The Talking Drum


Winner of the Shelf Unbound magazine 2020 competition for Best Independently Published Book

Winner of the 2020 Outstanding Literary Award from the National Association of Black Journalists 

Winner, 2021 IPPY Gold Medal – Urban Fiction

Finalist, 2021 International Book Awards–Multicultural Fiction


Finalist, 2020 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards – General Fiction

“Themes of race, class and culture are skillfully woven throughout.” —Ms. Magazine 
“A book that is sensual, fraught, and above all, human.” —The Boston Globe
“This is a book that may cause the reader to see gentrification from a new vantage point.” —Historical Novel Society

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“At it’s heart, this is a novel about who you love and who becomes your home. A moving and skillful debut.”

Stephanie Powell Watts, author of No One is Coming to Save Us.

“With an insider’s eye for nuance, Lisa Braxton captures both the powerlessness and the resilience of communities threatened by urban development. At once tragic and hopeful, The Talking Drum is a heartfelt exploration of the deep roots of gentrification, brimming with vitality  and richly drawn characters.”

Wil Medearis, author of Restoration Heights.

Synopsis: It is 1971. The fictional city of Bellport, Massachusetts, is in decline with an urban redevelopment project on the horizon expected to transform this dying factory town into a thriving economic center. This planned transformation has a profound effect on the residents who live in Bellport as their own personal transformations take place.

Sydney Stallworth steps away from her fellowship and law studies at an elite university to support husband Malachi’s dream of opening a business in the heart of the black community of his hometown, Bellport.

For Omar Bassari, an immigrant from Senegal, Bellport is where he will establish his drumming career and the launching pad from which he will spread African culture across the world, while trying to hold onto his marriage.

Della Tolliver has built a fragile sanctuary in Bellport for herself, boyfriend Kwamé Rodriguez, and daughter Jasmine, a troubled child prone to nightmares and outbursts.

Tensions rise as the demolition date moves closer, plans for gentrification are laid out, and the pace of suspicious fires picks up. The residents find themselves at odds with a political system manipulating their lives and question the future of their relationships.

The Talking Drum explores intra-racial, class, and cross-cultural tensions, along with the meaning of community and belonging.


Contact: Lisa Braxton







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