A vivid account of life in New York City for the Black and Irish communities and the events that precipitated—and decided—the Civil War, from the Draft Riots and the the decisive entry of Black soldiers into the Union Army, told through the perspective of a mixed-race orphan.
“Corthron, a true heir to James Baldwin, presents a startlingly original exposure of the complex roots of American racism.” —Naomi Wallace, MacArthur “Genius” Playwriting Fellow and author ofOne Flea Spare
InMoon and the Mars, set in the impoverished Five Points district of New York City during the Civil War, we experience neighborhood life through the eyes of a young girl named Theo. We follow her from childhood to adolescence, as a mixed-race orphan living between the homes of her Black and Irish grandmothers.
Over the course of the novel we encounter history from the draft riots that tear New York City asunder to the post-slavery period to Black people being a key part of the Union victory. Theo witnesses everything from the creation of tap dance to P.T. Barnum’s sensationalist museum as white America’s attitudes towards race, people of color, and slavery are shifting—painfully, transformationally—as the nation divides and marches to war.
Corthron’s use of dialogue brings her characters to life in a way that only an award-winning playwright and scriptwriter can do. As Theo grows and attends school, her language and grammar change, as does her own vocabulary when she’s with her Black or Irish families. It’s an extraordinary feat and a revelation for the reader.