The protagonist of Coptic Cross, Bill Haywood, is a black man who embodies “friends, relatives, people in my neighborhood when I was growing up…trying to survive in a nation that has only wanted us as slaves or servants, but never as full citizens. Bill is aware of this and knows that his very presence, for many, is an affront to their whitewashed, Norman Rockwell vision of America that doesn’t include him. That’s a horrible thing, if you really think about it—to be born in a nation controlled by people who wouldn’t bat an eye if every black person in America suddenly disappeared.
“Bill has real anxiety about the future—fear. Like millions of people, he doesn’t have enough money to retire on, doesn’t own a house that is bought and paid for, and can’t rely on social security to pay the rent on his small apartment in San Francisco when he is too old or sick to work anymore. And there are powerful forces that want to strip him of Medicare and social security. What will he do? Will he have to beg on the street when he’s forced to retire? It can wear a man or woman down.
“His untied shoelace is a metaphor for all of this. His lace, that becomes loose at the most inopportune moments in the novel, is about insecurity, or to keep it real—a man who can’t quite get his shit together. His fear of the police, of going to prison on some trumped up charge puts him on edge, too. Yet, his search for justice and dignity (for an old friend) does two things in the book: puts him in great jeopardy, and saves him….”
Interview with the author by Tony Robles on 48 Hills:
Review by Ben Terrall in January Magazine: