“David Santos Donaldson’s Greenland is profoundly entertaining and full of emotion, humor, pain, and wisdom. His narrator dances in a hall of mirrors but he doesn’t dance alone—he is joined by his husband, his best female friend Concha, E. M. Forster, Forster’s Black Egyptian boyfriend, and others both earthly and unearthly. Rather like The Golden Notebook for a new age with race and sexuality replacing gender and class, this is the work of a brilliant, inventive, sensuous dreamer.”—Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters and Lives of the Circus Animals
A dazzling, debut novel-within-a-novel in the vein of The Prophets and Memorial, about a young author writing about the secret love affair between E.M. Forster and Mohammed el Adl—in which Mohammed’s story collides with his own, blending fact and fiction.
In 1919, Mohammed el Adl, the young Egyptian lover of British author E. M. Forster, spent six months in a jail cell. A century later, Kip Starling has locked himself in his Brooklyn basement study with a pistol and twenty-one gallons of Poland Spring to write Mohammed’s story.
Kip has only three weeks until his publisher’s deadline to immerse himself in the mind of Mohammed who, like Kip, is Black, queer, an Other. The similarities don’t end there. Both of their lives have been deeply affected by their confrontations with Whiteness, homophobia, their upper crust education, and their white romantic partners. As Kip immerses himself in his writing, Mohammed’s story – and then Mohammed himself – begins to speak to him, and his life becomes a Proustian portal into Kip’s own memories and psyche. Greenland seamlessly conjures two distinct yet overlapping worlds where the past mirrors the present, and the artist’s journey transforms into a quest for truth that offers a world of possibility.
Electric and unforgettable, David Santos Donaldson’s tour de force excavates the dream of white assimilation, the foibles of interracial relationships, and not only the legacy of a literary giant, but literature itself.
Where to Order Greenland
About David Santos Donaldson
Author photo by Billy Bustamante
David Santos Donaldson was raised in Nassau, Bahamas, and has lived in India, Spain, and the United States. He attended Wesleyan University and the Drama Division of the Juilliard School, and his plays have been commissioned by the Public Theater. He was a finalist for the Urban Stages Emerging Playwright Award and his writing has appeared in various magazines including Poets & Writers, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, and The Rumpus. He divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and Seville, Spain.
Donaldson’s debut novel, Greenland, is shortlisted for the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
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Praise for Greenland
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR
“This is a book with respect for neither the margins of the page nor those that confine us in the real world. Donaldson sustains a plot that ends with ecstasy, action and reconciliation, satisfyingly concluding a novel of ideas that is also about one queer Black man finding his true north.”
—Bethanne Patrick Los Angeles Times
INDIES INTRODUCE PICKS GREENLAND IN TOP 10 DEBUTS SUMMER/FALL 2022
“If you’ve ever been saved by a story or nudged back to life by a narrative, this book is for you! Beautifully written and discerningly plotted. Lovers of Baldwin (and everyone else, honestly) won’t be able to put it down.”
—Max Ruthless, Foggy Pine Books, Boone, NC
“Perceptive and personal, this compelling novel eloquently clarifies ongoing issues of race and racism while authentically telling a unique story. Highly Recommended. ”
— Library Journal (starred review)
“It’s easily my favorite book of the year, and one of the most innovative and moving novels I’ve ever read.”
— Laura Sackton, Book Riot
“As the barriers between past and present get increasingly blurry, David Santos Donaldson’s writing becomes more and more powerful and hypnotic. I couldn’t put this book down, because it’s one of the most engaging and thought provoking novels I’ve read this year.”
— Buzzfeed, David Vogel
“Donaldson explores the themes of race, class and sexuality in a powerful debut.”
“Donaldson’s debut novel … is a delicious and delirious work of metafiction.”
—Michelle Hart, Electric Literature
“As it weaves in meditations on colonialism, spirituality, and the erotic, Santos Donadlson’s supremely stylish fever dream of a novel may delve most deeply into a specific subset of the queer experience, but the bigger questions it poses about how we come to terms with our own social and cultural identities make it feel surprisingly universal.”
—Liam Hess, Vogue
“…eloquent, totally absorbing . . .Greenland is another fine contribution to a growing canon of Black queer fiction.”
—John M. Clum, NY Journal of Books
“Greenland” is a refreshing novel from an author who makes unconventional artistic choices to serve his ends.
—Dexter Palmer, New York Times Book Review
“Irreverent and poignant …”
“[A] dazzling debut novel . . . Donaldson keeps us hooked from the start with snappy prose and tense but humane storytelling.”
—Patrick Rapa, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A metafictional feat and catnip for Anglophiles, this electric debut novel [is] . . sensuous and sly.”
“Besides being a talented fiction writer, Donaldson is a psychotherapist, and his debut novel is psychologically acute in its portrayal of a queer Black man crumbling under the weight of personal, historical, and racial trauma.”
“An intimate, compelling look at race and racism”
—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
“History, voice and creativity burst off the page in this debut that examines identity and society through the ages,”
—Katherine Ouellette, WBUR’s ARTery
“[An] assured debut … The multiple story lines intrigue, and the writing—“the thick air clung to my skin… like a jilted lover”—is crisp . . . The author clearly has talent, and his work’s many fine points suggest he’s one to keep an eye on.”
“A sly meditation on the audacious possibility of salvation by narrative.”
— Alice Randall, author of Black Bottom Saints and The Wind Done Gone.
“David Santos Donaldson’s debut novel Greenland is profoundly entertaining and full of emotion, humor, pain, and wisdom. This is the work of a brilliant, inventive, sensuous dreamer.”
— Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters and Lives of the Circus Animals
“Dazzling…Greenland examines the difficulties of creating loving relationships between the colonizer and the colonized, especially when they are of the same gender and of different races. Like a new century’s James Baldwin, David Santos Donaldson writes insightfully about why raging against prejudice and injustice is a necessary act before the atrocities of history can begin to heal.”
— Jaime Manrique, author of Like This Afternoon Forever, and Cervantes Street
“Greenland depicts a panorama that will make you think of both Robert Altman and Tony Kushner—you will be happier, richer, aroused.”
—James Grissom, author of Follies of God