Like Trees Walking

Alabama native Howard revisits a 1981 Mobile, Ala., lynching in his debut novel, an extended version of a short story he wrote that won the 2001 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award. Narrator Roy Deacon, a 17-year-old seventh-generation mortician, is pressed into service after his brother, Paul, discovers a friend's body hanging from a camphor tree. Roy prepares the body for burial while the community's most fiery leaders rally to press the police to find a better explanation for murder than "a drug deal gone wrong."

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