We Cast a Shadow

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Ruffin, Maurice Carlos

A “razor-sharp debut from an urgent new voice of fiction,” (NPR) about a father’s obsessive quest to protect his son—even if it means turning him white.

“You can be beautiful, even more beautiful than before.” This is the seductive promise of Dr. Nzinga’s Clinic, where anyone can get their lips thinned, their skin bleached, and their noses narrowed. A complete demelanization will liberate you from the confines of being born in a black body—if you can afford it.

In this near-future Southern city plagued by fenced-in ghettos and police violence, more and more residents are turning to this experimental medical procedure. Like any father, our narrator just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. The darker Nigel becomes, the more frightened his father feels. But how far will he go to protect his son? And will he destroy his family in the process?


Story Locale: A near-future New Orleans