Top positive review
A compelling reminder of a tragic event
Reviewed in the United States on August 20, 2021
This year, 2021, marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, a sordid event in history that has been much in the news as late but for the past century was ignored. In the late 1990s, Jewell Parker Rhoades took what little was known about the massacre and created the novel Magic City. Briefly, the massacre occurred when a Black young man was accused of assaulting a white female elevator operator; she refused to testify and charges against the young man were dropped, but only after an entire Black community was decimated by angry, racist white Tulsans. Rhoades took this account and created a full, rich story, birthing entirely new characters, to the point of inventing the Black man and the white woman and interweaving their stories. She creates a rewarding, insightful, and compelling story set against the backdrop of the riots. Using a bit of magical realism, we are taken inside the minds of the two characters as they work their emotional selves through the events of the day, coming to decisions that affect their lives and, indeed, the entire community’s lives. Magic City is a powerful tale that gives us a sense of this horrific historical event even while inventing the people who went through it. The book fleshes out the story so well that we are tempted to believe all of it is true while reminding ourselves this is a fictional account that closely parallels the actual one. It has been a long time since I found a book so thrilling with characters so richly drawn. It is a gift to the world the publisher decided to bring out a new edition in this hundredth anniversary year of this stain on Tulsan, and American, history.