Review: Love, loss and racism in ‘The Son of Mr. Suleman’

“The Son of Mr. Suleman,” Eric Jerome Dickey (Dutton)

“The Son of Mr. Suleman,” the final novel by the late Eric Jerome Dickey, is the profound story of Professor Pi Suleman, a Black man living in Memphis who, in 2019, must constantly navigate a world governed by Trump-supporting white supremacists. His colleagues where he is an adjunct professor are constantly making racist comments, and his career hangs in the balance due to threats from a high-powered professor who both assaults him and blackmails him.

Amidst all of this, Pi meets the captivating Gemma Buckingham. As he is falling madly in love with her, he learns that his estranged father, a world-renowned author, has died.

As Pi works to unravel Gemma Buckingham’s secrets, he must also navigate the complex legacy his father left behind, while also doing everything he can to keep himself safe against the power-hungry professor who is determined to make his life hell. Pi’s life has become about protecting himself while also trying to be a good son to his mother, a good brother to his siblings, and the best teacher he can be to the students who depend on him.

This book is a powerhouse. It is impossible not to become fully absorbed in every scene, the vibrant, dynamic characters drawing you in again and again. It is by no means a light read. The story is dense, and in many ways quite disturbing, but it is this way in its unapologetic effort to confront the dark realities and harsh truths that we continue to face today.

All in all, the world through Pi Suleman’s eyes is dark, complex, and endlessly compelling.


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