Spotlight: Right By My Side

Right By My Side by David Haynes

Pub. date:  Jan. 31, 2023 – Penguin Classics Trade PB

Content courtesy of the publisher


Move over, Holden Caulfield, and meet Marshall Field Finney, in the 30th anniversary edition of Right by My Side, by a celebrated chronicler of Black middle class life in the American Midwest

A Penguin Classic

With wit and realism, David Haynes presents a different kind of Holden Caulfield in fifteen-year-old Marshall Field Finney, an ordinary, sullen teenager who discovers storytelling as a way to ease his adolescent anger and family tensions. Living with his parents in “Washington Park,” a housing development outside St. Louis, Missouri in the 1980s, his high-strung mother walks out on him and his father, a flawed yet strong man who manages the local landfill. Marshall’s two best friends, one Black and one white, are his only allies, as they navigate school and family life together. Through these relationships, Haynes poses Marshall’s universal questions about his place in his community and what’s next in his life. Ultimately, Marshall’s story proves that people take care of each other, families take care of others, and a boy finds his own resilience to become a young man. (publisher)

About the author:

David Haynes is a novelist and professor emeritus of English at Southern Methodist University. He is board chair and co-founder of Kimbilio Center for Fiction, a national organization for fiction writers of the African Diaspora.

By David Haynes; Foreword by Jamel Brinkley

Penguin Classics

Trade Paperback

On Sale: January 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780143137559


208 pgs

Praise for Right By My Side

“[Haynes] belongs to the old realist tradition that believes that everyday life, if truly rendered, is more than exciting enough.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Enjoyable reading–witty insight–Haynes has created a likeable, heroic character.”Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Marvelous–[Haynes] has created one of the most vivid and idiosyncratic first-person narrators I’ve run up against in recent years.  You trust Marshall’s voice, and you trust Haynes’ gifts.  He’s a prose writer of the first order.”Hungry Mind Review

“In Right By My Side David Haynes crafts a story that is both humorous and heartbreaking. It is a moving coming-of-age and a complex portrait of an entire community all at once. Marshall Field Finney is the kind of charismatic, world-wary young narrator whose voice leaps off the page and grabs hold of your heart. How thrilling for a new generation of readers to get to know him.” —Angela Flournoy

“A charming debut–a funny and cynical coming-of-age novel.” Kirkus Reviews

“Haynes offers engaging characters who tackle fundamental issues such as love, family and benevolence.” —Publishers Weekly