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Book Review :: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton book cover image

Guest Post by Kevin Brown

Dawnie Walton’s debut novel is a book by the main character Sunny Curtis, the first African-American female editor of a mythical, music magazine. Sunny seeks to discover the details surrounding the death of her father, who was killed at the final concert of Opal and Nev, a fictional duo from the early 1970s. Everybody knows what happened to him, but nobody knows exactly how and why he died in a riot near the end of that performance. Making matters more complicated, Opal was having an affair with Sunny’s father. The book is a series of interviews with those surrounding the event, plus Sunny’s editor’s notes.

Walton uses this setup to raise questions about privilege surrounding race and gender. While Nev, a White British man, goes on to have a successful career after the event, Opal, a Black woman, never has a chance to do so. Others define Opal in ways that limit her, even while she tries to challenge a variety of establishments. Nev plays music that makes people comfortable, so he succeeds. Opal’s struggles are mirrored in Sunny’s work and the events that surround one final revival show for Opal and Nev, revealing that not much has changed in fifty years.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. 37 Ink, March 2022.

Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press).  He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. You can find out more about him and his work on Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or http://kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.