I saw As Lie is to Grin (Catapult, 2017) at my local public library and was intrigued from the book jacket. The protagonist, David, is an African American student at the University of Vermont, and flashes back to his high school days when he dated Melody, a young woman whose grandfather “passed” at the University of Vermont decades ago while the university had an annual tradition of dressing up in blackface.
This is one of my favorite books this year so far, although it came out late last year. It’s funny and jaw-dropping at the same time. And I love Marsalis’s references to the many architectural styles on campus, which becomes an almost obsession of David’s. He also ties in Jean Toomer’s Harlem Renaissance novel, Cane, to his story. My favorite part, though, was Melody’s grandfather’s story.
It’s a quick story and less than 200 pages, so is great for a short flight or a relaxing weekend. Simeon Marsalis is only in his late 20s. I can’t wait to read his next book.