A few years ago I attended the Southern Kentucky Book Fest, along with fellow author Tasha Alexander. We arrived late at night, got up early to do some spiffy TV things, and then thought we'd have a leisurely lunch. Sadly, our lunch was cut short when we were rather rudely attacked by a tornado. We hightailed it back to the hotel, arriving bedraggled and, I admit, a little freaked out, and promptly sought out other humans with which to compare stories of the tornado.
Naturally, as there were writers in town, the bar was where we found them. We were lucky enough to meet many talented authors that stormy evening, including J.D. Rhoades (author of the Jack Keller series and the upcoming Breaking Cover), Bob Morris (author of the Zack Chasteen series), and the most interesting Nathan Singer, who is not just a novelist, but also a playwright, composer, and performance artist.
Nathan's previous books, A Prayer for Dawn ("With a keenly developed sense of disillusionment and a real talent for capturing the vernacular, Singer leads readers on a raging, rollicking ride through the underbelly of American society."-Publishers Weekly ) and Chasing the Wolf ("A rollicking dash through space and time."-Booklist), were critically acclaimed, and for good reason. Nathan has been compared to authors such as Hubert Selby, Jr., and I loved both books.
But I have a feeling that his new one, In the Light of You, just published by Bleak House Books, is going to be the one that breaks Singer into the mainstream. His themes are important and timely, his writing fresh as hell and twice as exciting.
About the book:
Angry 16 year old misfit Mikal Fanon has just joined a gang of Neo-Nazi skinheads for reasons that are not entirely clear to him. He is taken in by the leader of the gang, Richard, and the two become fast (and best) friends. Emboldened by his new-found sense of belonging Mikal finds himself committing horrible acts of violence without a second thought. But two women threaten to tear his world apart -- a gorgeous and passionate young Black activist on campus named Niani Shange, to whom Mikal finds himself hopelessly attracted, and Sherry Nicolas, Richard's new girlfriend who seems to be driving a wedge between the two young skinheads . . .
Sherry Nicolas, awkward, shy, and away from home for the first time in her life, finds comfort in a brand new circle of friends and a handsome new boyfriend - the charming and charismatic Richard Lovecraft. Richard leads Sherry into a wild, thrilling, fast-paced lifestyle that is also dangerous and troubling . . .the violent "white power" underground. Though very much in love with Richard, Sherry finds herself increasingly fascinated by a group of young leftist radicals on campus lead by Niani Shange and her platonic best friend, the rather ghoulish and unstable Jack Curry.
Sherry's (and Mikal's) attraction to these two radically opposite, yet eerily similar, forces threatens to throw fuel on an already smoldering fire, leading to a bloody and explosive end. Who will survive and who will be burned?
And here's the buzz:
"In furiously fast-paced prose, Singer gives voice to 16-year-old loner Mikal Fanon and his infatuation with the white power movement. An unblinking portrait of young white rage."
"Singer evokes with rare passion the tumultuous confusions and conflicts as teens seek to work out their racial and sexual identities...readers will find Mikals erratic passage through a rough adolescence both vivid and compelling."
"Quite simply, IN THE LIGHT OF YOU is one of the finest coming-of-age novels published so far this century. Incendiary and moving, deeply relevant and searingly honest, it deserves to catapult Nathan Singer into the list of America's best young novelists."
John Connolly , author of The Book of Lost Things
With prose brutal as a tumble through barbed wire and a tweaker's furious energy, Nathan Singer has crafted a chilling look inside the White Power movement. A riveting story of hatred, fear, longing, and maybe, just possibly, redemption."
Marcus Sakey, author of At the City's Edge
"A visceral punch to the gut, In The Light of You grabs you from the get-go via expressive, lacerating prose and a brisk narrative engine drunk on its own unique rhythm. Like Singer's previous trips to America's dark underbelly, A Prayer for Dawn and Chasing the Wolf, this new effort is driven by subversive angst and a desperate need to explore the nature of identity and so-called freedom in a world handcuffed by conformity. And while some might call In the Light of You the coming-of-age tale of a disillusioned young man on the brink of oblivion, I have a feeling Singer would simply call it a story of survival."
City Beat (Hot Issue 2008)
The reviews are spot on, the blurbs are genuine. This is an exciting writer, and I'm honored to have known him back when we were all just running from tornadoes.
Rock on, Nathan.