In this edition of my Great Authors Series, I will be paying tribute to one of my all-time favorite authors, Walter Mosley. I discovered Mosley while in middle school when I read his debut novel, Devil In A Blue Dress, for one of my Literature classes. The focus that trimester was mystery novels, and the class was taught by one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Arnold Himelstein. While it might have been more of an “adult book” I was an advanced reader and I knew that I was privileged to read it.
Born and raised in Los Angeles to an African American father and a Jewish mother, Walter Mosley has ancestral roots in Louisiana and Russia. He grew up in the South Central and Westside areas of Los Angeles. His father, a US Army veteran worked as a supervising custodian in the public schools of Los Angeles and his mother was a personnel clerk.
Both parents were well-read and encouraged his love of reading though it was not until after adulthood that Mosley began writing. He is a graduate of Johnson State College where he earned a degree in political science and later an MFA graduate of the City College of New York (CUNY) in Harlem. (Which is also my alma mater.)
Walter Mosley originally moved to New York City in 1981 where he worked initially as a computer programmer before making his way into the literary world. With a strong debut and the beginning of the Easy Rawlins series, Walter Mosley created a firm place for himself in the literary world and in the canon of African American literature. Over the years, he has written dozens of novels, plays, non-fiction books and has had his works adapted for television and film.
Over the years I have kept up with Mosley as he has continued the Easy Rawlins series and branched out into other genres including non-fiction and science fiction. In fact, I spent all of 2014 and most of 2015 re-reading the Easy Rawlins series from the beginning. I love the Fearless Jones series as much as I love the Easy Rawlins. I'm a fan of the new Leonid McGill series and I thoroughly enjoyed the single tomes: The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Killing Johnny Fry and RL's Dream.
Still, I have not read all of Mosley's books. I am still working through his catalog of works. What I love most about his writing are his characters---they are troubled, dynamic, perfectly flawed with just the right amount of humanity to make them seem real. I also admire his historical depictions of the black community and his commitment to show the racism and segregation we experienced. Mosley does this especially in his books that are set in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.
I feel like I always learn something from his works. And to be honest, it's hard to read other books by non-favorite authors after I've finished reading one of his books. Oftentimes, I simply pick up another book by Walter Mosley. He's truly one of my favorite authors.
If you haven't read a book by Walter Mosley, I can't recommend him enough.