Since I Laid My Burden Down by Brontez Purnell, published by Cipher Press

Brontez Purnell - Since I Laid My Burden Down


  • £9.99

A riotous, hilarious, and heartbreaking cult novel about growing up black queer, and punk. 

When DeShawn hears news of his uncle's death, his riotous big-city life in San Francisco is abruptly put on hold while he travels back to his Alabama hometown for the funeral. 

While there, he's hit by flashbacks of growing up queer and black in the '80s South, of a youth filled with strong women, bewildered boys, and messed up queers. Wading through prickly reminders of his childhood, of sweltering Sundays, church, family, and the men he once knew, Deshawn reconnects with his old self and the ghosts of his past. 

A raw, dirty, hilarious, and heart-breaking novel about the experiences that shape us, Since I Laid My Burden Down asks the intimate question: who deserves love? 


"Performance artist Purnell beautifully captures a personality through introspection and memory in this slim novel. . . . a compelling portrait of a particular disaffected kind of gay youth caught between religion, culture, and desire" Publishers Weekly 

"This is a book you fall asleep reading and wake up excited to get back to. A Cult Masterpiece with so many memorable characters and phrases you'll want to grab strangers and read paragraphs to them" - Kathleen Hanna 

"Since I Laid My Burden Down is a fearless (sometimes reckless) humor as Brontez Purnell interrogates what it means to be black, male, queer; a son, an uncle, a lover; Southern, punk, and human. An emotional tightrope walk of a book and an important American story rarely, if ever, told" - Michelle Tea 


  • paperback 129 x 196 x 15 (mm)  |  162g  |  195 pages 
  • Edition published 2021 (first published 2017 by The Feminist Press) 


  • recommended readership:   18+  |  LGBTQIA+ fiction 


Brontez Purnell is a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist. The recipient of a 2018 Whiting Writers' Award for Fiction, he was named one of the 32 Black Male Writers of Our Time by The New York Times Magazine. Purnell has played in DIY punk bands since a teenager, including Social Lies, Panty Raid, Gravy Train!!!! and, currently The Younger Lovers. He is also the creator of the cult-zine Fag School, the co-founder of the experimental dance group The Brontez Purnell Dance Company, and the director of several short films. He lives in Oakland, California. 


also available: 
Brontez Purnell & Janelle Hessig - The Cruising Diaries   paperback 
Brontez Purnell & Elise R. Peterson - The Nightlife Of Jacuzzi Gaskett   hardback 
Brontez Purnell - 100 Boyfriends   paperback 


also available from Cipher Press: 
Sara Jaffe - Dryland   paperback 



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