Deeply felt, beautifully written and profoundly humane; McBride’s ability to inhabit his characters’ foibled, all-too-human interiority helps transform a fine book into a great one.”
The New York Times Book Review 

“The prose radiates a kind of chain-reaction energy.”
The New Yorker 


In partnership with Apple, Oprah Winfrey has announced the latest selection for Oprah’s Book Club: Deacon King Kong (Riverhead Books) by James McBride

As book #85 of Oprah’s Book Club collection and the fifth selection in her partnership with Apple, “Deacon King Kong” is available now on Apple Books in both e-book and audiobook formats here

Deacon King Kong — McBride’s witty, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird — brings to vivid life a cast of characters living in south Brooklyn in September 1969. As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of these characters — caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York — overlap in unexpected ways.

Set in a sprawling housing project in ‘60s Brooklyn, the book starts with a bang when “Sportcoat,” a moonshine-loving church deacon, shoots a young drug dealer in broad daylight. Sportcoat doesn’t remember exactly what he’s done or why, but what unfolds is less a criminal investigation than a fast-moving and loopy story that seamlessly veers from murder master to bawdy slapstick comedy to heartfelt meditation on grief, love and community.

As everyone in the neighborhood reacts to the crime in their own unique fashion, we get to know a rich array of charming, complex characters with great nicknames like Hot Sausage, Sister Bum-Bum and the Elephant.

McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.

Bringing to these pages both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, McBride has written a novel every bit as involving as The Good Lord Bird and as emotionally honest as The Color of Water. Told with insight and wit, Deacon King Kong demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us.

Oprah’s Book Club connects a community of readers worldwide to stories that truly matter by today’s most thought-provoking authors. Readers can discover Oprah’s Book Club through the Apple Books app on iPhone and iPad (, where they can learn more about the latest selection and browse previous selections in a beautiful and immersive experience.


James McBride is an award-winning author, musician and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, published in 1996, has sold millions of copies and spent more than two years on The New York Times bestseller list. Considered an American classic, it is read in schools and universities across the United States. His debut novel, Miracle at St. Anna, was turned into a 2008 film by Oscar-winning writer and director Spike Lee, with a script written by McBride. His 2013 novel, The Good Lord Bird, about American abolitionist John Brown, won the National Book Award for Fiction and will be a Showtime limited series in fall 2020 starring Ethan Hawke.