The Motion of Light in Water

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What to expect

Born in New York City’s black ghetto Harlem at the start of World War II, Samuel R. Delany married white poet Marilyn Hacker right out of high school. The interracial couple moved into the city’s new bohemian quarter, the Lower East Side, in summer 1961.

Through the decade’s opening years, new art, new sexual practices, new music, and new political awareness burgeoned among the crowded streets and cheap railroad apartments. Beautifully, vividly, insightfully, Delany calls up this era of exploration and adventure as he details his development as a black gay writer in an open marriage, with tertiary walk-ons by Bob Dylan, Stokely Carmichael, W. H. Auden, and James Baldwin, and a panoply of brilliantly drawn secondary characters.

Critics Review

  • “Absolutely central to any consideration of black manhood…Delany’s vision of the necessity for total social and political transformation is revolutionary.”

    Hazel Carby, author of Reconstructing Womanhood
  • “The prose of The Motion of Light in Water often has the shimmering beauty of the title itself…This book is invaluable gay history.”

    Inches Magazine
  • “A very moving, intensely fascinating literary autobiography from an extraordinary writer. Thoroughly admirable candor and luminous stylistic precision; the artist as a young man and a memorable picture of an age.”

    William Gibson, critically acclaimed author

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