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A fierce, intelligent, and often hilarious novel about a young African American attorney who struggles to keep his cool in the personally and politically turbulent '90s.
“While loss and loneliness are at its core, Knucklehead is a mordantly funny book.” —San Francisco Chronicle, Recommended Reading
In Knucklehead we meet Marcus Hayes, a black law student who struggles, sometimes unsuccessfully, with the impulse to confront everyday bad behavior with swift and antisocial action. The cause of this impulse is unknown to him.
When Marcus unexpectedly becomes involved with the brilliant and kind Amalia Stewart, her love and acceptance pacify his demons. But when his demons return, he is no longer inclined to contain them.
About the Author
Adam Smyer is an attorney, martial artist, and mediocre bass player. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and cats. Knucklehead, Smyer’s debut novel, was the sole title shortlisted for the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.
This laugh-out-loud novel, set mostly in the 1990s Bay Area and written by a Black Bay Area attorney, details the misadventures of a funny, smart, outrageous, volatile and young Black lawyer whose life spins out of control as he faces personal and societal demons.
— San Francisco Examiner
Here is a list of things you’ll need to read this book: ample space for stretching out the side stitches you’ll get from laughter; half a box of tissues for the most gripping and harrowing dramas at the heart of the novel; a fresh stress ball for the tense situations the protagonist finds himself in (both of his own doing and not); and just a bit of that space in your heart to see people, in all their complexity, trying to do their best.
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Marcus is an intelligent, acerbic, and often hilarious narrator, bringing a fresh, biting perspective to the social and racial tensions of the time that, as debut novelist Smyer makes clear, are not particularly different from today.
— Library Journal
Smyer’s debut explores themes of the self in chaos; the prose is clean as bone and the anger is focused and piercing.
— Michigan Quarterly Review
In this comic debut novel, lawyer Marcus Hayes careens through the racially divisive 1990s while trying to manage his compulsive anger, chaotic love life, and economic misfortunes . . . Smyer gives Marcus a sardonic and hilarious voice reminiscent of a Paul Beatty protagonist and endows him with a troubled psychology that plumbs the nuances of black male identity.
— Kirkus Reviews