Faladé, David Wright: Black Cloud Rising

In Black Cloud Rising (Grove Press 2022), author and scholar David Wright Faladé tells the story of Richard Etheridge, who towards the end of the Civil War joined America’s first and only “African Brigade.” Later recognized as a state hero, Etheridge is a young man when he joins the brigade in late 1863. Led by the one-armed General Edward Augustus Wild and Captain Alonzo G. Draper, the mission is to flush out rebel guerrillas, “bushwackers,” who continue to fight in Union-won territory. Their other mission is to prove that freed slaves can be trusted as combat soldiers. Set mostly in the swampy barrier islands of northeastern North Carolina, Richard is the son of the master of the house and a black slave. As children, he played with his cousins Patrick (Paddy) and Sarah, until they learned that he was a slave, and they the masters. The Etheridge family sign loyalty to the Union, but Paddy joins the Confederate Partisan Rangers. As the African Brigade moves forward, their raids free those still being held as slaves, and Richard moves closer to reuniting with his childhood love, Fanny. This is a novel about identity, integrity, and the fight for human dignity.

David Wright Faladé is a Professor of English at the University of Illinois and the Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Raised in the Texas panhandle, he’s the recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award and has written for the New Yorker, the Village Voice, the Southern Review, Newsday, and more. Faladé is co-author (with Luc Bouchard) of the young adult novel Away Running and coauthor (with David Zoby) of the nonfiction book FIRE on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers (a New Yorker Notable Selection and the St Louis-Post Dispatch Best Book of 2021).