Since I Laid My Burden Down

Since I Laid My Burden Down


Brontez Purnell
An uninhibited exploration of growing up gay in 1980s Alabama.

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Paperback Edition
Publication Date: 06-13-2017

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DeShawn lives a high, creative, and promiscuous life in San Francisco. But when he’s called back to his cramped Alabama hometown for his uncle’s funeral, he’s hit by flashbacks of handsome, doomed neighbors and sweltering Sunday services. Amidst prickly reminders of his childhood, DeShawn ponders family, church, and the men in his life, prompting the question: Who deserves love?

A raw, funny, and uninhibited stumble down memory lane, Brontez Purnell’s debut novel explores how one man’s early sexual and artistic escapades grow into a life.

Winner of a 2018 Whiting Award

"More layered insight than the page count should allow." —MTV News

"A rich tapestry of intense character study." Art in America magazine

"One of the most unflinching and bone-true things you’ll read all year." Fiction Advocate

"An antidote to the rigamarole of gay lit." Mask magazine

"A complex. . .look at one man’s experience of being black, queer, smart, soft, tough, artistic, and constantly in motion between rural and urban cultures." —Kirkus Reviews

"Performance artist Purnell beautifully captures a personality through introspection and memory in this slim novel. . . . a compelling portrait of a particular disaffected kind of gay youth caught between religion, culture, and desire." —Publishers Weekly

 “It’s a true novel, chaptered, and bound, that not only holds its own as queer literature, with its unapologetically misanthropic narrative, but also expands upon it.” —San Francisco Chronicle

"Slim yet potently realized, with a lot to ponder." —The Bay Area Reporter

"An artist of many talents, from writing to dance, Purnell shows in his debut novel a strong control of language coupled with a willingness to take risks." —Rain Taxi

"Told like a punk rock Capote, this story of returning home has personality for days."—BKLYN BookMatch: Our 50 Favorite Books from 2017

“This is the book you fall asleep reading and wake up excited to get back to. A Cult Masterpiece with so many memorable characters and phrases you’ll want to grab strangers and read paragraphs to them.” —Kathleen Hanna

“I have always admired Brontez Purnell’s writing, and this novel is his greatest achievement yet. Purnell is never careful, never evasive. He hits you with honesty, passion, painful humor and never stops.” —Mike Albo, author of Hornitio

“Brontez Purnell is foul-mouthed and evil. Be warned: this book will make you cackle out loud like you've got the Devil inside you then it will break your heart. Be careful where you read it. BUT DO READ IT.” —Justin Vivian Bond

Since I Laid My Burden Down is a dance between grit and eloquence. With epic detail and crude truth, Brontez Purnell reminds us that the lessons of survival and love are learned through life's most fucked-up circumstances. Building bridges between tradition, ancestry, Southern punk, blackness and queerness, Brontez has written a story that helps us laugh, grieve, and breathe." —Cristy C. Road, author of Spit and Passion

Since I Laid My Burden Down has a fearless (sometimes reckless) humor as Brontez Purnell interrogates what it means to be black, male, queer; a son, an uncle, a lover; Southern, punk, and human. An emotional tightrope walk of a book and an important American story rarely, if ever, told.” —Michelle Tea, author of Black Wave

Interested in reading this book with a group? Download group discussion questions here!