A NEGRO AND AN OFAY by Danny Gardner

Down and Out Books

May 15, 2017

It’s shortly after World War II in Danny Gardner’s debut novel, A NEGRO AND AN OFAY, and disgraced Chicago police officer Elliot Caprice has been on the run for the past year. He returns home to rural Illinois to find that his uncle has lost the family farm. Caprice starts working as a process server for a local attorney in an effort to earn enough money to buy the farm back from the bank. When he’s sent to serve papers to a wealthy North Side Chicago widow, Caprice finds himself in the middle of a mysterious family drama while trying to put his own family back together.

Caprice is biracial, half black and half white, and is continually trying to fit in with one group or the other. He has spent most of his life trying to find a balance between these two worlds. It’s this ability to adapt that makes it possible for him to move with relative ease from his uncle’s farm in rural Illinois to the poshest of nightclubs on Chicago’s Gold Coast. However, he’s continually reminded that he doesn’t truly fit in with the white power brokers that he continuously butts heads with. Racism runs rampant during this era of Chicago’s history: slavery has been abolished, but the civil rights movement is still on the horizon. Gardner deals with this issue head on and doesn’t sugarcoat anything.

Gardner has created characters as complex as the plot of A NEGRO AND AN OFAY. He shows the reader what happens when the first black county sheriff in the Midwest has to investigate the suspicious death of the son of the rural county’s wealthy founder.  He also delves into the romantic relationship between the Jewish attorney and his black paralegal. It’s clear that Gardner isn’t just telling the reader about what happened to the characters, he’s also telling you about them.

With A NEGRO AND AN OFAY, Danny Gardner is establishing himself as an upcoming writer to watch. No other writer right now has a voice or point of view like Gardner’s. It’s clear from his writing that he is passionate about both his storytelling and his characters. Gardner has something to say and we all need to pay attention when he puts pen to paper.

 

Kate Malmon