An unforgettable memoir by an award-winning poet about being kidnapped from his Black father and raised by his white supremacist grandparents.
When Shane McCrae was three years old, his grandparents kidnapped him and took him to suburban Texas. His mom was white and his dad was Black, and to hide his Blackness from him, his maternal grandparents stole him from his father. In the years that followed, they manipulated and controlled him, refusing to acknowledge his heritage—all the while believing they were doing what was best for him.
For their own safety and to ensure the kidnapping remained a success, Shane’s grandparents had to make sure that he never knew the full story, so he was raised to participate in his own disappearance. But despite elaborate fabrications and unreliable memories, Shane begins to reconstruct his own story and to forge his own identity. Gradually, the truth unveils itself, and with the truth, comes a path to reuniting with his father and finding his own place in the world.
A revelatory account of a singularly American childhood that hauntingly echoes the larger story of race in our country, Pulling the Chariot of the Sun is written with the virtuosity and heart of one of the finest poets writing today. And it is also a powerful reflection on what is broken in America—but also what might heal and make it whole again.
Shane McCrae is the author of several books of poetry, including In the Language of My Captor, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the William Carlos Williams Award; Sometimes I Never Suffered, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize; and his most recent collection, Cain Named the Animal. McCrae is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.
Patricia Smith, winner of the 2021 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (Northwestern University Press 2017), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, the LA Times Book Prize, the NAACP Image Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (Coffee House Press, 2012), winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; and Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008), a National Book Award finalist. She is a Guggenheim fellow, an NEA grant recipient, a finalist for the Neudstadt Prize, a former fellow at Civitella Ranieri, Yaddo and MacDowell and and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. Smith is currently a distinguished professor for the City University of New York and a visiting professor at Princeton University as well an instructor for Cave Canem and the Vermont College of Fine Arts Post-Graduate Writing Program. She is currently at work on her first novel and second children’s picture book.Unshuttered, a book of dramatic monologues accompanied by 19th century photos of African-Americans, will be released in the fall of 2022.