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Walter Mosley’s ‘Charcoal Joe’: Easy Rawlins is back

Charcoal Joe, by Walter Mosley (Doubleday)

By Neely Tucker
The Washington Post

Walter Mosley’s latest Easy Rawlins novel, “Charcoal Joe,” comes on the heels of the author winning the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America in April. No one familiar with the quality and quantity of Mosley’s creative output was surprised by this honor. His output encompasses more than four dozen books — including 14 Rawlins novels — science fiction, nonfiction and essays. He’s been awarded PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Still, in some ways, the full measure of his achievement can only be gauged by seeing him at the Edgars, as the Mystery Writers’ honors are known. I watched the whole thing from a table near the back. Mosley was one of fewer than two dozen African Americans in a ballroom holding hundreds. Publishing, like the film industry, was a pale field when Mosley’s first Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins novel, “Devil in a Blue Dress,” was published in 1990 and made into a Denzel Washington vehicle five years later. Two decades on, both still are. (Looking at you, #oscarssowhite.)
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Walter Mosley’s ‘post-black’ hero, returns

Astrid Stawiarz/GETTY IMAGES -  Novelist Walter Mosley attends the 25th annual Brooklyn tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.
Astrid Stawiarz/GETTY IMAGES – Novelist Walter Mosley attends the 25th annual Brooklyn tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.

By Kevin Nance, Published: January 20

As Bill Clinton pointed out just before being elected president in 1992, the crime novels of Walter Mosley are first and foremost crackling good stories, full of mystery, suspense and prose like good soul food: hearty, stick-to-your-ribs sentences with a spicy aftertaste. Their nutrient value is fortified — particularly in the case of the books featuring the African American sleuths Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins and Fearless Jones, both set in Los Angeles in the 1950s — by layers of insight into race relations in a time when a black detective’s life was never in so much danger as when he stepped into a bar full of white people.

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