Winner of the 2012 James D. Houston Award: Keenan Norris’s “Brother and the Dancer”

Keenan Norris

For the second winner of the James D. Houston Award, our annual prize named after the late, great Santa Cruz author and aimed at publishing emerging writers on the West, we have chosen Brother and the Dancer by Keenan Norris, a doctoral candidate in English at UC Riverside. A 2005 graduate of the Mills College MFA program in English and creative writing, Norris currently teaches English and African American literature at Evergreen Valley College. Brother and the Dancer will be his first published book.

Keenan Norris’s first novel is a beautiful, gritty, coming-of-age tale about two young African Americans in the San Bernardino Valley—a story of exceptional power, lyricism, and depth. Erycha and Toussaint live only a few miles apart in the city of Highland, but their worlds are starkly separated by the lines of class, violence, and history. In alternating chapters that touch and intertwine only briefly, Brother and the Dancer follows their adolescence and young adulthood on two sides of the city, the luminous San Bernardino Mountain range casting its hot shade over their separate tales in an unflinching vision of black life in Southern California.

Coming Fall 2013.