Grand River and Joy
LOCAL FICTION, NEW TITLE!
Halloween morning 1966, Harry Levine arrives at his wholesale shoe warehouse to find an ethnic slur soaped on the front window. As he scavenges around the sprawling warehouse basement, looking for the supplies he needs to clean the window, he makes more unsettling discoveries: a stash of Black Power literature; marijuana; a new phone line running off his own; and a makeshift living room, arranged by Alvin, the teenaged tenant who lives with his father, Curtis, above the warehouse. Accustomed to sloughing off fears about Detroit’s troubled inner-city neighborhood, Harry dismisses the soaped window as a Halloween prank and gradually dismantles “Alvin’s lounge” in a silent conversation with the teenaged tenant. Still, these events and discoveries draw him more deeply into the frustrations and fissures permeating his city in the months leading up to the Detroit riots.
Grand River and Joy, named after a landmark intersection in Detroit, follows Harry through the intersections of his life and the history of his city. It’s a work of fiction set in a world that is anything but fictional, a novel about the intersections between races, classes and religions exploding in the long, hot summers of Detroit in the 1960s. Grand River and Joy is a powerful and moving exploration of one of the most difficult chapters of Michigan history.
Susan Messer’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications, including Glimmer Train Stories, North American Review, and Colorado Review. She received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in prose, an Illinois Arts Council literary award for creative nonfiction, and a prize in the Jewish Cultural Writing Competition of the Dora Teitelboim Center for Yiddish Culture.