On Our Shelves Now
An NPR Best Book of the Year
A wildly original, incendiary story about race, redemption, the dangerous imbalances that continue to destabilize society, and speaking out for what’s right.
One could argue the story begins the night Allegra Douglass is awarded Distinguished Chair in Philosophy at her top-tier university in New York—the same night her grandmother dies—or before that: the day Allie left Birmingham and never looked back. Or even before that: the day her mother disappeared. But for our purposes Allie’s story begins at the end, when she is finally ready to tell her version of what happened with a white supremacist named Matthew Strong.
From the beginning, Allie had the clues: in a spate of possibly connected disappearances of other young Black women; in a series of recently restored plantation homes; in letters outlining an uprising; in maps of slave trade routes and old estates; in hidden caves and buried tunnels; and finally, in a confessional that should never have existed. They just have to make a case strong enough for the FBI and police to listen. This is when Allie herself disappears.
Allie is a survivor. She survived the newly post-Jim Crow south, she survived cancer, and she will survive being stalked and kidnapped by Matthew Strong, who seeks to ignite a revolution. The surprise in this doesn’t lie in the question of will she be taken; it lies in how she and her community outsmart a tactical madman.
About the Author
Ousmane K. Power-Greene is the Program Director of Africana Studies and an Associate Professor of History at Clark University. Power-Greene is the author of Against Wind and Tide: The African American Struggle Against the Colonization Movement, and his writing appears in The Harlem Renaissance Revisited: Politics, Arts, and Letters. He’s been featured on All Things Considered, C-SPAN Book TV, and NPR’s history podcast Throughline.
“A terrifying page-turner…The racial violence in the story is raw and unsettling, but it underscores the message here—that radical ideology is an enemy to be taken seriously.” —NPR, Best Books of the Year
“Fans of the [thriller] genre will delight in Power-Greene’s studied interpretation: His deft choreography inspires genuine suspense. But…the novel is most compelling when it slips into the more modest trappings of psychological drama…an existential odyssey of a dislocated academic who, having professionalized her politics, has accidentally turned the world into an object of study.” —New York Times
“This arresting first novel…tells a moving crime tale that’s all too timely.” —Publishers Weekly
“Power-Greene marries plot and pacing with decades of historical research…a thought-provoking examination of race and politics and violence wrapped inside a timely, compelling story.” —Shelf Awareness
“The grandeur of the Harlem Renaissance beautifully backgrounds The Confessions of Matthew Strong. Fitting because, like Rudolph Fisher and Zora Neale Hurston, Power-Greene knows from slave shackle to noose to the nightly news, the black experience in America has been a perpetual crime story. This moving and exceedingly sharp thriller shreds the pretense that America’s murderous history is a ‘whodunit’ and not a ‘wedunit.’” —Paul Beatty, New York Times bestselling author of The Sellout
“Ousmane K. Power-Greene is a writer who always thrills and challenges. His work is thoughtful and provocative, moving and meaningful. He’s the real deal.” —Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling
“A piercing, affecting novel about sisters and family, race and power, and the impossibility of choosing to escape an identity or create one. A chilling, suspenseful tale that is both thought-provoking and immersive and will keep readers glued to the page. Highly recommended.” —Abby Collette, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of A Deadly Inside Scoop
“You won’t be able to put The Confessions of Matthew Strong down as you follow protagonist and professor Allie Douglass from the subtle racism of academia in the Northeast to Alabama, where she falls into the deep hollows of white supremacy. A thriller, a mystery, and a subtle social commentary, Ousmane K. Power-Greene’s novel will leave you looking at the world in a different way.” —Alexander Laban Hinton, author of It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Rising Threat of Genocide in the US