In 2013, in a nationally televised contest, 14-year-old Citoyen "City" Coldson is asked to use the word "niggardly" in a sentence. He has a meltdown and storms off, and the video of his outburst goes viral. City is sent to stay with his grandmother in Melahatchie, Mississippi where a girl named Baize Shepard has recently disappeared. City is distracted by a strange novel written by an unknown author, titled Long Division and narrated by a boy named City Coldson living in Melahatchie in 1985. Laymon weaves together the two stories in a tragi-comic exploration of race, adolescence, Southern history, authorship, and technology spanning the years from the 1960s through the '80s to the present day.
Kiese Laymon was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He graduated from Oberlin College and earned an MFA from Indiana University. He is a contributing editor at Gawker.com and has written for numerous publications, including Esquire and ESPN.com. He is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Vassar College. His collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, will be published in August, 2013.