'My father is black and my mother is white and my brother is a vegetable.'
When Emma Boudreaux's older brother winds up in a coma after a freak accident, she loses her compass:
only Bernie was able to navigate--if not always diplomatically--the terrain of their mixed-race identity. And although her father and brother are bound by a haunting past that Emma slowly uncovers, she sees that she might just escape.
In this autobiographical first novel, Emily Raboteau jumps immediately into the politics of heritage. When you have a black father and a white mother, people judge your blackness by the tone of your skin color, the texture of your hair and, as she puts it, 'the Bantu of your butt.'
To make matters more culturally complicated for this family, they live in the rarefied academic atmosphere of Princeton University, where the lonely, haunted father is a star professor of African theology. It will take exploring the history of three generations before Emma can construct an identity for herself.
Emma, narrating the story from the perspective of a young adult, jumps back and forth in time to tell the details of Bernie's demise. His importance to her very existence is evident and it's what starts her whole exploration of her identity. Since he's the older, more confident sibling, she defines herself according to him, and when he's zapped out of her life, she has to fend for herself.
In exhilarating prose, The Professor's Daughter traces the borderlands of race and family, contested territory that gives rise to rage, confusion, madness, and invisibility. This astonishingly original voice surges with energy and purpose.
The Professor's Daughter by Emily Raboteau, is available on amazon.co.uk.