Listen to the Lambs

In Daniel Black's (Twelve Gates to the City) allegorical tale of a successful African American man who gives up all of his material possessions--and his family--in order to live fully, readers will find the striking beauty of an exceptionally talented writer. Listen to the Lambs is a literary ballet of sweeping proportions, and the choreography of the characters' lives is meticulously crafted to deliver a pointed story of race, class and family.

When Lazarus Love III realizes his corporate job is slowly killing him, he wants to quit. But his wife can't comprehend this desire to abandon the affluent life to which they are accustomed, and she asks him to leave. So Lazarus takes up residence below an overpass where he watches his two children from afar and builds a new family with other homeless individuals: Cinderella, a white, middle-aged woman whose prized possession is a pair of red shoes; Elisha, a young African American man who fled the foster system; Legion, who is intersex and has been abandoned by family; and The Comforter, the ethereal presence who brings a level of spirituality to the tribe of vagabonds. A terrifying threat to Lazarus's life brings them together, and they discover, "Strength ain't money or power or even influence.... Strength is unity."

Black's characters dance to the rhythm of his language: intense descriptions, "e" as Legion's genderless pronoun, strong dialogue and powerful symbolism. There's a minor, yet readily noticeable, misstep in the presentation of courtroom procedure; however, the small distraction takes little away from this elegant performance. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

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