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Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996.

Minnesota novelist Marlon James offers peek at new series he calls 'African Game of Thrones'

The cover of Marlon James' new novel

The cover of Marlon James' new novel

Marlon James describes his new series as "an African 'Game of Thrones,'" and even though the first in the series won't be published until February 2019, the buzz is already starting.

Entertainment Weekly had the honors of doing the cover reveal (just moments ago), and here it is, in all its teal and pink and purple and snake and tongue glory. It's spectacular! And it was done by Venezuelan artist Pablo Gerardo Comacho.

The book will be published by Riverhead Press, and here is their description of the series: 

"In the stunning first novel in Marlon James's Dark Star trilogy, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.

"Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: "He has a nose," people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.

"As Tracker follows the boy's scent--from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers--he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?

"Drawing from African history and mythology and his own rich imagination, Marlon James has written a novel unlike anything that's come before it: a saga of breathtaking adventure that's also an ambitious, involving read. Defying categorization and full of unforgettable characters, Black Leopard, Red Wolf is both surprising and profound as it explores the fundamentals of truth, the limits of power, and our need to understand them both."

Marlon James.

Marlon James.

Marlon James is the Man Booker Prize-winning author of "A Brief History of Seven Killings." He teaches at Macalester College, where he is their first writer-in-residence, and lives in St. Paul.


Wednesday is Tracy K. Smith Day in Minnesota

Tracy K. Smith. Photo by Jason DeCrow—AP

Tracy K. Smith. Photo by Jason DeCrow, Associated Press

In a lovely proclamation, larded with "whereases" and shiny with his big gold seal, Gov.Mark Dayton has declared Wednesday, May 16, as Tracy K. Smith Day in MInnesota.

That is the day the U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet will speak at Talk of the Stacks at the Hennepin County Library on Nicollet Mall. (Free! 7 p.m. Tomorrow! You should go! But get there early--doors open at 6:15.)

The proclamation notes that "Tracy K. Smith's works have been published since 2003 by Minneapolis independent publisher Graywolf Press, one of Minnesota's award-winning publishers of diverse and singular voices; and Smith's newest book, "Wade in the Water," was published in April 2018 by Graywolf Press."

(Speaking of "Wade in the Water," here is a link to our review.)

Graywolf publisher Fiona McCrae said, in an exuberant press release, "That Tracy K. Smith is being recognized by the Governor in this way is a great thing for poetry in general, and for her wise, expansive, questioning poetry in particular. Graywolf is so proud to have published Tracy K. Smith's books of poetry, and have delighted in all her awards and honors, including the Pulitzer Prize. It is hard to think of a more perfect Poet Laureate for America at this challenging hour, and we are so grateful to the Minneapolis Public Library for hosting her visit to the Twin Cities."

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