We gave it a B
Set in the near future, The Last Integrationist portrays a racially polarized America where public hangings are televised live on pay-per-view, drug addicts are shipped off to military camps, and the U.S. attorney general is an embittered black politician who tells cheering throngs that ”what America needs is not more prisons, but more executions.” What’s more, Attorney General Melvin Hutchinson stands a good chance of being placed in line to become President. Alas, he has a great big dirty secret to hide — and it won’t take most readers more than a chapter or two to guess it. Just as Jake Lamar’s digressive, sometimes cliché-ridden style begins to let him down, something wonderful starts to happen: The novel’s minor characters stage an imaginative rebellion. What began as bitter satire turns into a warmly comic tale of the entangled lives and loves of a half-dozen well-meaning, albeit self-deluded, fools who can’t decide — racially speaking, that is—- whom it’s okay to love. Is it possible, Lamar asks, that there are ”no people left in the United States of America; only your own people. Only races, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultures”? Good question, complicated answer, and a fearless young talent to keep your eye on.