Crime Time asked Attica Locke, the author of the much-acclaimed Black Water Rising, how she felt about the amazing response to her novel…
The acclaim the book has received has surprised me, maybe more so than anyone else.
I certainly love my book. And Jay Porter I love like family.
But I also think I have carried around some of the same preconceptions about a mystery novel’s place in the world that other people do. Sure, there were certain corners of the literary world where I thought the book would be welcomed, but I also worried that the parts of "Black Water Rising" that borrow heavily from the mystery genre might cause some people to miss the larger points I was trying to make about race and power, class and history.
And there are certain reviewers who have been unkind – unimpressed or unmoved by the way my novel balances mystery and national history, the way it moves between an unabashed embrace of pop sensibility and a commitment to literary grace. These reviewers seemed to believe that my novel had to be one thing or the other. And I am glad that so many, many people disagree.
I will end on a piece of personal history.
I am the first generation in my family, after decades of political struggle, to live in a fully integrated society. So maybe there is a part of me that is forever trying to marry two seeming opposites, to integrate the varying parts of my life and my interests. It shows up in my friendships, in my marriage, and in the way I write. I am always looking for what we as individuals have in common, just as in literature I look for the ways in which our varying literary traditions might find common ground, and how much we have to share with one another.
Black Water Rising is published by Profile