I first heard of this book from Instagram and Twitter but mostly from Ana [who works at Quercus] who loved this book a lot. What I found amazing is that Quercus gave a copy of A Different Drummer to their employees and gave them a morning off to read it which shows how they feel about it. I am so glad and grateful I had this book sent to me.
‘I mean it seems horrible that the most you can do for people you love is leave them alone.’
In a fictional town called Sutton, one black man, Tucker Caliban, throws salt on his fields, shoots his horse and cow, sets fire to his house and departs Sutton. Along with him other black towns folk follow. From this point the story is told from white towns folk perspective – whether it be male, female, adult or child.
‘It was that gradually, going back as far as I can remember, they kept saying less and less to each other until the time came – this is the time I’m talking about – that they didn’t say anything at all to each other . . . except maybe at night when I guess married people feel most alone, when they realize how little they have in common, and how much they’ve lost.’
I don’t tend to read these stories often but when I do I really appreciate them because I love learning something new from them. When I say ‘these stories’ I mean stories tackling race issues – where I live there are not many black people and it’s predominantly white but I have always been raised to view everyone as equal which I’m grateful for. I found A Different Drummer to be such an interesting read that I teared up a few times while reading it. The ending of the book left me broken because of how people can be cruel and selfish. I love the idea of telling the story from white people’s POV because it is very fascinating. I have actually raced through at least 200+ pages in a day and finished the book because I found it to be so compelling and the story-telling to be excellent. William Melvin Kelley shows great writing skills and I would absolutely love to read the rest of his works. The story felt and is relevant today and I think more people should get to know this author better by reading A Different Drummer. This is the kind of book that makes you dissect it after you’ve finished it. I honestly don’t know what else to say about this book except that I found it to be so well written considering that the author was 23 at the time.
I would like to thank the publisher Quercus Books (Riverrun) and Ana for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and weren’t influenced by anything.
**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.
William Melvin Kelley was a prominent African-American novelist and short-story writer. He was educated at the Fieldston School in New York and later attended Harvard University (class of 1960), where he won the Dana Reed Prize for creative writing. William Melvin Kelley has been a writer in residence at the State University of New York at Geneseo and has taught at the New School for Social Research. He currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. In 2008, he won the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award.