Archive for the ‘African American Literature’ Category

Rebroadcast May 4: Attica Locke Discusses The Cutting Season

May 3, 2015 Leave a comment

Tune in Monday, May 4 at 8 a.m.CST/9a.m.EST for the rebroadcast of my 2013 interview with Attica Locke about her last novel, THE CUTTING SEASON. Coming Monday, May 11 at 8 a.m. I’ll be airing an interview with her about her new novel, PLEASANTVILLE. 


LA Residents Attica Locke & Steph Cha Bring Diversity to the Mystery Genre

April 30, 2015 Leave a comment

While Walter Mosley is a legendary mystery novelist that brought badly needed diversity to the genre with his iconic protagonist Easy Rawlins first introduced in the novel DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS in 1990, there are two rising stars in Los Angeles that have quickly won my admiration and fandom: African American writer Attica Locke and Korean American Steph Cha.   

Attica has published three mystery novels, all featuring black protagonists, BLACK WATER RISING in 2009, THE CUTTING SEASON in 2012, and PLEASANTVILLE in April 2015.  Cha published two mystery novels featuring Korean American sleuth Juniper Song, FOLLOW HER HOME in 2013 and BEWARE BEWARE in 2014.  Her third novel, DEAD SOON ENOUGH, will be published in August 2015 with Juniper Song back again.

Attica, a native of Houston, now may be better know for being a writer and producer for the hit series on Fox, Empire.  But in 2009 when I read her first novel, BLACK WATER RISING, set in Houston in 1981, I was blown away by her depiction of the post civil rights black student activism on college campus in the flashback scenes and the internal struggle of her protagonist, Jay Porter, to overcome his bitterness from his activism days and get involved in a case that could endanger his life. But I was also mesmerized by her depiction of the Black community and its struggles through the eyes of her protagonists.

 While Attica lives in Los Angeles, two of her three novels were set in Houston: BLACK WATER RISING (set in 1981) and PLEASANTVILLE (set in 1996), both which feature Jay Porter.  In both Jay Porter novels, she makes the reader feel the weight of his past and pain, but most importantly his courage to overcome them to pursue justice.

While Attica is a transplant to LA, Steph Cha was born and raised there and has set all her novels in present day Los Angeles. What’s enchanting about Cha’s novels is how she captures the kaleidscope of cultures in the neighborhoods and characters featured in her novels.  Whether its Koreatown or a Latino gang, I feel like I know the rich diversity of Los Angeles when reading Cha.  As for her protagonist Juniper who is in her late 20s, I feel the restlessness and emotional baggage she carries and her desire to jumpstart her life through sleuthing, Raymond Chandler style.  And I cannot forget another perspective Cha brings to the novel throug Juniper for me, the perspective of the millenials on life in America as they see it.  As a babyboomer with two daughters that are millenials, it is an eye opening experience.

So if you’re a mystery lover looking for diverse voices in literature, read Attica Locke and Steph Cha novels.  If you’re just looking for an entertaining mystery novel, read Attica Locke and Steph Cha novels.



PODCAST: Angela Flournoy, Author of THE TURNER HOUSE

April 27, 2015 Leave a comment

Angela Flournoy recently appeared on KAZI Book Review to discuss her novel, THE TURNER HOUSE. Set at the height of the mortgage crisis in a Black neighborhood in Detroit in 2008,  THE TURNER HOUSE focuses on the trials and tribulations of the oldest and youngest of 13 grown siblings, centered around resolving the financial challenges facing their mother:  Mom’s house is worth much less than the mortgage.  To listen to my interview with Angela click here:

New Mystery Grand Master Lois Duncan and Walter Mosley Interviews on KAZI Today

April 26, 2015 Leave a comment


Tune in at 12:30 p.m. CST/1:30 p.m. EST for my interview with Lois Duncan who was recently named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.  Duncan will be followed by a short interview with Walter Mosley discusding his 2013 mystery novel, ALL I DID WAS SHOOT MY MAN.  Enclosed is an excerpt from the Mystery Writers of America announcement of the 2015 Grand Masters.  IMG_0524-3

Lois Duncan and James Ellroy have been chosen as the 2015 Grand Masters by Mystery Writers of America (MWA). MWA’s Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Ms. Duncan and Mr. Ellroy will be presented with their awards at the Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When told of being named a Grand Master, Duncan said, “I’m stunned and overwhelmed by this incredible honor! To have my own name included on this illustrious list of my idols–Agatha ChristieIra LevinStephen KingTony Hillerman–is something I could never have imagined.”

Lois Duncan published her first short story in a national magazine when she was thirteen, and her first novel, Debutante Hill, at age eighteen. Early in her career, Duncan primarily focused on romance novels for teens and pictures books for children. In 1966, Duncan published two novels that revolutionized the world of young adult fiction: Point of Violence and Ransom. Prior to these two novels, most fiction aimed at young adults was filled with ‘lessons to be learned’ and two-dimensional lead characters. Duncan changed that, using the realistic viewpoint she had brought to her earlier romance novels, presenting her main characters with choices and decisions that had consequences, paving the way for many other young adult authors that followed. 

She never shied away from social issues in her work. Daughters of Eve tackled societal sexism; Killing Mr. Griffin the pressure placed on teens to perform and get into good colleges, and I Know What You Did Last Summer dealt with the Vietnam War and society’s reactions to it, plus the struggles of returning veterans. She was nominated several times for the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile, and her books have been made into films. Ms. Duncan was also a long time writing instructor at the University of New Mexico.

Early Morning Reading – Pleasantville by Attica Locke

April 21, 2015 Leave a comment

PLEASANTVILLE, the sequel to Attica Locke’s first novel, BLACK WATER RISING, features the return of attorney Jay Porter, now a widower with two children struggling to cope with the recent death of his wife.  Set in Houston, Texas in 1996, Porter becomes embroiled in a case involving politics, corruption and murder centered in the real life neighborhood of Pleasantville, one of Houston’s oldest black subdivisions.  For native black Houstonians, Pleasantville may be best known as the political base of the city’s elected black city council member, Judson Robinson, Jr. 


Novel Focused on Black Family in Detroit – THE TURNER HOUSE

April 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Tune in to KAZI 88.7FM Monday at 8am CST/9am EST for my interview with Angela Flournoy, author of the new novel, THE TURNER HOUSE.   THE TURNER HOUSE is a wonderful Black family saga set in Detroit primarily in 2008 with some flashback scenes featuring the parents.  While the thirteen Turner siblings have some major issues from the oldest being haunted by a haint and the youngest being addicted to gambling, the novel maintains a hopeful tone.

Angela Flournoy is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received a Dean’s Fellowship, and the University of Southern California. She has taught writing at the University of Iowa and Trinity Washington University, and has worked for the Washington, D.C. Public Library. She was raised in Southern California by a mother from Los Angeles and a father from Detroit.  


Photo by LaToya T. Duncan


Early Morning Reading – Asali Solomon and Philip Kerr 

April 14, 2015 Leave a comment


 I’m reading Asali Solomon, author of the new novel DISGRUNTLED and Philip Kerr, author of the new novel THE LADY FROM ZAGRED.

I’ll be interviewing Asali live on KAZI Book Review Sunday at 12:30pm on KAZI 88.7FM along with Tim Staley, executive director of the Austin Public Library Foundation. Asali will be one of the featured authors at the New Fiction Confab  Readings and Conversations event at the Austin Faulk Central Library on April 25, 2 pm. – 4:30 p.m.

I’m taping an interview with Philip Kerr Thursday morning which will be broadcast later this month.  Kerr, who lives in England, is currently on tour in the U.S.


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