They Come in All Colors

A Novel

They Come in All Colors

Malcolm Hansen arrives on the scene as a bold new literary voice with his stunning debut novel. Alternating between the Deep South and New York City during the 1960s and early '70s, They Come in All Colors follows a biracial teenage boy who finds his new life in the big city disrupted by childhood memories of the summer when racial tensions in his hometown reached a tipping point.

It's 1968 when fourteen-year-old Huey Fairchild begins high school at Claremont Prep, one of New York City’s most prestigious boys’ schools. His mother had uprooted her family from their small hometown of Akersburg, Georgia, a few years earlier, leaving behind Huey’s white father and the racial unrest that ran deeper than the Chattahoochee River.

But for our sharp-tongued protagonist, forgetting the past is easier said than done. At Claremont, where the only other nonwhite person is the janitor, Huey quickly realizes that racism can lurk beneath even the nicest school uniform. After a momentary slip of his temper, Huey finds himself on academic probation and facing legal charges. With his promising school career in limbo, he begins examining his current predicament at Claremont through the lens of his childhood memories of growing up in Akersburg during the Civil Rights Movement—and the chilling moments leading up to his and his mother's flight north.

With Huey’s head-shaking antics fueling this coming-of-age narrative, the story triumphs as a tender and honest exploration of race, identity, family, and homeland.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501172342 | 
  • May 2018
List Price £12.99 (price may vary by retailer)


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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for They Come in All Colors includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


The year was 1964. As Freedom Riders brought protests to the quiet farming town of Akersburg, Georgia, eight-year-old Huey Fairchild’s parents assured him of his identity. He was no different from his friends, who were white. Years later, as a student at New York City’s ritzy Claremont Prep, Huey finds that he can no longer deny the truth: he’s part black. As reality for Huey becomes inescapable, so does his anger. But can he heed his estranged father’s advice—That’s the wisdom of the river, Huey. It tells us to bend when there’s no other way—or will he allow his pride to get the better of him?

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Discuss the structure of the book. What’s the effect of alternating between fifteen-year-old Huey’s current life and that of his eight-year-old self? Did learning about Huey’s past help you better understand his current actions? Did your feelings change about Huey’s attack on Zukowski upon learning why he did it?

2. Did you f see more

About the Author

Malcolm Hansen
Photograph by Maja Bergman

Malcolm Hansen

Malcolm Hansen was born at the Florence Crittenton Home for unwed mothers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Adopted by two Civil Rights activists, he grew up in Morocco, Spain, Germany, and various parts of the United States. Malcolm left home as a teenager and, after two years of high school education, went to Stanford, earning a BA in philosophy. He worked for a few years in the software industry in California before setting off for what turned out to be a decade of living, working, and traveling throughout Central America, South America, and Europe. Malcolm returned to the US to complete an MFA in Fiction at Columbia University. He currently lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.