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My Government Means to Kill Me

A Novel

Rasheed Newson

Flatiron Books

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opens in a new window My Government Means to Kill Me Download image

ISBN10: 125083354X
ISBN13: 9781250833549

Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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Earl "Trey" Singleton III arrives in New York City with only a few dollars in his pocket. Born into a wealthy Black Indianapolis family, at 17, he is ready to leave his overbearing parents and their expectations behind.

In the city, Trey meets up with a cast of characters that changes his life forever. He volunteers at a renegade home hospice for AIDS patients, and after being put to the test by gay rights activists, becomes a member of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Along the way Trey attempts to navigate past traumas and searches for ways to maintain familial relationships—all while seeking the meaning of life amid so much death.

Vibrant, humorous, and fraught with entanglements, Rasheed Newson’s My Government Means to Kill Me is an exhilarating, fast-paced coming-of-age story that lends itself to a larger discussion about what it means for a young gay Black man in the mid-1980s to come to terms with his role in the midst of a political and social reckoning.


Praise for My Government Means to Kill Me

“In this debut novel, a queer young Black man leaves behind his comfortable family life in Indianapolis and heads to New York in the 1980s, which provides a thrilling, occasionally enraging, political and societal backdrop for his coming-of-age.”The New York Times

"An episodic narrative about learning to navigate the world, this novel is both hilarious and angry."The Boston Globe

"This book should charm its way onto lots of best books of the year lists."The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A fast-moving and riveting examination of what it means to build a life in the middle of a deadly epidemic.”Arlington Magazine

My Government Means to Kill Me is not only a brilliant historical novel of those times, it is a bold statement of how someone who could have been an outcast doesn't settle for being left out.”—Daily Kos

"This book is a truly unique queer coming-of-age novel."Buzzfeed

"A powerful story about Trey, a young, gay, Black man in 1980s New York City as he comes of age personally and politically. Newson’s writing is crisp and clear, witty and engrossing—the kind of prose that pulls you in so quickly you’ll miss your subway stop."CrimeReads

“Newson’s attention to historical details gives this moving novel a sense of urgency and immediacy.”Book Riot

"Newson . . . lends his cinematic eye to his novel, which makes the grit, the sex, the activism and the political struggle all the more atmospheric and immersive. In short, I’ve never been prouder of an 18-year-old narrator who leads us through the New York City streets, and compels not just his friends and network to action, but the reader too."—Al Woodworth, Amazon Editor

My Government Means to Kill Me is an action-packed, entertaining inside look at the life of a young political rebel. Written with unflinching tenderness, Newson gives us an honest and compelling portrait of a gay Black man coming of age.”—Matthew A. Cherry, Academy Award-winning director of Hair Love

“Hilarious, heartbreaking, and sexy as all get out.”—Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Treasure

“Fresh, vibrant and utterly unapologetic. Rasheed Newson has written an unforgettable, take-no-prisoners novel alive with humor and full of urgency. Newson’s Trey and his determination to live life on his own terms, even in the face of death all around him, brings into three dimension an era of New York Queer life that, too often, has been flattened and whitewashed by history.”—Xochitl Gonzalez, author of The New York Times bestseller Olga Dies Dreaming

“Delightful and fast-paced, a fascinating narrative of queer activism during the AIDS epidemic.”Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

Lesson #1


It is true that before moving to New York City in May of 1985, I turned my back on a six-figure trust fund. I was seventeen, and I wanted to be able to lay sole claim to my successes and failures....