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Red Clay Suzie
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize
Inspired by true events,Red Clay Suzieis thecoming–of–age story of Philbet Lawson, a gay, physically misshapen boy growing up in a deeply conservative family and community in the Deep South.
Fueled by tomato sandwichesandgreen milkshakes,and obsessed with cars, Philbetstruggles with life and love as a gay boy in rural Georgia. He’shappiest when helping Grandaddy dig potatoes from the vegetable garden that connectstheir houses.But Philbet’s world is shattered and his resilience shaken by events that crush his innocence and sense of security; expose his misshapen chest skillfully hidden behind shirts Mama makes at home; and convince him that he’s not fit to be loved by Knox, the older boy he idolizes to distraction.
Over time,Philbet finds refuge inunexpected placesand inner strength in unexpected ways, leading to aresolution in the form of a letter from beyond the grave.