From the author of the 2016 Man Booker Prize winner The Sellout comes a novel as fast-paced and hard-edged as the Harlem streets it portrays.
Age nineteen and weighing in at 320 pounds, Winston “Tuffy” Foshay, is an East Harlem denizen who breaks jaws and shoots dogs and dreams of millions from his idea Cap’n Crunch: The Movie, starring Danny DeVito. His best friend is a disabled Muslim who wants to rob banks, his guiding light is an ex-hippie Asian woman who worked for Malcolm X, and his wife, Yolanda, he married from jail over the phone.
He’s funny and fierce, frustrated and feared. And when Tuff decides to run for City Council, this dazzling novel goes from profoundly funny to acerbically sublime. Populated with an incisively hilarious supporting case and filled with meaning and irreverent, Tuff is satire at its hard-edged best.
A zany, riotous concoction of nonstop hip-hop chatter and brilliant mainstream social satire, Beatty's second novel depicts the unusual coming-of-age of 19-year-old, obese African-American Winston "Tuffy" Foshay, who tries to rise above his rough-and-tumble life on the vicious streets of Spanish Harlem. He wakes up to reality when he survives a shooting in a Brooklyn drug den, and his commitment to becoming a new man is clinched after a crack binge leaves him deranged and hiding in his bedroom closet. Both drug dealer and abuser, he understands the addict's need for illegal substances to escape the despair that pervades his impoverished, violent community. The novel's manic comedy is balanced by the telling portrayal of Winston's topsy-turvy marriage to Yolanda, the mother of their year-old son, Jordy. Following a harrowing visit to prison to see his father, Winston reaches out for another type of mentor in Spenser Throckmorton, freelance rabbi, lecturer and journalist, who, along with Yolanda and his political activist-surrogate mom, Inez, encourages Winston to run for City Council. In a series of howlingly funny scenes, Beatty uses the youth's inept campaign to get in some wicked shots at the American electoral process, voter apathy, conservative politics, liberals and political fat cats. While the book's freewheeling conclusion sounds a note of triumph, Beatty acknowledges the overall lack of promise and opportunity in the lives of young blacks in communities neglected by society at large. His supporting cast of rogue characters is expertly drawn, providing the perfect complement for Winston's many comic miscues. Beatty's book is full of deep belly laughs, wonderfully knowing observations on society and pop culture, all delivered with the same imaginative originality and skill that informed his acclaimed debut work, The White Boy Shuffle.