‘Boy, look at you..ackin’ like you always be riding around in a big fancy car with a chauffeur’

Review by Grady Harp

After reading Shawn Stewart Ruff’s first novel FINLATER in 2008 this deeply impressed reader remarked the following; ‘Shawn Stewart Ruff may be a name known to only a few avid readers of short stories, but with the publication of FINLATER this gifted writer is bound to be recognized as a very important voice in American literature. Few writers are able to relate a story from a child’s vantage as keenly as Ruff: echoes of such writers as JD Salinger and Colm Toibin and JG Hayes are present in this tender little love story that offers finely honed insights into the impact of racial tensions on the sociologic changes of the 1970s. It is a book that deserves wide critical attention as well as a broad readership.’ A wide acclaim as well as important literary awards became reality. Some years later, in 2013, my admiration grew: ‘That Shawn Stewart Ruff is a gifted writer is a given. His previous books FINLATER and TOSS AND WHIRL AND PASS are some of the stronger books of the last decade. He is an African American author who knows that delicate balance of writing in the language of the street without resorting to the extreme of allowing the language to be the essence of the book. While his other books have dealt with city life and cross sections of cultures, TENTHS moves away from the city into Upstate New York and it is here that Ruff spreads his wings in a much different direction.’

And now blooms GJS II and Shawn has become one of America’s most important authors, unafraid to take on big novels with multilayered topics and this novel comes out in 2016 Black History Month – a finer celebration could not be expected.

Shawn’s concise synopsis pulls us in with a stage hook: ‘In this alluring sideshow in the Clinton Administration drama, self-made Cincinnati entrepreneur Griffin Jewells Saunders II is a man of means: covetable connections, immense wealth, a glamorous TV-celebrity and fashion icon wife and five telegenic children. The sterling qualities that have made this handsome black embodiment of the American dream a Cincinnati mayoral prospect prove his undoing. A lucrative business alliance with his Clinton cabinet-appointed half-brother ensnares the partnership in the Republican attack machine. As the Monica Lewinsky scandal engulfs the White House, the brothers turn on each other, convinced an FBI sting is afoot. Distrust balloons and bursts . . . and the fallout sweeps Griffin’s family into the maelstrom in this thrilling pulp-fiction page-turner of tabloid intrigue, high-fashion passion, murder, sex, pornography, tragic deaths, blackmail, and dramatic TV interviews’ It is all here and it begs to made into a film. Hats off to a contemporary genius.—Grady Harp, February 16

ISBN: 978-0-9819420-3-2

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