One Kind Favor: A Novel by Kevin McIlvoy
“In One Kind Favor, Kevin McIlvoy crafts a novel we haven’t seen before: a rare book about race and place that offers a nuanced take on the world we live in. The concerns are universal, including what it means to witness trauma in our increasingly divided world. The music is uncompromising—you are drawn into the strikingly beautiful, taut, and relentless prose. The novel’s s hugeness of heart and fierceness will keep you reading. This book feels vital for our times.”
—Nina McConigley, author of Cowboys and East Indians, Winner of the PEN Open Book Award
“Cord, the spirit-haunted North Carolinan town of One Kind Favor, is down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass, somewhere over the rainbow after the cyclone-lifted house touches down in that other land. It is uncomfortably situated in our ‘tikilit bloody present.’ I describe Cord as ‘spirit-haunted,’ but is any place in America not haunted by ancestral misdeeds? Squint into the mirror McIlvoy provides, but don’t dare look at the grotesqueries and pretend you’re looking into a funhouse mirror. This is what we really look like.”
—Rion Amilcar Scott, author of The World Doesn’t Require You
“The shapeshifting beast that is racism haunts small town North Carolina as the living and the dead collide with the past and the present in this novel of boundless surprise, wit, and wisdom."
—T. Geronimo Johnson, author of Welcome to Braggsville
Based loosely on a tragic real-life incident in 2014, One Kind Favor explores the consequences of the lynching of a young black man in rural North Carolina. After the lynching of Lincoln Lennox is discovered and subsequently covered up in the small fictional community of Cord, North Carolina, the ghosts who frequent the all-in-one bar and consignment shop take on the responsibility of unearthing the truth and acting as the memory for the town that longs to forget and continues to hate. A reimagined Kathy Acker, the groundbreaking literary icon, engages Lincoln in a love triangle and brings a transgressive post-punk esthetic to the mission. The down-the-rabbit-hole satirical storytelling of One Kind Favor, Kevin McIlvoy’s sixth novel, echoes Appalachian ghost stories in which haunting presences will, at last, have their way.
Kevin McIlvoy has published five novels, A Waltz (Lynx House Press), The Fifth Station (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; paperback, Collier/Macmillan), Little Peg (Atheneum/Macmillan; paperback, Harper Perennial), Hyssop (TriQuarterly Books; paperback, Avon), At the Gate of All Wonder (Tupelo Press); and two short story collections, The Complete History of New Mexico (Graywolf Press), and 57 Octaves Below Middle C (Four Way Books). His fiction has appeared in Harper’s, Southern Review, Ploughshares, Missouri Review, and other literary magazines. He taught in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program in Creative Writing 1987 to 2019 and as a Regents Professor of Creative Writing in the New Mexico State University MFA Program from 1981 to 2008.