From the author of Into the Sun and Vandal Love, acclaimed for “prose that’s both lyrical and gritty, able to evoke big emotions with exquisite intimacy” (O, The Oprah Magazine), White is a riveting novel that explores whiteness, modern humanitarianism, and the lies of American exceptionalism and white supremacy.
Assigned to write an exposé on Richmond Hew, the conservation world’s most elusive and corrupt humanitarian worker, an intrepid journalist finds himself on a plane to the Democratic Republic of the Congo – a country he thinks he understands. But when he meets Sola, a woman searching for a rootless white orphan who believes herself possessed by a skin-stealing demon, he slowly uncovers a tapestry of corruption and racial tensions generations in the making.
This harrowing search leads him into an underground network of sinners and saints – and everything in between: an anthropologist who treats orphans like test subjects; a community of charismatic Congolese preachers; street children who share accounts of sexual abuse and abandonment; a renowned and revered conservationist who suddenly vanishes. And then there is the journalist himself, Deni Béchard, lost in his own misunderstanding of privilege and the myth of whiteness, and plagued by traumatic memories of his father. At first seemingly unrelated, these disparate elements coalesce one by one into a map of Richmond Hew’s movements.
Fevered and dreamlike, White offers readers a poignant re-entry into the haunting and psychologically complex world of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
Deni Ellis Béchard is the author of Vandal Love (Common-wealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book); Of Bonobos and Men (Nautilus Book Award for investigative journalism and Grand Prize winner); Cures for Hunger, a memoir about his bank robber father (selected as one of the best memoirs of 2012 by Amazon.ca); and Into the Sun (Midwest Book Award for literary fiction and selected by CBC Radio Canada as one of 2017’s Incontournables and one of the most important books of the year to be read by Canada’s political leaders). He has reported from India, Cuba, Rwanda, Colombia, Iraq, the Congo, and Afghanistan. He has been a finalist for a Canadian National Magazine Award and has been featured in Best Canadian Essays 2017, and his photojournalism has been exhibited in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. His articles, fiction, and photos have been published in newspapers and magazines around world, including the LA Times, Salon, Reuters, The Guardian, Patagonia, La Repubblica, The Walrus, Pacific Standard, Le Devoir, Vanity Fair Italia, The Herald Scotland, The Huffington Post, The Harvard Review, The National Post, and Foreign Policy Magazine.