Darius Stephens’ controversial novel, “just another ‘n’”
by Tim Walker
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” - Proverbs 23:7
Darius Stephens is more than just a writer. He’s a man on a mission, and he’s doing everything right.
The 45-year-old Dayton native has just published his first novel, “just another ‘n,’” and that novel is drawing high praise from some very heavy hitters indeed — Joe Morgan, as a matter of fact, the Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and legendary former second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds, has said “Author Darius Stephens has written a grand-slam book.” The book has also received positive reviews from two Academy Award winners: composer Bill Conti said “Darius Stephens brings great insight to the racial problems in America,” and famous B-movie director and writer Roger Corman added “Darius Stephens’ “just another ‘n’” was a great read! There is little question that it will be made into a motion picture.”
When he’s not busy writing novels, Darius devotes his time to groups working to end illiteracy and stop global human trafficking. He is director of the Midwest Group for Racial Reconciliation and is the founder of Jeremiah 29:11, a group dedicated to helping young people realize their full potential. He also serves as an advocate for disadvantaged adults and juveniles in the court system, interacting with both judges and local police departments.
Fresh from a lengthy interview about his book with Jordan Rich on WBZ-AM in Boston (a radio show that was heard all over New England) Darius took the time to speak with the Dayton City Paper recently.
“This is definitely a novel with something to say,” Darius said. “There’s a message here. I think most of my novels do have a message to share. I would say writing a fast-paced and pleasing book draws the reader in. But one of the cornerstones of everything I do is that there’s always a message in the book – without it being preachy.”
The novel, “just another ‘n,’” certainly has something to say. It is the story of David Williams, described on the book’s jacket as “a black man that does not like black people.” Williams is a powerful attorney in Columbus, Ohio who, at first glance, seems to have it all – a wildly successful practice, beautiful home and a beautiful wife – a white woman, which in this case seems indicative of the ambivalence Williams holds toward his own race.
Raised in an upper-class area, sent to all the best schools, surrounded by wealth and comfort, Williams had difficulty relating to his less affluent black relatives from the time he was a child. Later, after he becomes a success himself, Williams is sent to prison after being convicted of homicide at the hands of a corrupt prosecutor. Torn between two worlds – black and white, good and evil – he struggles to find his identity, connect with his culture and come to terms with his feelings about the word “nigger.”
Jolting, perhaps even a bit harsh at times, but with an honest desire to explore areas that are too often ignored, “just another ‘n’” is Darius Stephens’ attempt to bring to life, through fiction, a conflict and a divide which many members of our society deal with on a daily basis. By exploring the subjects of race and stereotypes, by shining a light on what the use of a single, brutal word can sometimes do to an individual, to a culture, and to a nation, Darius Stephens is aiming to do much more than merely entertain.
“We see this in our society frequently — what a word as divisive as this can do to people,” continued Darius. “There was the recent incident on “The View”, for example, where Sherri Shepherd and Barbara Walters had a conflict over the use of the phrase ‘Niggerhead Ranch.’ That’s what I want people to realize when they read the novel. This is about a black man, a man who is uncomfortable as a member of his own race, who shares many of the misconceptions so many people have about that race. And what happens to him when he is confronted, not only with who he is, but with who other people perceive him to be.”
A challenging and ultimately uplifting novel, “just another ‘n’” is well worth your time.
Darius Stephens has a website at www.dariusstephens.com, where you’ll find more information about his work, a link to his blog, and links to various online resources where you can purchase copies of his books. just another ‘n’ is available through Amazon.com as a paperback and as an e-book for the Kindle. You can also find it available in various formats at BarnesandNoble.com, at the Apple store and at Kobobooks.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com