The Scent of Burnt Flowers
by Blitz Bazawule
Publication Date: Jun 28, 2022
List Price: $27.00
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Imprint: Ballantine Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
Fleeing persecution in 1960s America, a Black couple seeks asylum in Ghana, but fresh dangers and old secrets threaten their newfound freedom in this hypnotic debut novel.
“A colorful, delicious ride through the senses and beyond; a tale of danger, love, and all the small, true things that will not be named.”—Yrsa Daley-Ward, PEN Ackerley Prize winning author of The Terrible
When the windshield of his Chevy Impala shatters in a dark diner parking lot in Alabama, Melvin moves without thinking. A split-second reaction marrows in his bones from the days of war, but this time it is the safety of his fiancé, Bernadette, at stake. Impulse keeps them alive, and yet they flee with blood on their hands. What is life like now that they are fugitives? Pack passports. Empty bank accounts. Set their old life on fire. The couple disguise themselves as a pastor and a reluctant pastor’s wife who’s hiding a secret from her fiancé. With a persistent FBI agent on their trail, they travel to Ghana to seek the help of Melvin’s old college friend who happens to be the country’s embattled president, Kwame Nkrumah.The couple’s chance encounter with Ghana’s most beloved highlife musician, Kwesi Kwayson, who’s on his way to perform for the president, sparks a journey full of suspense, lust, magic, and danger as Nkrumah’s regime crumbles around them. What was meant to be a fresh start quickly spirals into chaos, threatening both their relationship and their lives. Kwesi and Bernadette’s undeniable attraction and otherworldly bond cascades during their three-day trek, and so does Melvin’s intense jealousy. All three must confront one another and their secrets, setting off a series of cataclysmic events.
Steeped in the history and mythology of postcolonial West Africa at the intersection of the civil rights movement in America, this gripping and ambitious debut merges political intrigue, magical encounters, and forbidden romance in an epic collision of morality and power.