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MWA Announces 2016 Grand Master, Raven & Ellery Queen Award Recipients

Author Walter Mosley has been chosen as the 2016 Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, and will receive the award at the 70th annual Edgar Awards Banquet in New York City on April 28, 2016. At the same time, two Raven Awards will be presented, to “mentor, teacher, scholar and editor” Margaret Kinsman and to Sisters in Crime, the group of women mystery writers initially convened by Sara Paretsky in 1986, and the Ellery Queen Award will be given to Janet A. Rudolph, director of Mystery Readers International, editor of the Mystery Readers Journal and teacher of mystery fiction.

(via MysteryWriters.org)

Walter Mosley reads from latest Leonid McGill novel, a complicated tale

And Sometimes I Wonder About YouWalter Mosley has been called “America’s Blackest Jewish Writer.” His father was black and mother Jewish and even though he self-identifies as black, he speaks often about his Jewish heritage.

So, it’s fitting he will be at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center to talk about his new crime novel featuring ex-boxer and P.I. Leonid McGill, as well as being Jewish and why he identifies with Isaac Bashevis Singer.

McGill, a short, black man who still works out at the gym, is leading a messy life in his fifth outing. He meets a beautiful woman who has stolen a valuable ring from a mobster and embarks on a torrid affair with her even though his wife is hospitalized after trying to commit suicide. Also, he’s in love with Aura, who manages his apartment building, but they’re taking a break and he misses her.

When McGill turns away a homeless man who wants him to track down a woman with a secret, and the man is later found dead, McGill takes on his case out of guilt for the way he treated the guy.

A third thread in this complicated plot — or plots — is the involvement of McGill’s son, Twill, with a dangerous, Fagan-like figure who is running hundreds of young people in various scams and killings.

McGill is an interesting mix of integrity when it comes to his cases but less morality when it comes to his love life — or maybe sex life would be a better word. But he’s likable and cares for Twill and his other adult kids.

“And Sometimes I Wonder About You” has a lot of moving parts and readers have to pay attention to the characters and what’s going on.


What: Walter Mosley reads from “And Sometimes I Wonder About You” in Twin Cities Jewish Book Series.

When, where: 7 p.m. Thursday, St. Paul Jewish Community Center, 1375 St. Paul Ave., St. Paul

Admission: $25

Information: 651-698-0751

Publisher, price: Doubleday, $26.95

(via Pioneer Press)

‘The Fall of Heaven’ at Trinity Episcopal Church’s Fellowship Hall in Bethlehem

William Alexander Jr. (left) plays Tempest Landry and Roy Shuler plays Joshua Angel in the Crowded Kitchen Players produciton of 'The Fall of Heaven' at Trinity Episcopal Church's Fellowship Hall in Bethlehem. The show opens Nov. 6. (EMILY PAINE / THE MORNING CALL)Crowded Kitchen Players’ production of Walter Mosley’s dark comedy “The Fall of Heaven,” which premieres in the Lehigh Valley Friday, will kick off the company’s series of plays designed to provide a forum on racial discrimination.

“The Fall of Heaven” is the first play in “Voices of Conscience: Toward Racial Understanding,” a joint effort by Crowded Kitchen, Selkie Theatre, Allentown Public Theatre, the Basement Poets and other arts organizations.

Crowded Kitchen’s production is only the second of the morality play written by the well-known mystery author. It will be presented in Trinity Episcopal Church’s fellowship hall, 44 E. Market St. Bethlehem.

“The Fall of Heaven,” written in 2011, was Mosley’s first play. Mosley has written more than 40 books, and wrote “The Fall of Heaven,” his first play in 2011, based on his 2008 book “Tempest Tales.”

In the story, based on Mosley’s 2008 book “Tempest Tales,” Tempest Landry (William Alexander Jr.) is a street-wise young black man living in Harlem, who is “accidentally” shot 17 times by police and finds himself at the pearly gates facing St. Peter (David “Oz” Oswald). When St. Peter tells him he is to go to hell, the quick-witted Tempest refuses to go and through a technical loophole is able to go back to earth, with a new identity and body. He also is accompanied by the accounting angel Joshua (Roy Shuler).

In life, Tempest was no angel, but he was far from evil. Joshua is out to prove goodness prevails and the resulting battle of wills takes an intriguing look at good versus evil and what it means to be human.

Mosley’s book was inspired by Jesse B. Semple, the memorable character created by Langston Hughes in his “Simple Stories.”

Director Ara Barlieb calls the play a “comedy of the human condition” and says it is very timely.

Mosley is the author of the acclaimed “Easy Rawlins” series of mysteries, the “Fearless Jones” series and the collection of short stories featuring “Socrates Fortlow,” “Always Outnumbered” and “Always Outgunned,” for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf Award.

The cast also features Erica Baxter and Felicia White. The play is being stage managed by Brian McDermott.

•”The Fall of Heaven” 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Nov. 13, 14; 3 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 15. Trinity Episcopal Church, 44. E. Market St., Bethlehem. Tickets: $18; $14, seniors; $10, students. Info: www.ckplayers.com, 610-395-7176.

(via @mcall.com)

Author Walter Mosley Grew Up In LA But His Writing Is Soaked In The South

Crime novelist Walter Mosley has family roots in New Orleans. In a conversation with Renee Montagne, he offers his reflections on life in Louisiana, before and after Hurricane Katrina.

(via NPR.org)

Walter Mosley: Watts Riots ‘Paved The Way For A Lot Of Change’

Author Walter Mosley in front of his childhood home in the LA neighborhood of Watts. He's standing with his father.

Author Walter Mosley in front of his childhood home in the LA neighborhood of Watts. He’s standing with his father.

In this season of anger in many black communities that are reacting to police brutality, we’re remembering the largest urban riot of the civil rights era.

Fifty years ago this week in Los Angeles, the African-American neighborhood of Watts exploded after a young black man was arrested for drunken driving. His mother scuffled with officers and was also arrested, all of which drew an increasingly hostile crowd.

Novelist Walter Mosley was a boy at the time, growing up in Watts. He says of that time, “It’s a hot summer day, you know, in 1965 … and people are fed up with the last 500 years of oppression, and so there was a riot. You couldn’t have predicted it. It was just people said, ‘OK, today, I’ve had enough.’ ”

He shared his memories of the riots on Morning Edition. These highlights include some of the on-air interview, and some excerpts that did not air.

Interview Highlights

Remembering the first night of riots

When I was a kid — I was 12 years old — I belonged to an organization called the Afro-American Traveling Actors Association, and we did civil rights plays. The main night of that riot, the apex of the riot, we went down to the little theater on Santa Barbara — now called Martin Luther King — to do our play. But nobody came, because people were rioting. Either they were rioting, or they were in their houses, hiding from rioting. And we had to drive out, and driving out, we drove through the riots. It was an amazing sight.

And when I got home, my father was sitting in a chair in the living room — which he never did — drinking vodka and just staring. And I said, “Dad, what’s wrong?” He says, “You know, Walter, I want to be out there. I want to be out there, rioting and shooting. But I know it’s wrong. I want to do it, but I can’t do it.” And he was just … it tore him up, the emotions it brought out in him.

On his father’s reaction

I don’t think there was a black man or woman in America who didn’t understand why it was happening. Most people didn’t riot, of course. … But everybody understood the anger and the rage, that the police could clamp down on you at any moment. It doesn’t matter if you’re innocent or guilty. What matters is, if you were a white guy over in Beverly Hills, they wouldn’t be clamping down on you like that; they wouldn’t respond to you like that.

It’s the same thing that happens today; it’s just that we have social media. So, you know, a woman gets killed in Texas, and we say, “Well, why was she arrested?”; “Why was she in jail?”; “How did she die?” These are questions only people in the black community asked a long time ago, because we knew it, but nobody else knew it, because nobody covered it. … And, I want to add, as much as black people understood it, the white community was completely ignorant of anything going on in the black community. And it was such a shock, it scared them for the next five years.

On whether the riots scared him personally

I was scared, you know, because, No. 1, it was an interracial group. So there were a couple of white people in the car, and they were like, on the floor. And then you would see things, you know, people jumping out of windows. They were looting. I saw one guy just lying out on the street. I don’t know what happened to him. The police were driving by, four deep in the car with their shotguns held up, but they weren’t shooting. They were just passing through. You could feel the rage. You could feel that civilization at that moment was in tatters. I was nervous, but I didn’t know enough to be really, really scared. Which was lucky for me.

On how the unrest affected the neighborhood

It hurt the community in some way. But, you know, when all the stores in your community are owned by white people, and you burn down those stores, even though you’re hurt in a way, you’ve made a statement. Those people paved the way for a lot of change in the rest of America. And so, whatever was lost, I believe a lot more was gained. Because it was just expressing that anger. You’d ask, “Well, how many black people feel like this?” And, well, 99 percent of them feel like this, and another 1 percent are really mad. That would be the answer.

(via NPR.org)

BLK Book List: Nothing Says Summer Like a Good Read

And Sometimes I Wonder About YouNothing says summer like curling up on the porch or the beach like a good read. There are plenty of new books by black authors, and great ones you might have missed. Just find yourself a cozy place, in the homestretch of summer to settle in and dip into the reading stash. What are you reading and loving this summer?

If you are a Walter Mosley fan, you know about Easy Rawlins. But this summer check out his Leonid McGill series. The newest book is And Sometimes I Wonder About You, but if you want to settle into a series you can’t put down, start at the beginning with the first book, The Long Fall.

(via NBCNews.com)

Patter and Patois

New York Times Sunday Book Review
Literary Landscapes

I am what you might call a grandchild of Louisiana. My father was born there as were many of his friends and relatives. Most of my neighbors in Los Angeles came from there too — black rural folk who had traveled west through southern Texas on their migration to escape the South’s heavy hail of racial hatred. They came to California for the tattered shelter of mocking freedom that the Golden State had to offer people like them, poor people willing to work hard.

My father and his family brought the Deep South with them — barbecues and gumbos, dirty rice and soul food. They brought their strong accents and multiplicity of tongues, their histories from Africa, France, Native America mingled with generous drams of so-called white blood, European blood.

Louisiana flowed in that blood and across those tongues. Louisiana — a state made famous by Walt Whitman and Tennessee Williams, Ernest Gaines and Arna Bontemps, Kate Chopin and Anne Rice. These writers, from many eras, races and genres, took the voices of the people and distilled them into the passionate, almost desperate, stories that opened readers to a new kind of suffering and exultation. Read the rest of this entry »

Buzzed Books #29: And Sometimes I Wonder About You

by John King

And Sometimes I Wonder About YouI am primarily a reader of literary fiction. It is where the joys and the fun of reading tend to be for me. Like many literary readers, I have a deep, complicated affection for hard-boiled detective fiction, à la Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The blunt brutality, bold psychology, and flourishes of purple style are compressed into a lovely textual cocktail by the form of the mystery, the plot that is itself a chase after a question mark. Characterization is both impressionistic and elusive—precisely as elusive as the mystery, usually.

One of the hallmarks of contemporary detective fiction is the shortness of chapters, which makes the form even more compressed. This would seem to deepen the challenge of the genre even more than classic hard-boiled detective fiction—or highlight the genre author’s flaws. Read the rest of this entry »

Walter Mosley comes to Liverpool in Transatlantic 175 week

Acclaimed American author is Writing on the Wall guest as part of One Magnificent City
Walter Mosley comes to Liverpool in Transatlantic 175 weekAmerican author Walter Mosley is making a rate UK appearance when he comes to Liverpool next week as part of the Writing on the Wall festival.

The 63-year-old is making a special trip from his home in New York to take part in ‘An Evening With’ event at Liverpool Town Hall as part of the American Dreams programme to celebrate Cunard’s 175th anniversary through the One Magnificent City programme. Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle Times: New crime fiction

By Adam Woog, Special to The Seattle Times

This month’s selection of crime fiction features two memorable private eyes and a square-jawed veteran of World War I.

Walter Mosley is renowned for his Easy Rawlins mysteries, but And Sometimes I Wonder About You (Doubleday, 288 pp., $26.95) falls into one of this prolific author’s other series — and it’s equally exhilarating.

Leonid McGill is a gumshoe with a past: The “post-black” P.I. grew up on New York City’s mean streets and is forever seeking to atone for past sins. He’s also got a remarkably messy personal life (many kids, mentally unstable wife, multiple affairs, politically radical father, etc.).

McGill, powerful but short, also has a strange mental tic: precisely describing the height of every man he meets. (Full disclosure: I am also height-challenged, but I like to think I’m not as preoccupied about it as McGill is.)

The book’s plot includes a gorgeous woman in danger, a Fagin-like mastermind with a network of child criminals, and a murdered homeless guy. Mosley doesn’t resolve these complex stories neatly, but then he’s never been as interested in plotting as he is in creating vivid characters and bracing, rat-a-tat prose — both of which are in abundance here.

(via Seattle Times)