Lyrical, poetic, and hypnotizing, The Coming tells the story of a people's capture and sojourn from their homeland across the Middle Passage--a traumatic trip that exposed the strength and resolve of the African spirit. Extreme conditions produce extraordinary insight, and only after being stripped of everything do they discover the unspeakable beauty they once took for granted. This powerful, haunting novel will shake readers to their very souls.
"Part homage to the proud and diverse cultures of Africa, part nightmare of the people stolen from those lands, The Coming seduces us with poetry, then breaks our hearts, but ultimately inspires us to celebrate the indomitable soul of humanity." —George Weinstein, author of Hardscrabble Road
Twenty-eight-year-old protagonist Tommy Lee Tyson steps off the Greyhound bus in his hometown of Swamp Creek, Arkansas—a place he left when he was eighteen, vowing never to return. Yet fate and a Ph.D. in black studies force him back to his rural origins as he seeks to understand himself and the black community that produced him.
A cold, nonchalant father and an emotionally indifferent mother make his return, after a ten-year hiatus, practically unbearable, and the discovery of his baby sister's death and her burial in the backyard almost consumes him. His mother watches his agony when he discovers his sister's tombstone, but neither she nor other family members is willing to disclose the secret of her death. Only after being prodded incessantly does his older brother, Willie James, relent and provide Tommy Lee with enough knowledge to figure out exactly what happened and why.
Meanwhile, Tommy's seventy-year-old teacher—lying on her deathbed—asks him to remain in Swamp Creek and assume her position as the headmaster of the one-room schoolhouse. He refuses vehemently and she dies having bequeathed him her five thousand–book collection in the hopes that he will change his mind. Over the course of a one-week visit, riddled with tension, heartache, and revelation, Tommy Lee Tyson discovers truths about his family, his community, and his undeniable connection to rural Southern black folk and their ways.
"A thrilling literary debut...Daniel Black wields a powerful pen, a sharp eye, and muscular prose in giving us a memorable, even haunting story of the ties that bind." -- Michael Eric Dyson
TL in the meantime is back in Swamp Creek, to stay this time, but he's still haunted by his sister's death. His decision to become the Schoolmaster is the only thing he's sure about, and his impact upon the students becomes palpable. But he still doesn't know what happened to Sister. As he searches for ultimate truth, he discovers the secrets and beauty of Swamp Creek.
Twelve Gates to the City is a novel about spiritual revelation, and communal healing, ushered in by one who finally realizes that his gifts were bestowed upon him, not for his own glory, but for the transformation of his people.