“David Nicholson is such a gifted, assured storyteller that I read Flying Home in a single sitting, pulled from one beautifully written, wise, and moving story to the next, so enchanted by the lives he explores in the ‘secret city,’ and by his skill, that I was unaware of the passage of time. This is superbly crafted, memorable writing that will leave readers hungering for more.”
National Book Award-winning author of Middle Passage
The stories in Flying Home: Seven Stories of the Secret City, are set in an imagined Washington neighborhood much like Bloomingdale, the one I grew up in. While each story has different foreground characters, many of the stories share the same background characters.
Most of the people in these stories are ordinary working men and women—maids, taxi drivers, janitors, barbers, and handymen. The second story, “Among the Righteous,” was the first I wrote on returning to Washington after a six-year sojourn in the Midwest. I'd been away long enough to be stunned at how much the city had changed and I wanted, I think, to write about people and lives that were being swept away.
As Harper Lee put it about her hometown: “I believe there is something universal in this little world, something decent to be said for it, and something to lament in its passing.”
The phrase “the secret city” comes from W.E.B. Du Bois’s 1932 Crisis article, “The Secret City: An Impression of Colored Washington.” Much has changed since Du Bois wrote but, in many ways, black Washington remains a secret city, invisible to the whites who also inhabit it.