Author of the week
There’s a reason Attica Locke started regularly wearing cowboy boots a few years ago, said Dwyer Murphy in LitHub.com. Though she’s lived and worked in Los Angeles for two decades, the novelist and television screenwriter is an East Texas native who dreamed up her first stories during long drives to visit family along a rural highway running north out of Houston. “I never really got Texas out of my system,” she says. That world of red dirt, piney woods, and interracial community, but also racist violence, provides the setting for her fifth novel, Bluebird, Bluebird, in which a black Texas Ranger investigates a pair of possibly racially motivated killings on a stretch of U.S. Highway 59 that Locke’s family used to drive.
Highway 59 has historic significance too, dating to the Great Migration, said Rachel Martin in NPR.org. “For black folks, that was the road North,” says Locke. “That was the road to get out of Texas.” Her novel’s protagonist, Ranger Darren Mathews, like Locke’s 19thcentury forebears, chose to make a stand in East Texas— in Mathews’ case, even after a law school education in Chicago. “It’s a quintessentially Texas thing, this idea about not getting run off,” Locke says. Darren’s ambivalence about his home turf mirrors the author’s own. “He feels that it doesn’t belong to its worst impulses,” she says, “that people who hold racist views don’t get to decide what a state or country is; that as long as he is present there, too, as long as he is wearing a badge, there is a chance that he can define the state as being a place that is fundamentally hospitable to black life.”