LORRAINE DEVON WILKE’S THIRD NOVEL, THE ALCHEMY OF NOISE, ventures beyond the humor and pathos of family drama explored so cleverly in her first two novels to dig deeper into contemporary culture at large. At its heart it’s a love story, if one framed by the provocation of race dynamics in modern-day America, specifically the disparate impact of prejudice, privilege, racial conflict, and police profiling on the various characters involved.
Haven written often on the many-tentacled issue of racism via her work at HuffPost, Devon Wilke was well aware of the controversial and sometimes contentious debate over whose voice gets to have those conversations, who has true insight to offer; who should talk, who should listen, and how we process information from the side we’re not on. Despite the sensitivities surrounding those issues, her gut told her she had a worthy and topical story to tell; because of those sensitivities, her mission was to tell it authentically, allowing the many, frequently illuminating, sometimes painful, and often harsh viewpoints of each character to be included—unvarnished—throughout.
Tapping her own experience in a long-term mixed-race relationship earlier in her life, along with perspective born of prodigious research, myriad interviews, and essential input from sensitivity readers, she wrote THE ALCHEMY OF NOISE, a poignant, affecting love story framed by a provocative exploration of race in modern day America.
In a world so full of lonely people and broken hearts, CHRIS HAWKINS, a black sound engineer from Chicago’s south side, and SIDONIE FRAME, white, suburban-raised; head manager of one of the city’s most elite venues, meet by work-related happenstance and fall quickly in love, convinced that by that act alone they can inspire peace, joy, and happiness in the world around them.
They’d reflect often upon that fleeting optimism in the many months ahead.
Their meeting was serendipitous. Chris, who runs his own sound company, is surrounded largely by members of his own community, and Sidonie is rarely outside the environs of work and its predominantly white clientele… their paths would likely have never crossed. But when the club’s sound manager goes AWOL on the night of a big event, and Chris is hired to come in as a last-minute replacement, destinies collide.
Immediately drawn to each other, they fall quickly into an unexpected and thrilling relationship, inspiring a spectrum of reaction amongst various family and friends on both sides of their lives. But even as their attachment evolves, the day-to-day tensions and disruptions of Chris’s life as a black man in the gritty environs of Chicago quickly become a cultural flashpoint, challenging Sidonie’s privileged worldview, as well as his ability to translate events. After an unpredictable and gut-wrenching series of unwarranted police encounters shakes their resilience, it’s the shattering circumstance of a violent arrest, in which Chris is identified as a serial vandal and potential rapist, that sends their lives into free fall.
He claims his innocence, she believes him, but the forces pushing against them both at this point are many and strong. With a looming trial to endure, the dissipating loyalties of key allies, and unforeseen twists that can’t help but trigger doubt and suspicion, Sidonie and Chris are driven to question what they really know of each other and just who to trust. As new details emerge, pushing the narrative in surprising directions, they must both decide where their lines of trust and forgiveness are drawn, leading to a powerful and emotional conclusion.
THE ALCHEMY OF NOISE is set for an April 9, 2019 release via SHE WRITES PRESS, an award-winning hybrid publisher founded in 2012 by Kamy Wicoff and Brooke Warner. A wide-ranging marketing campaign will start in the months leading up to and through the launch; if you’d be interested in being an advance readers or part of a “street team,” be sure to drop a message on the Contact Page.
Publishing updates will be posted here and on social media… more to come!
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