Three-Fifths by John Vercher
Set against the backdrop of the simmering racial tension produced by the LA Riots and the O.J. Simpson trial, comes this powerful hardboiled noir of violence and obsession
Pittsburgh, 1995. Twenty-two-year-old Bobby Saraceno is a biracial black man, passing for white. Bobby has hidden his identity from everyone, even his best friend and fellow comic-book geek, Aaron, who just returned from prison a newly radicalized white supremacist.
During the night of their reunion, Bobby witnesses Aaron mercilessly assault a young black man with a brick. In the wake of this horrifying act of violence, Bobby must conceal his unwitting involvement in the crime from the police, as well as battle his own personal demons.
Three-Fifths is a harrowing story about racism and brutality that is more urgent now than ever.
A powerful and also moving debut novel by John Vercher, Three Fifths (Pushkin Vertigo) is set in 1995 and I have to say it was a book that I could not put down and found myself waking up in the early hours just to carry on reading this compelling novel.
The Story set in Pittsburgh begins with Bobby Saraceno who is a young biracial black man, who tells everyone he is white but does not tell anyone that his father was black and he never got to know his mother who was white but clearly had her problems. Bobby his is true identity from everyone. His closest friend Aaron has just been released from a three-year term in prison and they meet up but there is something about Aaron that has changed. Being inside has changed him, something clearly effected Aaron as he has become radicalized and a white supremacist.
Tensions are running high as the backdrop is set against the O.J. Simpson trial and the riots in LA. It is late in the evening and the pair are involved in a crime and this is where Bobby sees Aaron assault a young black man, leaving him fighting for his life.
Bobby is clearly fearing for his own safety and if caught he knows he will go to prison for a number of years. If this was not difficult enough he knows his friend still does not know his true identity and what then if he finds out, and then when Bobby’s father suddenly appears after many years, this is where he not only has to come to terms with his past and his true self but this will also collide with the very present day and the dangers this will bring. This is a powerful narrative that John Vercher has written in Three-Fifths and is a story that involves many themes that include race, identity, friendship, racism, family.
John Vercher has manged to write a debut that is masterful and also timely. I felt I wanted to learn about the characters as the story went on you become involved with the characters. A novel that cries out to be read. John Vercher is a new writer to watch.
Thank you Poppy Stimpson and Pushkin Press for the review copy of Three Fifths by John Vercher.
Three Fifths by John Vercher was published by Pushkin Pressand was published on 1st October 2020 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org