“You’d think it has been done before but it really hasn’t–the perfectly crafted, haunting and heartbreaking, raw, funny, unblinking yet merciful art novel.”–Marlon JamesFamily secrets, sexual explorations, art world wealth, and legacies of racism and environmental destruction collide in the new novel from Lambda Award-winning author Dale Peck.
A century and a half of family secrets are written on Judas Stammers’s body, painted purple by a birthmark that covers half his face and abdomen. Judas is the last descendent of a 19th-century robber baron who made his fortune off the slaves who died in his coal mines. The money’s gone, but the legacy lives on in the form of an all-male, all-black private school founded by the family patriarch in atonement for his sins. Ostracized for his name as much as his appearance, Judas’s lust for his classmates is matched only by their contempt for him, until finally he’s driven to seek out sex in places where his identity means nothing to the anonymous men he gives himself to. Hovering over everything is Judas’s mother, Dixie, an acclaimed potter whose obsession with creating the perfect vessel over and over again leaves her son that much more isolated. By turns philosophical and perverse, Night Soil is a tour de force by the writer whom Alexander Chee called “the only genius I know who could write it and live.”