The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast
- Marc Anthony Richardson
- Department of English, School of Arts & Sciences
- Independent Creative Production Grant
In The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast, seven Black assassins are assigned to reciprocate violence inflicted on the Black community by taking the life of a white person, according to the day of the week that it happened. The speculative novel takes place during a day of rioting—in parallel to a slave revolt—after the white rapists and murderers of a Black girl are released from jail without charges, and the Black assassins seek retaliation. When Monday receives his assignment to kill the only white girl in his inner-city chess program, he realizes he is platonically in love with her—possibly from a past life—and decides to save her. This experimental novel focuses on the personal impact of the stringent regulation and rampant persecution of African Americans by white Americans and the government—in the modern North and in the antebellum South—and how this treatment has been largely perpetuated, creating, at times, civil unrest: slave revolts, protests, riots. Otherwise upstanding citizens, due to the constant pressure of systemic racism, can be led to make unwise and even, in extremis, grossly amoral decisions. This book is not an attempt to justify them, but to place the angst of these citizens in historical context.
Marc Anthony Richardson is an artist and novelist from Philadelphia, who specializes in dense, visceral prose that circles on itself and leaps from present to past, using language that is, at times, phantasmagoric. Year of the Rat, his debut novel, won the Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize, and an American Book Award. Richardson was also the recipient of a PEN America grant, a Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright fellowship, and a Vermont Studio Center residency. Messiahs, his second novel, is due for release in August 2021. He is currently researching and writing for his next novel, The Serpent Will Eat Whatever is in the Belly of the Beast, for which he has also received a 2021 Creative Capital Award.