Following three generations of East New Yorkers; a debut, coming-of-age novel that mixes magical realism and the Southern Gothic—for readers of Jesmyn Ward and Jamel Brinkley.
Taking place over thirty years, We Are a Haunting follows a family of East New Yorkers struggling to maintain a connection to their history. Grandma Audrey, herself a living ancestor among the speaking dead, is about to lose her apartment; her indelible and vivacious daughter Key dies young after serving the Black women of her neighborhood, leaving behind a grieving son, Colly, who holds deep-seated disdain for a community to which he has no choice but to be accountable. Going back to the '80s, we see Key’s life consisting of nightclubs and enchantment. While training as a doula, she discovers that for her, the dead are much closer than expected and learns how to speak both to and for them, forming a connection between passed and living family members. After her death, Colly soon discovers that he shares the same sacred gift his mother had. His expulsion from school forces Colly across town, where he forges an understanding of how friendship, family, and community foster love in places where it may seem inherently and systemically impossible. After college, Colly returns to East New York to work with community organizers addressing structural neglect and the crumbling NYCHA blocks; to do what he can for the people that mean the most to him. With a singular combination of urban fiction, the supernatural, and social critique, Tyriek White depicts the palpable, breathing essence of outer borough New York City with lyricism and deep significance.