The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington by Phenderson Djeli Clark – Short Story Review

The history of nine teeth that were put into George Washington’s dentures. A magic brought on by the consequences of each one, dark and enlightening, cursed and character-altering… Nine short vignettes detailing the path each tooth took to get to Mt. Vernon. Nine sketches of characters with considerable depth, from the colonies, Africa, the Caribbean, and beyond, with a spiritual trail of mermen, conjuring mages, and war songs.

This is the third piece I have read by Clark and I love his writing more with every word. The Secret Lives is a short piece (less than twenty pages), but one that carries a weight of historical, cultural, and racial asperity. I’m always blown away by Clark’s creative bend on history, the way he uses actual events as the foundation of his critical stories. I have read stories about infecting ghosts and other spirits, but the premise of this one was so unique, and, as usual, Clark follows through.

Highly recommended for those wanting to get an introduction to this author’s work or those looking to just read more of it. Definitely deserves the 2019 Nebula Award for best science fiction/fantasy short story!

Story can be read at Fireside Magazine here.

13 thoughts on “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington by Phenderson Djeli Clark – Short Story Review

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  1. I am such a fan of his stories. He has a way of bending the path of a story so that you have no idea where it is heading to next. If you haven’t read “The Black God’s Drums” I highly recommend. It is fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

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