January 31, 2023

Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas

Our neighbor Michael has published this fine book.


Man Gone Down is currently #1 in our Paperback Fiction category on BookCourt’s Bestseller list.

$14.00 - 20%

Evoking the work of great American masters such as Ralph Ellison, but distinctly original, Michael Thomas’ first novel is a beautifully written, insightful, and devastating account of a young black father of three in a biracial marriage trying to claim a piece of the American Dream. On the eve of the unnamed narrator’s thirty-fifth birthday, he finds himself broke, estranged from his white Boston Brahmin wife and three children, and living in the bedroom of a friend’s six-year-old child. With only four days before he’s due in to pick up his family, he must make some sense out of his life. Alternating between his past—as an inner city child bused to the suburbs in the 1970’s—and a present where he is trying mightily to keep his children in private schools, we learn of his mother’s abuses, his father’s abandonment, and the best and worst intentions of a supposedly integrated America. This is an extraordinary debut about what it feels like to be pre-programmed to fail in life—and the urge to escape that sentence.


“Battered by bitter memories, and paralyzed by the poison of prejudice, which is tainting his relationships with his loving wife and sons, he works carpentry jobs, goes for long late-night runs, and seeks to exorcise his demons. By evoking the tension, longing, and beauty of the great and grinding city, summoning the mysterious power of the sea, and drawing on Melville and Ellison, Thomas has written a rhapsodic and piercing post-9/11 lament over aggression, greed, and racism, and a ravishing blues for the soul’s unending loneliness.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“Ambitious…. The book is filled with some virtuoso passages that expose the subtle degrees of racism in the narrator’s world.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In the great, dark churn of race and wealth, of poverty and prejudices, of judgments and forgivenesses that is the city, the hero of Man Gone Down charts a four-day, Homeric trek through what makes America and New York a social and racial nightmare as well as a dream that incredibly can still come true. In this fast-paced, idea-rich novel, Michael Thomas grabs you by the mental collar with the rare voice that is simultaneously classic and modern, with a style that compels the reader to cheer this unwavering husband and father onward, Ishmael-like, into the light, into the open waters of the next day. It would be a mistake to live in a city anywhere in America and not wade into Thomas’ rich and rewarding depths.” —Robert Sullivan, author of Rats and Cross Country: 15 Years and 90, 000 Miles on the Road . . .

“A big, brave, heart-wrenching first novel, Michael Thomas tackles head-on the subjects of race, work and family. A tremendous debut.” —Alice Greenway, author of White Ghost Girls

“Once in a great while a voice comes along that staggers us with its vitality, strength and timeliness. Michael Thomas is one of those writers, and he’s been gifted with a dynamic voice as well as with a story worthy of our attention.” —David Haynes, Author of The Full Matilda

“Michael Thomas is a thoughtful, intelligent, ambitious writer and Man Gone Down is an impressive first effort. Literature—and the world—would be well served by more like him.” —Martha Southgate, author of Third Girl from the Left

“The narrator of this remarkable novel can name each star in the constellation of circumstances that describe the shape of his life as if observing them from a great distance, yet with a surprisingly intimate and passionate accuracy. Its unique achievement, that is, its particular beauty, is in how it engages us, right from the start, with the unannounced arrival of revelations, with humor, and with the growing realization that the life he speaks of has much in common with our own.” —Chuck Wachtel, author of The Gates

“What a novel, and what a writer. Michael Thomas is brilliant, and Man Gone Down is riveting. Every page vibrates with love and anger and hope.” —Elizabeth Gaffney, author of Metropolis

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