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2019 First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association
Malcolm Hansen arrives on the scene as a bold new literary voice with his stunning debut novel. Alternating between the Deep South and New York City during the 1960s and early '70s, They Come in All Colors follows a biracial teenage boy who finds his new life in the big city disrupted by childhood memories of the summer when racial tensions in his hometown reached a tipping point.
It's 1968 when fourteen-year-old Huey Fairchild begins high school at Claremont Prep, one of New York City’s most prestigious boys’ schools. His mother had uprooted her family from their small hometown of Akersburg, Georgia, a few years earlier, leaving behind Huey’s white father and the racial unrest that ran deeper than the Chattahoochee River.
But for our sharp-tongued protagonist, forgetting the past is easier said than done. At Claremont, where the only other nonwhite person is the janitor, Huey quickly realizes that racism can lurk beneath even the nicest school uniform. After a momentary slip of his temper, Huey finds himself on academic probation and facing legal charges. With his promising school career in limbo, he begins examining his current predicament at Claremont through the lens of his childhood memories of growing up in Akersburg during the Civil Rights Movement—and the chilling moments leading up to his and his mother's flight north.
With Huey’s head-shaking antics fueling this coming-of-age narrative, the story triumphs as a tender and honest exploration of race, identity, family, and homeland.
About the Author
Malcolm Hansen was born at the Florence Crittenton Home for unwed mothers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Adopted by two Civil Rights activists, he grew up in Morocco, Spain, Germany, and various parts of the United States. Malcolm left home as a teenager and, after two years of high school education, went to Stanford, earning a BA in philosophy. He worked for a few years in the software industry in California before setting off for what turned out to be a decade of living, working, and traveling throughout Central America, South America, and Europe. Malcolm returned to the US to complete an MFA in Fiction at Columbia University. He currently lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
“An urgent and heartrending novel about an America on the brink. With force, Malcolm Hansen writes about race, identity and the fleeting deceptions of youth.”—Matt Gallagher, author of Youngblood
“This is a voice so honest and alive it feels like a stranger whispering a confession in a dark room. Malcolm Hansen's novel is a prodigious debut of a rare literary talent.”—Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day and Pym
“In They Come in All Colors, Malcolm Hanson is not writing about saints or monsters, just vivid human beings. And does so with humor and insight.” —Victor LaValle, award-winning author of The Changeling and The Ballad of Black Tom
"Emotionally acute...eye-opening and rewarding for a wide range of readers."—Library Journal (starred review)
“It's possible to imagine literary recluses J.D. Salinger and Harper Lee coming out of hiding to forge this shaggy, rakish, yet haunting account of a smart aleck's coming-of-age in harsh times.”—Kirkus
“A compelling and touching debut novel. Every scene pulls you in to Huey’s journey from child to man against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement.” —Barbara Hendricks, award-winning opera singer, author and humanitarian
“Incredibly and masterfully written. For a debut, this definitely makes Malcolm Hansen an author to watch.”—SJ Lomas, author of Dream Girl
“Confident and ambitious debut novel.”—AM New York