St. Martin's Press 2010
If a mother raises her biologically male child as a daughter instead of a son, what would be the effects on the family, the community, the church? Indeed what would be the psychosocial, psychoemotional effects on the daughter once she discovers she’s a “he”? And what would all this reveal about the mother? What’s more, would the male-daughter’s brothers, father, friends come to agree with gender philosopher Judith Butler and accept the prevailing academic wisdom that gender and sex are social constructions, discourses that inform how we perform our lives? Or would they agree with some conservative Christian groups that a boy is a son. That’s how God made him, and that’s that! End of story. And what if the male-daughter is African American? What would race reveal about the social dynamics of gender in America?
Novelist Daniel Black deftly explores the above questions and so much more in his lyrical new novel Perfect Peace (St. Martin’s Press, 2010). Not to give too much away, but Perfect is the name of the male-daughter; Peace is her family name. For seven years, she’s a girl. At age eight, she is told she’s a boy. What ensues disturbs the Peace family and the black Southern community where they live. Yet Perfect learns lessons that Daniel Black believes America as a whole must learn to face.
There is never a dull moment in this intense interview. The discussion with Daniel Black is just as engaging as his fascinating novel.