by David Kerns
Fortnight on Maxwell Street is a reluctant hero’s journey of fear and courage set in Chicago in the spring of 1968. Twenty-four-year-old medical student Nick Weissman spends two weeks delivering babies in the kitchens and bedrooms of the inner-city’s slum tenements. Over his head medically, and unprotected in one of America’s most dangerous neighborhoods, his character and resourcefulness are tested in the extreme when a national tragedy intervenes.
The young white protagonist steps into his racial fear, testing his fledgling professionalism and his honor to care for a black family in grave danger. The embodiment of racial hatred, James Earl Ray, moves in parallel with Nick, stalking Martin Luther King, Jr., killing him and igniting the urban chaos that is the setting for the climax of the story.
WINNER OF THE ERIC HOFFER AWARD FOR THE BEST GENERAL FICTION BOOK OF 2018
The Hoffer Awards honor literary excellence from small and independent presses.
“A highly recommended historical tale that will make readers hope that the good doctor has more novels in him.”
—Kirkus (STARRED REVIEW)
“Set in the racially and politically tense late 1960s, this slow-boiling story is part true crime novel, part coming-of-age drama… The author uses history to effectively contextualize the foundations and practice of racism for an authentic sense of period. By tracing the migratory paths of blacks and Jews and the evolution of their Chicago neighborhoods, he explains the reality but makes no apologies for the resulting societal divisions. Likewise, Nick’s medical program and its service neighborhoods come to life via detailed description, giving depth and color that root the story in its uniquely fraught time and place … Recommended”
—The US Review of Books
“David Kerns’ Fortnight on Maxwell Street is a suspenseful medical odyssey that dances along a high wire of racial tension during a tragic and historic American moment.”
—James McManus, author of New York Times Bestseller Positively Fifth Street
“Kerns masterfully stitches his young and reluctant medical hero’s story together with the fascinating and dark journey of James Earl Ray as he stalks and murders Martin Luther King Jr. This realistic tapestry of life and racism in America in 1968 is profound and timely.”
—Robert M. Reece, M.D., author of To Tell the Truth.
“With craft and compassion, David Kerns has written a gripping story of one young medical student’s journey into America’s racial divide in 1968 Chicago.”
—Hillary Homzie, author of Queen of Likes and The Hot List.
“David Kerns’ thrilling and intelligent novel follows a medical student’s inner-city trial-by-fire in a time of national peril.”
—Sasha Paulsen, author of the forthcoming Dancing on the Spider’s Web
“This nuanced medical drama grabbed me from the start, sucked me into both the beloved and despicable characters, and dealt with racial demons head on. It’s a hero’s journey set against one of the most explosive two weeks in America’s history.”
—David Marshall, bestselling author of The Book of Myself, The Book of Us and What I Love About You.”
“A propulsive, harrowing, and moving read, from beginning to end. David Kerns delivers a nuanced portrayal of racism as a spectrum disease. We see how heroes and villains are made, how character is forged in the crucible of a historical moment. Fortnight on Maxwell Street rings absolutely, heart-stoppingly true. A book for our time.”
—Jessica Grant, author of Making Light of Tragedy and Come, Thou Tortoise