Tomb of the Unknown Racist - A Novel
An Amazon Best Book of the Month in Literature and Fiction
The award-winning author of The Revolution of Little Girls and Terminal Velocity concludes her grand survey of political activism twenty years later with her provocative new novel
Blanche McCrary Boyd’s first novel in twenty years continues the story of her protagonist Ellen Burns. When Tomb of the Unknown Racist opens in 1999, Ellen—now sober, haunted by her activist past, her failed relationships—is peacefully taking care of her demented mother in South Carolina.
Ellen’s brother, Royce, was a celebrated novelist who, a decade earlier, saw his work adopted by racists and fell under the sway of white supremacy. Ellen thought him dead from a botched FBI raid on his compound. But when his estranged daughter turns up on the news claiming he might be responsible for kidnapping her two mixed-race children, Ellen travels to New Mexico to help her newfound niece. The book chronicles Ellen’s search for Royce, her descent into the dark abyss of the simmering race war in the country, and the confrontation that occurs when she learns the truth about her family’s past.
Tomb of the Unknown Racist is a thrilling novel set in the shadow of the Oklahoma City bombing, the subculture of white supremacy, and deep state government. A family drama set against political and racial struggle, it is a tour de force end to a trilogy by a stunning writer whose work has offered a resonant survey of politics and activism across the American experience.
"Part detective story, part spiritual quest, Tomb of the Unknown Racist explores the intricate world of the white supremacy movement, and the treacherous ways that racism shatters families and spreads its dark roots across America. . . A character both innocent and wise, searching and grounded, [Ellen Burns] sees the worst in the good, and the good in the worst. We need more 'old outlaws' like [her], who try to right the wrongs of the world, even when they’re impossible to change." —Hannah Tinti, author of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley