M A R C
A N T H O N Y
R I C H A R D S O N
M E S S I A H S
A fiercely ecstatic tale of betrayal and self-sacrifice
Messiahs centers on two nameless lovers, a woman of east Asian descent and a former state prisoner, a black man who volunteered incarceration on behalf of his falsely convicted nephew, yet was “exonerated” after more than two years on death row. In this dystopian America, one can assume a relative’s capital sentence as an act of holy reform—“the proxy initiative,” patterned after the Passion.
The lovers begin their affair by exchanging letters, and after his release, they withdraw to a remote cabin during a torrential winter, haunted by their respective past tragedies. Savagely ostracized by her family for years, the woman is asked by her mother to take the proxy initiative for her brother—creating a conflict she cannot bear to share with her lover. Comprised of ten poetic paragraphs, Messiahs’ rigorous style and sustained intensity equals agony and ecstasy.
Messiahs is a fever dream of storytelling. It explores racism and interracial conflict, the deadly prison industrial complex, climate emergency, social death, and more in prose that unfurls like waves of sound. Bleak, though not without hope, challenging, though with numerous rewards along the way, innovative from start to finish, Messiahs is a marvel.
National Book Award Winner and author of Annotations and Counternarratives
Praise & Reviews
In Messiahs, Marc Anthony Richardson gives us an innovative, intelligent, and insightful take on several American obsessions, including punishment, incarceration, and the death penalty. As much as this layered narrative presents a warning about things to come, it also offers a profound examination of rebirth, redemption, second acts. All in all an unnerving, uncanny, and challenging read on many levels, but well worth the effort.
Jeffery Renard Allen
Guggenheim Fellow and author of
Rails Under My Back and Song of the Shank
Marc Anthony Richardson’s novel has a nightmare impact, a gathering heartbreak . . . Messiahs often upsets expectation, using its imaginative premise as more than a platform for critiquing our broken justice system . . . typical of the entire unfolding tapestry, a marvel of close stitching, with glimmers you feel in your spine.
reviewer for The Brooklyn Rail and author of The Archeology of a Good Ragù and The Color Inside a Melon
Green Apple Books (online)
In conversation with Carolina De Robertis
San Francisco, CA
6 pm PST / 9 pm EST
August 25, 2021
Mills College Contemporary Writers Series (online)
5 pm PST / 8 pm EST
September 17, 2021
Fiction Collection Two (FC2) Reading Series (online)
with JoAnna Novak and Yannick Murphy
5 pm PST / 8 pm EST
September 23, 2021
Kelly Writers House (in-person)
University of Pennsylvania
Opening reading by Vi Khi Nao
6 pm EST
October 5, 2021
Bard College/Conjunctions (in-person)
Innovative Contemporary Fiction Reading Series
6:30 pm EST
October 18, 2021
Association of Writers & Writing Programs (in-person)
Philly X 5: Set to Prose
Pennsylvania Convention Center
10:35 am EST (US)
March 26, 2022
Marc Anthony Richardson
Marc Anthony Richardson, an artist and novelist from Philadelphia, is the author of Messiahs and Year of the Rat, winner of an American Book Award and a Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize. He was the recipient of a Creative Capital Award, a PEN America grant, a Sachs Program grant, a Hurston/Wright fellowship, a Vermont Studio Center residency, and a Rhodes University residency in South Africa. He teaches creative writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is researching his third novel, The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast.