We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
John A. Williams based his newest novel, Clifford’s Blues, on his research into the lives of black Americans imprisoned in Dachau. The fictional journal of Clifford Pepperidge, a gay black jazz musician, resonates with the history of Nazi-era Germany. Early on, in 1933, Clifford writes, “Damn. I’d even go back South to get out of here. Any place but here,” with little sense of what the next 12 years might hold. A high-ranking, jazz-loving SS officer notices Clifford and saves him from the indignity of being marked with a pink triangle. Instead, he makes Clifford his calfactor: part manservant, part sex slave, part entertainer. Clifford’s privileged position allows him to witness what less fortunate men working in the camps must endure, but his physical security comes at a high emotional price. Williams reads from his book at 6 p.m. at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 429-9272. (Holly Bass)