A Wounded Snake: A Novel
by Joseph G. Anthony
Bottom Dog Press

"We’re not in slavery days now. Things are different."

Noah Webster is a young black man navigating the difficulties of life in 1898 Lexington, Kentucky, where the promise of Reconstruction has not delivered all that was hoped and fought for in a segregated South. Working closely with Robert O’Hara Benjamin, editor of the “colored” paper The Standard, Webster faces the struggles of his time through his experiences with the free press, education, horseracing, law enforcement, and politics.

With multiple narrators including Webster, a wide range of issues are explored in this powerful story of social awakening on the cusp of the 20th century. Women’s rights, racial equality, and race relations are at the heart of this compelling story full of interesting characters and a strongly realized setting. Anthony effectively captures the impact of racial inequalities on a community of people working through changing times. For some that change is happening too quickly and for others not quickly enough. But all parts of society from the courts to the newspapers are engaged, and all kinds of characters are deployed by Anthony to tell this story from different perspectives. The result is a richly detailed and nuanced treatment of the complex issue of institutionalized racism and the maddening resistance to progress in the name of tradition and exaltation of the past.

Anthony strikes notes of warmth and brutality with moments of lyrical wisdom and keen insight through the voices of his characters, all from so many different walks of life: men and women, black and white, young and old. The historical detail vividly imparts the legacy of racial struggle in America and offers a beacon of hope that one day we will be “one people, one family.”

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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