A soldier and a poet walk into a bookstore…
Authors Chris Robinson and Gavin Kovite will read from their provocatively satirical and uncomfortably accurate novel, Deliver Us, at Elliot Bay Book Company this Friday. The controversial new social novel explores near-future Detroit – a decaying shell of a once-buzzing city revived by the presence of the monolithic tech giant, Amazon.
With undeniable energy and wit, Kovite and Robinson introduce us to a young, black social media activist who takes on Amazon, its new fleet of delivery drones and the city’s deepening racial inequalities.
Set in Detroit, a place Robinson calls “the most depressing and the most hopeful,” the authors highlight the odd amalgamation of abandoned skyscrapers and cobwebbed homes with the organic, urban farms of the city’s recent revitalization efforts. Kovite added that, at one point, Detroit was also the technological hub of the U.S. “It was like the Silicon Valley of the 30s to the 50s,” Kovite said.
“We’re interested in societal novels and Detroit is a lens that focuses a lot of the issues everyone’s talking about,” Robinson explained over a pint at Saint John’s Bar in Capitol Hill. “With the future rushing at us, the rate of technological change is on this exponential graph, and I’m really interested to see what’s going to happen.”
With Amazon’s plans to propagate its well-established mark on Seattle and the city’s counter-offensive with the just-passed head tax, the questions Robinson and Kovite ask in their novel are as relevant to Seattleites as ever. The role mega conglomerates play in the country’s growing social inequality is a theme that is frequently touched on in the book. Another is the impact globalization and gentrification have on a city, especially one that already has a strong and unforgiving culture of its own.
“Seeing the systemic issues in Detroit is very different compared to Seattle, looking at how technology is going to change our lives,” Robinson said. “I mean it’s already failed Detroit. You know, that was the city of automobiles, it was built for cars and now its streets are empty.”
Robinson and Kovite will be joined by Amanda Knox, a writer-turned-activist who was wrongfully accused of murder, and Jack Ballard, a local comedian. Knox’s experience with controversy and opposing narratives will offer a framework for the Q&A period, and Ballard will open the show with some much-needed jokes.
The novel is the second produced by Robinson and Kovite, whose polar backgrounds lend a unique and refreshing writing style. Robinson, an MFA graduate and poet, is complimented by Kovite, an infantry platoon leader turned army lawyer turned high school teacher.
Amazon? Drones? Racial inequality? Detroit? What more could a reader ask for.
The book launch will be at Elliot Bay Book Company, Friday May 25 at 7 p.m.