Blueschild Baby takes place during the summer of —the summer of race riots all across the nation; the Summer of Love in the Haight Ashbury; the summer of Marines dying near Con Thien, across the world in Vietnam—but the novel illuminates the contours of a more private hell: the angry desperation of a heroin addict who returns to his home in Harlem after being in prison. First published in , this frankly autobiographical novel was a revelation, a stunning depiction of a marginal figure, marked literally and figuratively by his drug addiction and navigating a predatory underground of junkies and hustlers—and named George Cain, like his author. Now with a new preface by acclaimed writer Leslie Jamison, this is an unvarnished conjuring of the tyranny of dependence: its desperation, its degradation, its rage and rebellion; the fragile, unsettled, occasional shards of hope it permits; the strange joys of being alive and young and lost and hooked and full of feverish determination anyway. Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape.