Self-determination, a basic and historically elusive human right, is the core of Donna Drew Sawyer’s epic debut novel, PROVENANCE (Creative Cache; October 2015). Set in the early 20th century, against the strict racist traditions of the Deep South and the freedom and vibrancy of Paris on the verge of World War II, PROVENANCE, is the story of a family willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure they determine their own destiny.
Hank Whitaker longed for more than society said he could have. When a fateful incident forces him to use his racially ambiguous looks to escape certain death; Hank assumes the identity of the same people that revile him. When tragedy strikes Hank confesses to his wife and 18-year-old son, Lance, that he is really a black man passing as white. The revelation launches the family on an epic journey as Lance tries to figure out which life to live; continue passing as his father did, or shatter the façade and become the Negro he never imagined he was.
Like many African Americans, more than 200,000 before World War I, Lance flees the U.S. to find racial freedom in the liberté, égalité, fraternité of France between the World Wars. Among the wealthy expats in Europe, he finds love and a passion for art but knows that one misstep could unravel the life he has so carefully constructed. With the art world as its backdrop, PROVENANCE intertwines real people and places with fictional characters to paint a vivid picture of African Americans who defied tradition to escape racial barriers. Though each character’s path is unique, as racial pioneers they shared the same quest—the right to live undefined by race.
PROVENANCE is about the determination to dictate one’s destiny—despite their provenance. The experiences and insights of the book’s characters are as timely today as ever; because race still has the power to divide or unite, cannot predict success or failure and, continues to be powerless in the face of love and passion. PROVENANCE is perfect book club fiction, a page-turner that will have readers questioning assumptions about race, family and destiny long after the book’s final page.
See the full Provenance Press Release