ABOUT THIS BOOK
In Chi Boy, Keenan Norris melds memoir, cultural criticism, and literary biography to indelibly depict Chicago—from the Great Migration to the present day—as both a cradle of black intellect, art, and politics and a distillation of America’s deepest tragedies. With the life and work of Richard Wright as his throughline, Norris braids the story of his family and particularly of his father, Butch Norris, with those of other black men—Wright, Barack Obama, Ralph Ellison, Frank Marshall Davis—who have called Chicago home. Along the way he examines the rise of black street organizations and the murders of Yummy Sandifer and Hadiya Pendleton to examine the city’s status in the cultural imaginary as “Chi-Raq,” a war zone within the nation itself. In Norris’s telling, the specter of violence over black life is inescapable: in the South that Wright and Butch Norris escaped, in the North where it finds new forms, and worldwide where American militarism abroad echoes brutalities at home. Yet, in the family story at the center of this unforgettable book, Norris also presents an enduring vision of hope and love.