John Washington, professor of history, is drawn back to his small town when he hears that his friend and mentor old Jack Crawley is dying.
Jack Crawley had always been a storyteller. Before he dies, he tells John one last story, and leaves him a strange bequest that sets John on a search for the truth about his father ? a man who began as a maker of illegal whiskey and ended as the wealthiest and most influential black member of the community.
As John unravels his family history, he discovers a tale of intrigue leading back to slavery days.
The Chaneysville Incident ? winner of the PEN/Faulkner award as the best American novel of 1981 ? stuns like a thriller and awes like an epic. Quite simply one of the major novels of the decade.
David Bradley was born in 1950 in Bedford, a small town in western Pennsylvania 'perilously close to the Mason-Dixon line'. The county had about a hundred black people in a population of thirty thousand.
'It was not that hospitable for blacks,' says Bradley, 'or that comfortable'.
In 1968 Bradley went to the University
of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he studied English and creative writing.
He later was a post-graduate at King's College, London, and subsequently worked as an editor for a U.S. publisher.Bradley's first novel, South Street, was published in 1975.
The idea for The Chaneysville Incident goes back to
1969, when Bradley's mother, commissioned to research the history of Blacks in Bedford, discovered that there were thirteen unmarked graves on the property of a local landowner.
A story that had always had the power of myth suddenly took on the force of fact.David Bradley now teaches English at Temple University in Philadelphia.
?Certainly the most important piece of fiction I?ve read so far this year; perhaps the most significant work by a new male black author since James Baldwin dazzled the early ?60s with his fine fury: Chaneysville has fury too, tempered by the sweetness of legend and the neutrality of truth? Los Angeles Times
?The finest novel of the black experience since Ralph Ellison?s Invisible Man? John Barkham Reviews
?What he (Bradley) can do, at a pretty high level of energy, is synchronize five different kinds of rhetoric, control a complicated plot, manage a good-sized cast of characters, convey a lot of information, handle an intricate time scheme, pull off a couple of final tricks that dramatize provocative ideas, and generally keep things going for 200,000 words. That?s about two and a half books for most of us? New York Times Book Review