Deacon King Kong Oprah’s Book Club Have you heard the buzz about “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride? If Oprah’s Book Club has chosen it, you know it’s a must-read. In this blog post, we’ll explore why this novel is captivating readers everywhere, especially fans of rich, multifaceted storytelling. Whether you’re a seasoned reader or someone looking for your next great book, “Deacon King Kong” offers a compelling look at community, struggle, and resilience.

What Is Deacon King Kong About?

James McBride weaves a fascinating tale set in 1969 Brooklyn. The story kicks off with an old deacon, Sportcoat, shooting a local drug dealer in the courtyard of a housing project. This single act sets off a chain reaction that affects the entire community. The book is a vibrant portrayal of the people living in the Cause Houses and how they cope with the ensuing chaos.

The Characters You’ll Love and Remember

Sportcoat the Deacon

Sportcoat, also known as Cuffy Jasper Lambkin, is the heart of this story. He’s a complex character dealing with loss and addiction. Despite his flaws, he becomes a surprising hero, embodying the resilience and spirit of the community.

The Residents of Cause Houses

The narrative explores the lives of various residents, each contributing unique perspectives. From Sister Gee, the church secretary, to Hettie, Sportcoat’s deceased wife whose voice seems to guide him, the characters are vividly detailed. Their interactions paint a rich tapestry of life in the housing projects.

The Impact of Elephante

Elephante, a local mobster, adds another layer to the story. His unexpected connection to Sportcoat reveals deeper ties within the community, mixing crime with moments of unexpected kindness.

Themes That Resonate

Community and Connection

One of the most striking aspects of “Deacon King Kong” is its focus on community. The residents of the Cause Houses are bound together by their shared experiences, struggles, and triumphs. This theme resonates deeply, showing the power of human connection in overcoming adversity.

Redemption and Forgiveness

Sportcoat’s journey reflects themes of redemption and forgiveness. His actions, driven by grief and confusion, lead to moments of profound self-discovery and reconciliation. These themes are universal, reminding readers that it’s never too late for change.

Humor Amidst Struggle

McBride’s use of humor adds levity to the story, balancing the heavier themes. The witty dialogues and humorous situations make the characters more relatable and the narrative more enjoyable.

Why Oprah Chose Deacon King Kong

Literary Merit

“Deacon King Kong” is a masterclass in storytelling. McBride’s ability to blend humor, pathos, and suspense in a cohesive narrative sets this book apart. His vivid descriptions and authentic dialogues bring the characters and setting to life.

Relevant Social Commentary

The book provides insightful commentary on race, class, and social dynamics. It reflects the complexities of American society, making it a timely and relevant read.

Emotional Depth

Oprah’s Book Club selections often feature emotionally gripping stories, and “Deacon King Kong” delivers. The emotional journeys of the characters touch on universal experiences, making it a poignant read.

How Deacon King Kong Reflects Modern Society

Issues of Race and Identity

The book’s exploration of racial tensions and identity is particularly relevant today. It sheds light on the systemic issues that continue to affect marginalized communities, encouraging readers to reflect on these important topics.

Economic Struggles

Set against the backdrop of economic hardship, the story highlights the struggles of working-class individuals. This theme resonates with many readers, reflecting ongoing economic challenges in modern society.

Resilience and Hope

Despite the turmoil, the characters’ resilience offers hope. “Deacon King Kong” shows that even in the face of adversity, communities can find strength and unity.

Engaging with the Story

Tasting Notes of Deacon King Kong

Just like a fine wine, this book has its own tasting notes. The richly developed characters and intricate plotlines offer a full-bodied reading experience. The humor and wit provide a delightful finish, leaving readers both satisfied and contemplative.

Deep Diving into Character Development

McBride’s characters are layered and multi-dimensional. Take time to reflect on their motivations and growth throughout the story. This deepens your understanding and appreciation of the narrative.

Connecting with the Setting

Brooklyn in 1969 is more than just a backdrop; it’s a character in itself. Immerse yourself in the historical and cultural context to gain a richer perspective on the story.

The Critical Acclaim and Awards

Awards and Recognitions

James McBride has received numerous accolades for “Deacon King Kong.” It has been praised for its literary excellence and impactful storytelling, solidifying its place as a modern classic.

Critical Reviews

Critics have lauded the book for its intricate narrative and memorable characters. Reviews highlight McBride’s skillful blending of humor and serious themes, making it a standout piece of literature.

Reader Testimonials

Readers across the globe have shared their profound experiences with the book. Their testimonials reflect the universal appeal and emotional impact of “Deacon King Kong.”

Discussion Points for Book Clubs

Key Themes

When discussing the book in a group setting, focus on its central themes. Explore how community, redemption, and humor interplay throughout the story.

Character Analysis

Analyze the characters’ development and their relationships. Consider how their backgrounds and experiences shape their actions and growth.

Social Commentary

Engage in discussions about the book’s social commentary. Reflect on how the issues presented in the story relate to current societal challenges.

Tips for New Readers

Start with an Open Mind

Approach “Deacon King Kong” with an open mind. The multi-layered narrative and rich character development offer a unique reading experience.

Take Notes

Jot down your thoughts and impressions as you read. This helps you engage more deeply with the story and enhances your overall experience.

Join a Reading Group

Consider joining a reading group or book club. Sharing insights and perspectives with others can enrich your understanding of the book.

Exploring Further Works by James McBride

Other Notable Books

If “Deacon King Kong” resonates with you, explore McBride’s other works. Books like “The Good Lord Bird” and “Miracle at St. Anna” offer equally compelling narratives.

Awards and Achievements

McBride’s literary contributions have earned him numerous awards, including the National Book Award. His work continues to influence and inspire readers worldwide.

Interviews and Articles

Dive into interviews and articles featuring James McBride. These resources provide valuable insights into his writing process and the themes that drive his work.


“Deacon King Kong” is more than just a book; it’s a remarkable exploration of community, resilience, and the human spirit. Its rich narrative and memorable characters make it a must-read for anyone seeking a profound literary experience. If you haven’t yet immersed yourself in this gripping tale, now is the perfect time. Join us in celebrating the power of storytelling—pick up a copy of “Deacon King Kong” today and become part of this extraordinary literary journey.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is “Deacon King Kong” about?

“Deacon King Kong” by James McBride is a novel set in Brooklyn during 1969, and it tells the story of a sudden and violent incident that brings together residents of a housing project and a local church. The book delves into themes of community, race, and the human experience, wrapped in a narrative that balances humor and pathos.

Who is the main character in “Deacon King Kong”?

The main character is Sportcoat, an elderly deacon who becomes central to the unfolding drama after he commits an unexpected act of violence. His complex personality and backstory are key elements of the narrative.

What themes does “Deacon King Kong” explore?

The novel explores several themes, including the sense of community, the impact of racism, economic challenges, and resilience in the face of adversity. It reflects on how these themes influence individual lives and communal bonds.

Why has “Deacon King Kong” received critical acclaim?

The book has received praise for its vivid character development, intricate plotting, and skillful blend of humor and serious social commentary. Critics appreciate McBride’s ability to create a narrative that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

How can I engage more deeply with “Deacon King Kong”?

To fully appreciate the book, consider joining a book club to discuss its themes and characters with others. Taking notes as you read and reflecting on the historical and cultural context of 1969 Brooklyn can also enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the story.

Are there other works by James McBride that are similar to “Deacon King Kong”?

Yes, James McBride has written other notable books, such as “The Good Lord Bird” and “Miracle at St. Anna,” which also explore complex themes and showcase his storytelling prowess. These works are worth exploring if you enjoyed “Deacon King Kong.”

Where can I find more information about James McBride?

For more insights into James McBride’s work and writing process, look for interviews and articles featuring him. These can provide a deeper understanding of his themes and the inspiration behind his novels.

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