Selected Writings (W.W. Norton; August 9, 2022; $27.95, Hardcover) is a posthumous book by Randall Kenan and includes an introduction by Tayari Jones. This series of pieces offers a personal, social, and intellectual self-portrait of the beloved and enormously influential late Kenan, a master of both fiction and nonfiction. Please let me know if you’d like a finished book and I’ll gladly send a copy your way!
“Rich in identity,” as he described himself, Randall Kenan wrote widely and profoundly about what it meant to be Black, gay, and Southern. He confessed himself “elusive”—yet revealed himself in astonishing prose—memories of his three mothers (especially Mama, his great aunt); recollections of his boyhood fear of snakes and his rapture in books, his sensual evocations of tobacco picking and hogkilling, butterbeans and scuppernongs, of the eastern North Carolina lowlands where he grew up. Here too is his intellectual coming-of-age: his passion for science fiction; his informed and ecstatic appreciations of James Baldwin, Ingmar Bergman, Gordon Parks, and Eartha Kitt; his grappling with the politics and meaning of race (a fiction) and home (an inescapable, visceral reality).
The last work of fiction by Randall Kenan (1963–2020), If I Had Two Wings, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Aspen Prize, and the National Book Award for Fiction (longlist). He was a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.