Secret Life


The Secret Life of a Black Aspie: A Memoir

In 1954 a black boy is born on a former plantation in rural Virginia. He inhabits a magical inner world where sensory experiences blur together, time disappears, and memory is fluid. Nature offers both solace and adventure. Household objects possess agency and poetry. The spirits of slave children become his best friends. For the first four years of his life, he doesn’t speak. Then, slowly, he finds his voice.

Prahlad, seated

Delicately navigating a daunting assimilation into the outside world, he evolves into an artist and, eventually, an educator whose extraordinary intellectual, literary and musical gifts emerge through unspoken neurological challenges.

Anand Prahlad’s journey takes readers across the United States and through historic moments in American culture, from the Civil Rights Movement and school desegregation in the South, to hippie enclaves and New Age ashrams in the West, to a Midwestern college town struggling with the racial tensions of its border-state legacy. Along the way he sleeps on the beach, performs in a reggae band, writes poetry, follows a guru, teaches inner-city children, becomes a father, earns a doctorate, survives an earthquake and finds love.

This imagistic narrative reveals the mind of a deeply sensitive being whose perspective defies convention and whose experiences of autism, race and gender defy definition. Rooted in black folklore and cultural ambience, The Secret Life of a Black Aspie can at moments inspire and delight, evoke empathy, and deepen our understanding of the liminal realms and marginal spaces of human existence.

Praise for The Secret Life of a Black Aspie

 “This is a remarkable, important, brilliantly written book … the epic journey of a generation.”

Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

“Read it and weep tears of inferiority, knowing you will never write anything as beautiful and transcendent.”

Harvard Bookstore

“Readers won’t easily forget this prismatic and powerful story of an atypical life.”

Tony Miksanek, Booklist

“A life story that has never been told before. It is hard to put down and impossible to forget.”

-Georgina Kleege, author of Sight Unseen

“At once lovely, disorienting and musical — much like Prahlad’s experience of the world.”

-Aarik Danielsen, Columbia Daily Tribune

“A highly anticipated book worth waiting for!”

-Michael Gill, Disability Studies, Syracuse University