Author Archive

Interviews Focus on Middle Passage & Manchild in the Promised Land 

July 26, 2015 Leave a comment

2015 marks the anniversary of two significant books by African Americans: the 25th anniversary of the publication of MIDDLE PASSAGE by Charles Johnson and 50th anniversary of the publication of MANCHILD IN THE PROMISED LAND by Claude Brown.  Both books will be featured on KAZI Book Review’s July 27 edition at 8 a.m. CST on KAZI 88.7FM.  Charles Johnson won the National Book Award for Fiction for MIDDLE PASSAGE, only the second African American to win the award for fiction at that time.

In the first segment of KBR, I discuss the origins of MIDDLE PASSAGE with its author Charles Johnson. The novel’s protagonist is Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave and irrepressible rogue, desperate to escape unscrupulous bill collectors and an impending marriage to a priggish schoolteacher. He jumps aboard the first boat leaving New Orleans, the Republic, a slave ship en route to collect members of a legendary African tribe, the Allmuseri. Thus begins a daring voyage of horror and self-discovery.

Charles Johnson, a 1998 MacArthur fellow, is the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Endowed Professor of English at the University of Washington in Seattle. His fiction includes Dr. King’s Refrigerator, Dreamer, and Middle Passage, for which he won the National Book Award. In 2002 he received the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

MANCHILD IN THE PROMISED LAND is a semi-autobiographical novel widely regarded as one of the most realistic and poignant portrayals of everyday life for the first generations of African Americans who grew up in northern cities during the 1940s and 1950s. In it, Claude Brown chronicles his coming of age in Harlem with both fondness and sadness, lamenting the many in his neighborhood, including his younger brother, who fell victim to the persistent violence, poverty and alcohol and drug addiction that plagued the community. Claude Brown died in 2002. KAZI Book Review contributors Evelyn Anderson and Peggy Terry will join me to discuss the significance of the book.

Novels: Murder  Mystery Set in D.C. and Historical Novel Set in Brazil

July 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Neely Tucker, author of MURDER, D.C. and Victoria Shorr, author of BACKLANDS, are the July 26 guests on KAZI Book Review at 12:30 p.m. CST/1:30 p.m. EST on KAZI 88.7FM.

MURDER, D.C. is the second murder mystery novel featuring the Washington D.C. News reporter Sully Carter.  As described on Neely Tucker’s web site: When Billy Ellison, the son of Washington, D.C.’s most influential African-American family, is found dead in the Potomac near a violent drug haven, veteran metro reporter Sully Carter knows it’s time to start asking some serious questions—no matter what the consequences
Neely Tucker writes non-fiction by day at the The Washington Post, where he has been a staff writer for fifteen years, and is currently assigned to cover the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign.

Though written as a novel, BACKLANDS tells the true story of a group of nomadic outlaws who reigned over the northeastern Brazil from about 1922 until 1938. Taking from the rich, admired―and feared―by the poor, they were led by the famously charismatic bandit Lampiao. The gang maintained their influence by fighting off all the police and soldiers the region could muster.  The story is primarily narrated by Lampiao’s lover, Maria, and has a Bonnie and Clyde vibe to it.

Victoria Shorr is a writer and political activist who lived in Brazil for ten years. Currently she lives in Los Angeles, where she cofounded the Archer School for Girls, and is now working to found a college-prep school for girls on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.


Author Calls for Economic Bill of Rights

July 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Tune in to KAZI 88.7FM Monday, July 20 at 8 a.m. CST/9 a.m. EST for my interview with Scott J. Myers-Lipton, author of ENDING EXTREME INEQUALITY: An Economic Bill of Rights to Eliminate Poverty

In the book Myers-Lipton argues that poverty and economic inequality are at record levels. He writes that forty-seven million Americans live in poverty, while middle class incomes are in decline. His call for an Economic Bill of Rights is in line with ideas proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Myers-Lipton proclaims that all Americans have the right to a job, a living wage, a decent home, adequate medical care, a good education, and adequate protection from economic fears of unemployment, sickness, and old age.

Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton is a Professor of Sociology at San José State University, and is also the author REBUILD AMERICA: Solving the Economic Crisis through Civic Works (Paradigm 2009) and Social Solutions to Poverty: America’s Struggle to Build a Just Society (Paradigm 2006), as well as numerous scholarly articles on civic engagement, education, and racism.


Interview With New York Times Bestselling Author Ace Atkins

July 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Tune in to KAZI Book Review Sunday, July 19 at 12:30 p.m. CST/1:30 p.m. EST for my interview with Ace Atkins, author of the new novels THE REDEEMER and ROBERT B. PARKER’S KICKBACK.

THE REDEEMER is Atkins’s fifth crime fiction novel featuring Quinn Colson, a former Army Ranger now serving as the Tibbeha County, Mississippi sheriff.   At the beginning of the novel we learn that Colson, who is only in his early thirties, will soon be jobless—voted out of office as sheriff, thanks to the machinations of county kingpin Johnny Stagg. He has offers, in bigger and better places, but before he goes, he’s got one more job to do—bring down Stagg’s criminal operations for good.

ROBERT B. PARKER’S KICKBACK is Atkins fourth novel featuring Boston P.I. Spenser, and the 44th in the series started by the late Robert B. Parker in 1973.    In KICKBACK, Spenser investigates why seventeen-year-old Dillon Yates was sent to a lockdown juvenile facility in Boston Harbor for setting up a prank Twitter account for his vice principal.  This is Blackburn, Massachusetts, where zero tolerance for minors is a way of life.

Leading the movement is tough-as-nails Judge Joe Scali, who gives speeches about getting tough on today’s wild youth. But Dillon’s mother, who knows other Blackburn kids who are doing hard time for minor infractions, isn’t buying Scali’s line. She hires Spenser to find the truth behind the draconian sentencing.

Ace Atkins, a former journalist, is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 novels.



PODCAST: Jewell Parker Rhodes Bayou Magic Interview

July 12, 2015 Leave a comment

If you missed the interview with Jewell Parker Rhodes about her book BAYOU MAGIC and would like to listen to it now, here is an unedited version that’s a couple of minutes longer and includes Maya Hay’s exciting intro to start the interview:

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PODCAST: Full Version of Joe Lansdale Interview About Paradise Sky and Nat Love

July 12, 2015 Leave a comment

If you missed the interview with Joe Lansdale on KAZI 88.7FM or want to hear the 25 minute version, here it is:

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 Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms

July 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Tune in to KAZI 88.7FM at 8 a.m. CST Monday, July 13 for my interview with H. Richard Milner, author of RAC(E)ING TO CLASS: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms.  Like Laurence Fishburne in Spike Lee’s movie School Daze, Milner is ringing the bell to get the attention of educators, from teachers to principals to superintendents, to reform policies and procedures to insure children of poverty and color get the best opportunitity to succeed.

As stated on its web site by Harvard Education Press, the publisher of the book, “Milner provides educators with a crucial understanding of how to teach students of color who live in poverty. Milner looks carefully at the circumstances of these students lives and describes how those circumstances profoundly affect their experiences within schools and classrooms. In a series of detailed chapters, Milner proposes effective practices–at the district and school levels, and in individual classrooms–for school leaders and teachers who are committed to creating the best educational opportunities for these students.”

H. Richard Milner IV is the Helen Faison professor of urban education at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of “Start Where You Are, but Don’t Stay There: Understanding Diversity, Opportunity Gaps and Teaching in Today’s Classrooms,” and the forthcoming “Rac(e)ing to Class: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms.”


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