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    Driving the King: A Novel

    By: Ravi Howard

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    Told through the experiences of Nat King Cole and his driver, Nat Weary, a daring and brilliant new novel that explores race and class in 1950s America. It's 1945, and Nat King Cole is performing a rare concert in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama. Though Nat Cole is already a star, Jim Crow still runs the South, and it's in a storage closet in the back of the theater where the singer greets his childhood friend Nat Weary and his girlfriend Mattie. Cole and Weary secretly plan Weary's proposal to Mattie-the singer will dedicate the first song to the couple and the spotlight will shine on Mattie as Weary proposes. But as Cole steps up to the microphone that night, a white man disguised as an usher rushes the stage with a lead pipe and attacks the singer. Nat Weary leaps from the "colored" balcony seats and defends the singer, violently beating back the attacker. Weary is, of course, arrested, and sentenced to ten years in jail without parole. Six months before his release from prison in 1955, Weary's brother visits the prisoner with a message from Cole. Will Weary agree to be Nat King Cole's driver in Los Angeles, to act as a bodyguard for the singer in his new home? DRIVING THE KING is the story of Nat Weary, a World War II veteran and taxi driver from Montgomery, who saved the life of a childhood friend-a world-famous singer-and is repaid with the chance to start a new life in Los Angeles. But it's also the story of Nat King Cole, who, despite his undeniable talent and fame, faces the deep-rooted racism of 1950s America. When Weary arrives in LA, it's a far cry from Jim Crow South, but it's a place not wholly hospitable to a group of black men, no matter that Nat King Cole is in the process of developing a groundbreaking show for NBC. DRIVING THE KING illustrates the obstacles Cole faces in LA and in show business, despite growing record sales and popularity. A brilliant and daring novel, Ravi Howard's DRIVING THE KING is a powerful look at race and class in 1950s told through the hopeful eyes of Nat Weary and his world-famous employer, Nat King Cole. Howard masterfully captures an era in our history that is both dark and shameful and full of promise.

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