The Confession Of Copeland Cane

BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus

The new novel by Keenan (“Brother and the Dancer”) Norris is the work of a young African-American writer of power and potency. Norris is also a master of black slang as heard on the streets of East Oakland, better known as the ‘hood. His hero, Copeland Cane V, grew up in The Rock, the nickname of the Rockwood apartment complex which is being torn down by the forces of gentrification and exploitation, much to the dismay of its poor but hard-working black residents.

This modern-day version of redlining occurs without much opposition in THE CONFESSION OF COPELAND CANE, if only because America in the post-COVID years has become a fascist police state which forbids dissent, especially from its black citizens. Racial terror and violence are the norm, with killer cops doing the dirty work for the right-wing zealots who rule the nation.

Eighteen-year-old Copeland is one of the luckier young men in the ‘hood. Thanks to his intelligence and prowess as an athlete, he wins a scholarship to an elite private school called Piedmontagne. He lives a double life there: spiritually he still feels loyal to his roots, even as he struggles to function in the white world. Eventually he rejects the role his masters have laid out for him, only to pay the price for having rebelled when he is charged with taking part in violent protest rally. Cane flees arrest and becomes a fugitive, hiding out somewhere in the sinister, dystopian world of the 22nd century.
Raw and rude, packed with mother-wit and irreverence, and always passionately alive and compelling, THE CONFESSIONS OF COPELAND CANE is a gutsy cautionary tale, a communique from the battlefield where left and right, black and white, slug it out in the disunited states of America.

(The Unnamed Press,$28 hdbnd, visit