The Confession of Copeland Cane
Copeland Cane V, the child who fell outta Colored People Time and into America, is a fugitive…
He is also just a regular teenager coming up in a terrifying world. A slightly eccentric, flip-phone loving kid with analog tendencies and a sideline hustling sneakers, the boundaries of Copeland’s life are demarcated from the jump by urban toxicity, an educational apparatus with confounding intentions, and a police state that has merged with media conglomerates—the highly-rated Insurgency Alert Desk that surveils and harasses his neighborhood in the name of anti-terrorism.
Recruited by the nearby private school even as he and his folks face eviction, Copeland is doing his damnedest to do right by himself, for himself. And yet the forces at play entrap him in a reality that chews up his past and obscures his future. Copeland’s wry awareness of the absurd keeps life passable, as do his friends and their surprising array of survival skills. And yet in the aftermath of a protest rally against police violence, everything changes, and Copeland finds himself caught in the flood of history.
Set in East Oakland, California in a very near future, The Confession of Copeland Cane introduces us to a prescient and startlingly contemporary voice, one that exposes the true dangers of coming of age in America: miseducation, over-medication, radiation, and incarceration.
Praise for The Confession of Copeland Cane
"These dispatches from Planet Oakland totally blew me away. Imagine Thomas Pynchon, Nathaniel West, and Ralph Ellison going into a bar where they decide to write a novel about the gentrification wars in the East Bay. Under the authorial nom de guerre of 'Keenan Norris,' they create a picaresque hero named Copeland Cane who battles cops, developers, and rich liberals before vanishing in the chaos of an inevitable small apocalypse. Fantastic."
—Mike Davis, author of "Old Gods, New Enigmas"
"Keenan Norris's ear for language is simply genius. This book is praise song, love letter, and requiem for Black and Brown bodies caught up in California's post-pandemic, private-police ruled near future. A powerfully voiced, page-turning novel and required reading for anyone attempting to understand the struggle for racial justice."
—Nayomi Munaweera, author of "What Lies Between Us"
"Keenan Norris has a fiercely prophetic voice. His enthralling portrait of Black life in a nearby dystopia forged by right-wing extremists and media elites will make you rage in recognition. A masterfully written coming-of-age story, “The Confession of Copeland Cane” is a must-read for grasping where the dog whistle politics and hatemongering tactics of living public figures could lead us---and the collective fire it will take to forge a better future."
—Jean Guerrero, author of “Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump and the White Nationalist Agenda” and "Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir"
"'The Confession of Copeland Cane’s' potent cocktail of lyrical dexterity, societal critique, and fascinating characters brings to mind Ishmael Reed’s classic 'Mumbo Jumbo.' With this engaging novel, Keenan Norris announces himself as a voice for a generation living through an age of normalized absurdity. Norris’s voice is necessary and vital—and a call to take heed."
—Dr. Michael Datcher, Author of
"To "Read Confessions of Copeland Cane" is to be enthralled by Keenan Norris' ability to seamlessly inhabit disparate voices while enveloping the reader in the brutality of a corrupt system driven by senseless racism. Norris possesses a singular talent."
—Jervey Tervalon, author of "All the Trouble You Need" and "Dead Above Ground"
"Norris has created a voice that cannot be ignored."
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Readers will appreciate the provocative story and Norris' trenchant insights into the corruption of the press and government and the many ways African Americans and other minorities bear the brunt of racial injustice in America."
"A significant new voice in fiction, Norris has written what may be one of the defining novels of the era at the intersection between Black Lives Matter and COVID-19."
—Wendy Jean Fox, BuzzFeed Books
"The oppression Norris is describing looks a lot like the afflictions of our present, a recognition that is bracing. But when the burden to enlighten, to make things right, is placed on Cope—a kid bearing the weight of failures that are vast and collective—his response becomes engrossing... This is not to say there is no joy or love here. Throughout the novel, there is a lot—for East Oakland, for his parents, for his friends, and for the slain."
—Oscar Villalon, ALTA Journal