Them (McCall)

Nathan McCall, 2007
Simon & Schuster
339 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781416549161

This combination fo superbly developed characters, a realistic story line, and descriptions that profoundly capture the essence of this country's urban experience—in black and white—is the formula for the making of this truly great American novel. (From the publisher.)

In Them, Nathan McCall, best known as a memoirist, has tried his hand at fiction with a timely tale of gentrification and its attendant misunderstandings. Set in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward, Them traces the gradual yuppification of a historically black neighborhood and the explosive racial tensions that follow suit. At its center is the tentative relationship—never quite the friendship the novel would have you believe—that develops between resident paranoiac Barlowe Reed and the white armchair liberal who moves in next door.

McCall, to his credit, gives voice to a whole slew of viewpoints, whether the characters are nostalgic '60s civil rights activists struggling to adapt their tactics to a new plight or eager gentrifiers who are blind to why their gestures of civic pride fall short.... Still, Them meets its subject matter head on and gives a nervy glimpse of a community under siege. (Amelia Atlas, from Barnes & Noble.)

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