Copyright ©2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

DON GONYEA, HOST:

The suburbs can be a creepy place. And they're at their creepiest in Patrick Flannery's new novel "Fallen Land." It's a dark and complex thriller set in a half-built subdivision where construction has ground to a halt during the housing crisis. That subdivision sits on what was once a family farm. Saddled with debt after her husband died, Louise Washington is forced to sell the land her family worked for generations.

Washington's story is just one tale of dispossession in this portrait of a modern-day dystopia, but she's the only main character in the book who is African-American. I asked Patrick Flannery, who is white, what it's like to write across racial boundaries and create a character as complex and compelling as Louise Washington.

PATRICK FLANNERY: I mean, it's something that I don't take lightly at all, and I hope that African-American readers will think that I've done her justice. But I think that having gone to integrated schools from the age of 10 and having from that age extremely strong female African-American role models made me feel as though I could take the risk of trying to write from her perspective.

I mean. it's interesting. I had an interview with a British journalist recently who had read it and said, you know, it didn't seem to me like what I imagined an African-American woman should sound like. He said: I was expecting this sort of finger-snapping sassiness. And I said: No. You know, that's absolutely not who she is. And what I wanted to do more than anything was try to avoid stereotype and, you know, not fall into the traps of representations of race that I think are really easily fallen into.

GONYEA: Patrick Flannery is the author of the new novel "Fallen Land."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: