Black History Month Spotlight: Attica Locke

08 October 2020

For Black History Month, we’re flooding our news feed with profiles of our black authors, past and present. In the second of the series, Marketing Manager Rachel Nobilo writes about the inspiring, change-maker Attica Locke.



ATTICA LOCKE | HEAVEN MY HOME

‘The most celebrated African-American writer of crime fiction. Although her books are about the black experience in the US, they are universal in scope … a consummate storyteller.’ – Financial Times

Attica Locke is a formidable talent, both on the page and behind the screen, and her depictions of the black experience is vivid, unforgettable and essential. She’s an acclaimed writer, screenwriter and producer and most recently worked on two of the most striking book-to-TV adaptations I’ve seen, When They See Us and Little Fires Everywhere

When They See Us won the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Limited Series and was nominated for 11 awards at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards. Notably, in 2018, Attica campaigned against the Mystery Writers of America’s decision to bestow a lifetime achievement award to the Central Park Five prosecutor who pushed for the teen’s convictions. She successfully prompted the Mystery Writers of America to rescind the award for the first time in its history. 

Heaven My Home, the latest in her Highway 59 series, follows on from her Edgar Award-winning Bluebird, Bluebird, a powerful novel about the explosive intersection of love, race, and justice set in East Texas and centred on black Texas Ranger Darren Mathews. Heaven My Home returns to the deep country of Texas, now suffering a new wave of racial violence in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. We return to the experiences of Darren Mathews as he battles centuries-old prejudice in his investigation of a black man suspected in the possible murder of a missing white boy: the son of an Aryan Brotherhood captain.

Attica Locke is the author of Pleasantville, the winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction that was also longlisted for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction. Her novel The Cutting Season was the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and her first novel Black Water Rising was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. 

We are thrilled to be publishing the next volume in the Highway 59 series next September. Stay tuned for more exciting updates.

Buy your copy of Heaven My Home from your local independent bookshop or:

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Heaven My Home

EXTRACT

He didn’t have time to go home the way he’d come, hugging the north shore of the lake, sailing along a thin canal of relative safety, porch lights on boathouses and craggy lake cabins twinkling hints of civilization. That would take nearly an hour. It would be full-on dark by then, and Levi hadn’t brought a flashlight. He’d set out in a thin jacket with nothing on board but Pappy’s old radio and a single oar pitted with rot that his grandfather had used to pull himself ashore. The radio kept cutting in and out. The antenna was bent halfway down, and in the pockets of silence, a deeper kind of fear took hold. He’d heard the lake went silent come nightfall, Spanish moss on the cypress trees dampening all sound, so that you could feel in this primeval lake on the edge of the state, this swamp at the edge of time, that you were the last man alive.

Not that he’d ever been on the water this late, not even when his granddaddy was still alive. Pappy believed in supper at five o’clock sharp. The Swamp Loon would have been drying in the boathouse by now, Pappy on his third or fourth beer in front of the TV. The old man steered clear of the lake after dark, always warning Levi how easy it was for a man to get turned around once night fell if he was moving solely by the light of a weak headlamp or a shy moon. The lake was big and complex—the many bayous, tributaries, and inlets like a tangle of snakes on the Texas side, at least the part that sat in Marion County—a wetland maze that had mystified outsiders for hundreds of years. If you didn’t know the lake well, you could easily mistake one cypress tree for another, take the wrong bayou pass, and never find your way out, not in near blackout conditions. The thought made Levi’s heart race. The radio shot back on, startling him, Patsy Cline cutting through a burst of static. It was a station out of Shreveport that switched from zydeco to country near suppertime—another sign he was late.