Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Kingsblood Royal

by Sinclair Lewis

Neil Kingsblood has been told that his family may have “royal” blood. As a favor to his father, Neil researches his family’s origins. What he learns is quite the opposite of what was expected: Neil has Negro blood.

What follows Neil’s discovery is pure Sinclair Lewis: Neil announces his Negro status to everyone in town. And, as one might imagine, this is neither a popular nor a positive announcement. In fact, this leads to a shunning of Neil and his family.

It is wildly humorous that his fellow residents in Grand Republic, Minnesota accept his newly discovered Negro status without question, but do not accept him anymore. They have known him to be an upstanding citizen in town for his entire life, but this little drop of Negro blood has tainted their opinion of him.

It is an eye-opening experience for Neil and his wife. And very painful, too. Neil could stand to lose everything simply due to the race of one of his ancestors.

Funny, dark, and quite before its time, Kingsblood Royal rings as true today as it did when it was published in 1947. Sadly, not everything in America, particularly Middle America, has changed.


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