Named one of the outstanding novels of 1992 by Publishers Weekly, The New York Times Book Review, and USA Today, I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots established Susan Straight as one of America’s foremost chroniclers of African-American life. In Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights, she fulfills the promise of the earlier book, and reintroduces readers to the inhabitants of fictional Rio Seco, California. This is the story of Darnell Tucker, a black firefighter and workingman trying to work the toughest turf of all: the straight and narrow. As his friends disappear around him—victims of the streets, of police dogs, of drugs, of an addiction to cheap thrills and guns—Darnell struggles to establish his own business, facing a thousand midnights before he’s home free, with a job that supports his young family. Yet even as he gains a tentative sense of self, Darnell Tucker is drawn to the destructive beauty of fires, and to the wilder, untamed forces beyond the structure of domesticity. This search for balance in a dangerous world propels the quiet heroism of a beautifully evoked and very moving story.
Susan Straight, professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, has won the Gold Medal for Fiction from the San Francisco-based Commonwealth Club for her fifth novel, “Highwire Moon.” All her novels are set in the fictitious town of Rio Seco, a loose parallel to her hometown of Riverside, where she still lives.