut is a thrill ride into the Afro-punk 1970s complete with a central character so unforgettable, you'll almost believe you’ve heard her name before. Innovative, sexy, edgy — I’ve never read anything like Opal & Nev, and I promise you haven't either." Ayana Mathis, New York Times bestselling author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
"Dawnie Walton's The Final Revival Of Opal & Nev is one of the most immersive novels I've ever read. This is largely because of Walton's skill at letting so many people talk in so many different ways. Voices are marshalled from across America, and then across the Atlantic, and blended seamlessly into a tale about black culture, black women American capitalism. This is a thrilling work of polyphony — a first novel, that reads like the work of an old hand." Ta-Nehisi Coates, New York Times bestselling author of The Water Dancer and Between the World and Me
"As a DJ, model, producer, cultural curator, entrepreneur, artist and activist, I’ve always had to pave my own path and go where the naysayers said was not possible. So to encounter a woman with a similar vibe, who confidently sets her own path was thrilling to read about. Buckle up when you sit down to follow Opal on her journey from a young girl in Detroit who is trying to find her voice to a confident woman who travels the world speaking her own truth, even when it gets her in trouble. An intoxicating blend of pop culture and politics, feminist power and fun, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is a must read." Beverly Bond, author of Black Girls Rock: Owning Our Magic, Rocking Our Truth, creator, executive producer of BLACK GIRLS ROCK!
Watch the Powell’s virtual event with Dawnie Walton and Nadia Owusu!
About the Author
Dawnie Walton is a fiction writer and journalist whose work explores identity, place, and the influence of pop culture. She has won fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Tin House Summer Workshop, and earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Previously she worked as an executive-level editor for magazine and multimedia brands including Essence, Entertainment Weekly, Getty Images, and LIFE. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, she lives with her husband in Brooklyn.