Rashad Harrison gets to the heart of noir

Courtesy photoRashad Harrison

The author of “Our Man in the Dark” — a novel about a civil rights worker who becomes an informant for the FBI, betraying the cause and the figure, Martin Luther King Jr., he set out to fight for — is having a book-release party today from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley.
 
What was the initial kernel of inspiration for your book? I came across a sentence about an informant within the movement in a biography of the era. I was 19 at the time and it stuck with me. I didn’t think anyone would have personal agendas to conflict with the greater struggle. There isn’t much on secret FBI informants explaining why they do this, so I had to use my imagination. My wife’s a psychologist and we did a backward psychological sketch as to why someone would do this.

Did you intentionally draw on noir or did it evolve with the plot? With noir, in my opinion, you have an underdog who grapples with an institutional force and then confronts disillusionment and disappointment. This is at the heart of a lot of noir storytelling and it fit stylistically. It echoed the black experience at the time, the disillusionment, the underdog, the desperation. The narrative seemed to fit into noir.

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