Visitation of Spiritsby Randall Kenan
“With A Visitation of Spirits, Randall Kenan continues James Baldwin’s legendary tradition of ‘telling it on the mountain.’”—San Francisco Chronicle
When A Visitation of Spirits was published, Randall Kenan (1963-2020) was instantly recognized as a writer of significance, and one who brought into literary fiction the southern Black, gay experience, one of the few writers to do so. His work has won the Lambda Literary Award for gay fiction, a Whiting Award, and the John Dos Passos Prize, and he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship and the Prix de Rome.
His groundbreaking first novel, A Visitation of Spirits, is the powerful story of Horace Cross, a popular and high-achieving sixteen-year-old boy, who wrestles with the guilt of discovering who he is, a young man attracted to other men and yearning to escape the narrow confines of Tims Creek. Raised on stories of prophets, revelations, and dreams, his internal struggles take shape in his mind as demons and angels battling for his soul, culminating in one night of horrible and tragic transformation. Horace seeks help from his cousin, Reverend James “Jimmy” Greene, but he finds himself ill-prepared to help the boy, plagues by demons of his own. And as Horace spirals out of control, Jimmy must ask himself what it says about him and his community that they cannot reconcile the spirits of the past with those of the future.
Weaving the mythos and the hard realities of rural Black life and easily gliding between past and present, A Visitation of Spirits is a classic novel of growing up from a literary giant.