Milwaukee Blues: A Novel

Milwaukee Blues by Louis-Philippe Dalembert, Translated by Marjolijn de JagerMilwaukee Blues: A Novel
By Louis-Phillippe Dalembert
Translated by Marjolijn de Jager
Published by Schaffner Press May 2, 2023

The deaths of unarmed Black male citizens at the hands of police, from Eric Garner’s in New York City in 2014 to George Floyd’s in Minneapolis in May 2020, provide the impetus behind Louis-Philippe Dalembert’s latest novel, a re-imagining of events leading up to and after these tragedies.

In this moving tribute set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the composite, fictionalized main character Emmett and victim of police violence is seen through the eyes of several individuals who were all touched by his life: the Pakistani shopkeeper who dialed 911; Emmett’s former girlfriend; a teacher; a neighborhood friend, and his college football coach all recall Emmett and describe how his love and generous spirit touched their lives.

The novel then takes a wider point of view in the second half to focus on the march and memorial service with a resounding and spiritual message of peace. This is a powerful testament to the ongoing struggles for justice, and a moving and hopeful tribute to the many victims of racist violence.


“Dalembert is a world-class poet and chronicler, not only of the African diaspora but of the radical uprootedness of people everywhere. His work is the work of witness, infused with love and admiration for the millions of sufferers who endure the violent disruptions of our time with dignity and perseverance and a love for one another that is equal to his own.”
“The death of unarmed black men across the country at the hands of law enforcement forms the heart of this beautiful and heartbreaking novel. Drawing from news headlines and stories, this book is a fictional 360-degree look at the step-by-step events leading up to a tragedy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Emmett (named for Emmett Till) is a victim of police brutality. Told from the perspective of the shopkeeper who dials 911, the victim’s former girlfriend, his teacher, football coach and a friend, this is a moving look at the ongoing struggles of racism, and the inexplicable pain connected to being a Black man in America.”

“…the poignant portrait not just of one Black man destroyed by racist violence but of an entire community struggling with its burdens…this eloquently translated work will engender conversation and engage readers of both literary and popular fiction.”

“Echoing the murders of Eric Garner and George Floyd, this heartfelt, fluidly told work portrays one young Black man and his fatal encounter with the police. Distinctively, the story of gentle, charismatic Emmett, who has a talent for football, is unfolded through perceptive accounts from the people around him.”