Podcasts: Celebration of Diverse Literary Voices of Texas

Listen to podcasts of interviews with multicultural authors as KAZI Book Review Celebrates Diverse Literary Voices of Texas.

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Thanks to our sponsors Austin Revitalization Authority, Austin Spurs, Jeffrey Travillion, Austin Public Library, and HEB for their support.

R.A. Kwamena Alheem, The Family Tree Grows Up

The Family Tree Grows Up was written to inspire, enlighten, enrich, and inform Africa’s estranged children. It’s more of a conversation than a sermon or lecture. It’s a sankofa approach, meaning looking back to our cultural past in order to create and implement solutions that are natural to our spirits and allows us to be a productive community.

R.A. Kwamena Alheem, an Austin musical artist, grew up in the Carverdale neighborhood in Houston.

To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with R.A. Kwamena Alheem click the play button below: 

Anthony and Keffrelyn Brown, Black Intellectual Thought in Education

Anthony and Keffrelyn Brown are co-authors, with Carl Grant, of BLACK INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT IN EDUCATION. Keffrelyn D. Brown (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies in Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds the Elizabeth Glenadine Gibb Teaching Fellow in Education and has appointments in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, the Warfield Center for African and African American Studies and the Center for Women and Gender Studies. Her recent book, published in 2016 by Teachers College Press is After the “AT-RISK LABEL”: Reorienting Educational Policy and Practice. She has received the AERA Division K Early Career Research Award and the Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award, the highest honor given for excellent undergraduate teaching across the University of Texas System.

Anthony Brown is Associate Professor of Curriculum & Instruction in Social Studies Education. He also is an affiliated faculty in the areas of cultural studies in education, the John Warfield Center of African and African American studies and the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. He received his B.A and M.A. in political science from California State University-Long Beach and received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is coauthor of RECLAIMING THE MULTICULTURAL ROOTS OF THE U.S. CURRICULUM: Communities of Color and Official Knowledge in Education.  Professor Brown is the recipient of numerous awards, including: Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award and the AERA Division B, 2016 Outstanding Book Award.

To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Anthony and Keffrelyn Brown click the play button below: 

Nicky Drayden, The Prey of Gods

The Prey of Gods is a near future thriller set in South Africa in which a diverse set of characters imbued with supernatural abilities by a street drug called Godsend must band together against a disenfranchised goddess who intends to remake their world and change the fate of humanity forever.

Nicky Drayden is a Systems Analyst who dabbles in prose when she’s not buried in code. She resides in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. Her debut novel THE PREY OF GODS is forthcoming from Harper Voyager this summer, and is set in a futuristic South Africa brimming with demigods, robots, and hallucinogenic hijinks. See more of her work at http://www.nickydrayden.com or catch her on twitter @nickydrayden.


To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Nicky Drayden click the play button below: 

John Moran Gonzalez, Border Renaissance and The Cambridge History or Latina(o) American Literature

BORDER RENAISSANCE: The Texas Centennial and the Emergence of Mexican American Literature

Border Renaissance is a watershed revision in the history of Mexican American literature and culture, revealing the crucial role played by the Texas Centennial of 1936 in crystallizing a new, politicized ethnic identity.



The Cambridge History of Latina/o American Literature emphasizes the importance of understanding Latina/o literature not simply as a US ethnic phenomenon but more broadly as an important element of a trans-American literary imagination. Engaging with the dynamics of migration, linguistic and cultural translation, and the uneven distribution of resources across the Americas that characterize Latina/o literature, the essays in this History provide a critical overview of key texts, authors, themes, and contexts as discussed by leading scholars in the field. This book demonstrates the relevance of Latina/o literature for a world defined by the migration of people, commodities, and cultural expressions.

From the border town of Brownsville, Texas, John Morán González attended Princeton University, graduating magna cum laude with an A.B. in English literature. He earned an M.A. degree and a Ph.D. in American literature from Stanford University. He is currently a Professor in the English Department at The University of Texas at Austin. He is also Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies. His major research interest is Latino/a literature, especially Mexican American literature before 1960.


To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with John Moran Gonzalez click the play button below: 

Jacob Grovey, Dance of the Unbroken

Although he is not even 40 yet, Jacob Grovey has published three books and is founder of Global Genius Society, a global community of artists and art lovers.  His 2016 novel, DANCE OF THE BROKEN, tells the inspirational story of a young black girl who dreams of being a ballerina, despite society’s opinion that she’s cut from the wrong cloth.

Jacob began writing early in life. At the age of eight, he first saw people actually valued his words. He was offered the opportunity to write for a magazine, but as great as the opportunity was, Jacob passed on it because he didn’t want any pressure to be associated with his writing. As the years passed, he found himself writing less and less, and before he knew it, he had gone several years without writing anything. As he thought back to the times when he wrote daily, he soon became upset with himself for going so long without putting his thoughts onto paper. In 2003, he vowed to never let that happen again. Now he says, “I promise you, the times that you’ll catch me without some sort of notepad and pencil are gonna be few and far between because you never know when the inspiration will hit.”

To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Jacob Grovey click the play button below: 

Rodrigo Hasbun, Affections

Affections, is a historical novel loosely based on the lives of Hans Ertl, his wife and three daughters who immigrated to Bolivia from Germany shortly after world war 2.

Set against the backdrop of the both optimistic and violent 1950s and 1960s, Affections traces the Ertls’s slow and inevitable breakdown through the various erratic trajectories of each family member: Hans’s undertakings of colossal, foolhardy projects and his subsequent spectacular failures; his daughter Monika, heir to his adventurous spirit, who joins the Bolivian Marxist guerrillas and becomes known as “Che Guevara’s avenger”; and his wife and two younger sisters left to pick up the pieces in their wake.

Rodrigo Hasbún is a Bolivian novelist living and working in Houston. In 2007, he was selected by the Hay Festival as one of the best Latin American writers under the age of thirty-nine for Bogotá39, and in 2010 he was named one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists. He is the author of a previous novel and a collection of short stories.


To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Rodrigo Hasbun click the play button below: 

Michael Hurd, Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas

When people talk about Friday Night lights, it refers not only to the NBC television series, but also how much Texas high school football was played on those nights.  But in Thursday Night Lights, he reveals that most black high schools didn’t have that luxury since White high school football teams played in the tax funded stadiums on those nights during the Jim Crow.  Texas has only been integrated since 1967.  His book is a celebration of the black players and coaches and their stories as part of the all black Prairie View Interscholastic League from 1920 -1970.

Michael Hurd, who grew up in Houston, is an author and historian who was a sports writer for many years in Texas. He is the director of the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture at Prairie View A&M University.

To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Michael Hurd click the play button below: 

Brian Joseph, My Favorite Paintings: Bydee Art

Artist Brian Joseph is very comfortable with being called “Bydeeman.” He wears it like a badge of honor. Sharing joy, happiness, peace, love and unity is the kind of work that makes his life fun! He loves what he does and does what he loves. Brian is still excited about creating art every day, as he was when he started over 30 years ago. He is an author, poet, motivational speaker and artist. He enjoys sharing and doing things that make other people happy. His art promotes diversity and community unity. Over the years he has focused on using his art to promote education. He enjoys painting murals in schools. He also loves to share his Bydee message in his lectures. He has a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Tougaloo College in Mississippi and a M.A. in Urban Studies from Trinity University in San Antonio.


To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Brian Joseph click the play button below: 

Attica Locke, Bluebird, Bluebird

In Attica Locke’s latest novel, Bluebird, Bluebird, she explores simmering racial tensions in a small east Texas town brought about by the murders of a young black man and a young white woman.  Her protagonist, Darren Mathews, is a black Texas ranger who dropped out of law school to become a law enforcement officer after the real life murder of African American James Byrd by three white supremacists in Jasper, Texas in 1998.

A rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas, Bluebird, Bluebird, is a timely novel about the collision of race and justice in America.

Bluebird, Bluebird won the 2018 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Novel.  Attica Locke’s novel Pleasantville was the 2016 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. Her first novel, Black Water Rising, was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her second book, The Cutting Season, wass a national bestseller and the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. A former fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab, Locke has worked as a screenwriter as well. Most recently, she was a writer and producer on the Fox drama, Empire. She serves on the board of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.


To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Attica Locke click the play button below: 

Evelyn Palfrey, Going Home

Evelyn Palfrey is a native Texan and a lawyer who writes romantic suspense for the ‘marvelously mature’—because romance is just as sweet with a little gray at the temple. She is the author of five novels that deal with issues that are common to the middle passage of life, and reflect her 30 years practice of criminal and family law—and her love of RV travel.

Evelyn’s novels have been on the Essence Magazine bestseller list, the BookSense ‘76 list, and have been Black Expressions selections. The Price of Passion was awarded Best Multicultural Book by Romantic Times Magazine. Evelyn’s story, “The Lady at the Bus Stop,” was published in Chicken Soup for the African-American Soul, and her story, “Mama’s Hands,” was published in Chicken Soup for the African-American Woman’s Soul. She has also been a contributor to Black Issues Book Review. Evelyn was nominated for a Career Achievement Award by Romantic Times. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Austin Public Library Foundation, Travis County Lawyer Referral Service, Austin Community Radio, Inc., Writers League of Texas, Texas Municipal Courts Education Center, and the State Bar of Texas. In 2012, she was awarded the Emma Author of the Year by Romance Slam Jam.  To purchase copies of her books go to: http://evelynpalfrey.com/novels.htm.

To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Evelyn Palfrey click the play button below: 

Chaitali Sen, The Pathless Sky

In The Pathless Sky, Chaitali Sen conjures a world in which a nation’s political turmoil, its secret history, and growing social unrest turn life into a fragile and capricious thing and love into a necessary refuge to be defended at all cost, for lovers, then husband and wife, John and Mariam. Government crimes have been whitewashed, personal liberty is deeply compromised, a resistance movement has emerged from the underground to take the fight for freedom to the streets, and the government militia employs increasingly draconian measures in an attempt to maintain control.

Chaitali Sen was born in India and moved to the U.S. at the age of two. She received an MFA from Hunter College. Her short stories have been published in The Colorado Review, New England Review, Juked, among others. She lives in Austin, Texas. This past summer she was awarded a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to attend the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.


To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Natalia Sylvester click the play button below: 

Natalia Sylvester, Everyone Knows You Go Home

The first time Isabel meets her father-in-law, Omar, he’s already dead—an apparition appearing uninvited on her wedding day. Her husband, Martin, still unforgiving for having been abandoned by his father years ago, confesses that he never knew the old man had died. So Omar asks Isabel for the impossible: persuade Omar’s family—especially his wife, Elda—to let him redeem himself.

Isabel and Martin settle into married life in a Texas border town, and Omar returns each year on the celebratory Day of the Dead. Every year Isabel listens, but to the aggrieved Martin and Elda, Omar’s spirit remains invisible. Through his visits, Isabel gains insight into not just the truth about his disappearance and her husband’s childhood but also the ways grief can eat away at love. When Martin’s teenage nephew crosses the Mexican border and takes refuge in Isabel and Martin’s home, questions about past and future homes, borders, and belonging arise that may finally lead to forgiveness—and alter all their lives forever.

Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia Sylvester came to the U.S. at age four. as child she spent time in south Florida, central Florida, and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas before her family set roots once again in Miami.  A former magazine editor, Natalia now works as a freelance writer in Austin, Texas and is a faculty member of the low-res MFA program at Regis University. She is also the author of the novel CHASING THE SUN.


To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Natalia Sylvester click the play button below: 

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