Finalist for the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
“In this suspenseful novel … Boyd gives a chilling portrait of the white terrorist network in the US during the time of Timothy McVeigh, convicted of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.” —BBC Culture
Blanche McCrary Boyd's first novel in twenty years continues the story of her protagonist Ellen Burns. When Tomb of the Unknown Racist opens in 1999, Ellen—now sober, haunted by her activist past and her failed relationships—is peacefully taking care of her demented mother in South Carolina.
Ellen's brother, Royce, was a celebrated novelist who, a decade earlier, saw his work adopted by racists and fell under the sway of white supremacy. Ellen thought him dead from a botched FBI raid on his compound. But when his estranged daughter turns up on the news claiming he might be responsible for kidnapping her two mixed-race children, Ellen travels to New Mexico to help her newfound niece. The book chronicles Ellen's search for Royce, her descent into the dark abyss of the simmering race war in the country, and the confrontation that occurs when she learns the truth about her family's past.
Tomb of the Unknown Racist is a thrilling novel set in the shadow of the Oklahoma City bombing, the subculture of white supremacy, and deep-state government. A family drama set against political and racial struggle, it is a tour de force end to a trilogy by a stunning writer whose work has offered a resonant survey of politics and activism across the American Experience.