Empire of Light by Gregory Earls
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Jason Tisse is in over his head. As a young black cinematography student at LA’s notoriously tough American Film Institute, he’s got the vision, but not the balls to battle the ruthlessness that is Hollywood. After a failed year at AFI, which includes nearly electrocuting a fellow classmate, Jason embarks on a trip to Europe to hunt down the works of his favorite painter. Armed with an enchanted camera gifted to him by an eccentric film professor, Jason is prepared to master the art of light and shadow as depicted in the infamous baroque artwork of the original Emperor of Light known to the rest of the world as Caravaggio.
What Jason doesn’t expect, however, is that the innocent-looking Kodak Brownie camera he’s been given holds remarkable powers, capable of miraculously bringing his idol’s artwork alive with each snapshot. Caravaggio’s work, packed full of sex, religion, violence and some outrageous hilarity, explodes to life and sends Jason spiraling from one escapade to the next. Spanning the bright lights of Paris, the grand churches of Rome and the cutthroat alleys of Naples, Jason must overcome his inhibitions—even at the risk of life and limb—if he is to one day rule his own Empire of Light.