“When I try to imagine the addresses of the houses and apartments I lived in before my grandparents kidnapped me, I can’t remember anything.”
An unforgettable memoir of a mixed-race child kidnapped and raised by his white supremacist grandparents
When Shane McCrae was eighteen months old, he was removed from his parents and taken to suburban Texas. His mother was white and his dad was Black, and to hide his Blackness from him, his maternal grandparents stole him. In the years that followed, they manipulated and controlled him, believing they were doing what was best for him. His grandmother loved Shane but hated people who looked like him. His grandfather policed any perceived signs of Blackness his grandson showed. In their house, Blackness would always be the worst thing about him.
Pulling the Chariot of the Sun is a revelatory account of what it can mean to be Black in America, written with virtuosity and heart by one of the finest poets writing today. This memoir offers acute insight into the larger story of a people stolen from their homes, dominated by white supremacy and lied to about their own history. And it illuminates how we all might be made whole again, through a tireless search for the truth and the joyful pursuit of what we love.
“Imaginative, lyrical … Memory itself is as much the central theme as the kidnapping and its aftermath”
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“Striking … [Full] of many powerfully visceral ruminations on memory”
“A moving, slippery and imagistic prose memoir by one of my favourite lyric poets writing today”
“Extraordinary … a recreation of childhood trauma – and the trauma of never being free as a child to name it as trauma in the feverish pseudo-normality of this incredible and shocking situation. It’s about race, class, imagination – and skateboarding – and is packed with passion and energy”
“Shane McCrae’s powerful, indelible poet’s voice has now extended to the memoir, and how fortunate are we that the very things that distinguish his verse – truth-telling, sharp observation, more than a sense of the moment, profundity worn lightly – grace his harrowing and enlightening tale about race and what makes an American family and why. An essential story for our times”
Shane McCrae’s most recent books are The Gilded Auction Block and Sometimes I Never Suffered. He has received a Whiting Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Lannan Literary Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.