A didactic, irresistible novel

Leonard Pitts's story is so compelling that you barely notice how much you're learning.

It is Tuesday, November 4, 2008: a historic election day. Will America soon have its first African-American president?

In Leonard Pitts’s novel, Malcolm Marcus Toussaint is a 60-year-old black newspaper journalist who doesn’t think so.  Out of patience, out of faith, out of sorts, he has given up “the foolish notion that white people can be redeemed.” He is tired of explaining “the same things to white people, year in, year out, over and over again . . . and them not listening.” He still has enough energy, however, to defy his employer and sneak a furious rant onto the front page of the morning edition—an act that immediately gets both him and his boss fired.

Dwayne McLarty and Clarence Pym, a mismatched pair of white supremacists, don’t think Barack Obama will win the presidency either. McLarty, a meth addict, and Pym, a loner with a disfiguring disease, want to take America back from blacks, Jews, Mus­lims, and gays. Whoever wins the election, they plan to send a wake-up call to white Christian America by bombing the crowd awaiting election returns in Chicago’s Grant Park.