The Hawk and the Sun

A Novel by Byron Herbert Reece
Foreword by Hugh Ruppersburg


"Reece . . . has written a clean-cut, stark, and sensitive novel. It is a dramatic poet's novel, laid down in squares and blocks of light and color and lightlessness. . . . classic in form and machinelike in its work. . . . It is a cold and savage poem, a masked dumb show of human ignorance and violence."
New York Times

Set in the small-town, pre-civil rights South, The Hawk and the Sun is the story of one day in the life of Dandelion, a physically impaired man who is the sole black resident in the town of Tilden.

Years before, the birth of a mixed-race child to a white prostitute had precipitated an outpouring of hatred against Tilden's black citizens, all of whom but Dandelion had been driven from town. In this atmosphere of smoldering self-righteousness, Dandelion survives on handouts and what little he can earn from odd jobs. Finally, the town turns against him as well.

Seen hurrying from the house of the neurotic Miss Ella as her screams fill the air of an August morning, Dandelion is apprehended and falsely accused of rape. Before the day's end, he is tortured and lynched. In his rendering of Dandelion, of those who murdered him, of those who looked the other way, and of the lone white man who stood futilely against the mob, Byron Herbert Reece brings his readers face to face with the horrifying spectacle of collective fear and racism.

Page count: 200 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8

Read more about Byron Herbert Reece at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


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Byron Herbert Reece was a lifelong resident of the north Georgia mountains. An author whose work is closely tied to the spirit and traditions of Appalachia, he wrote two novels: The Hawk and the Sun and Better a Dinner of Herbs (both Georgia). In addition, Reece was the author of four highly acclaimed volumes of poetry.