The Queen of Harlem
By Brian Keith Jackson
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780767908399, 256pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2003
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Mason Randolph, a black preppie of impeccable Southern pedigree, is bound for Stanford Law School after graduating from college. Before embarking on the path to his golden future, however, he takes a detour through Harlem, where he intends to live "authentically" with ""real" black people."
Mason takes the name "Malik" and moves into the orbit of the ever--fabulous Carmen, uptown diva and doyenne of Harlem. Carmen, always ready to have a handsome young man at her fabulous soirees and to add to her devoted entourage, happily takes him under her wing. Fueled by his parents' money and dodging the people who remember him as Mason Randolph, "Malik" masquerades as a "ghettonian," exploring the wonders and pleasures of a Harlem in the midst of a second Renaissance. But his odyssey takes a different turn when he meets Kyra, whose world mirrors the one he has abandoned. As he contemplates the choices Kyra has made, and begins to reexamine his own presumptions about identity and authenticity, Mason realizes that everyone has something to hide and that to get what we want, we have to be willing to let go of our secrets.
People" compared Brian Keith Jackson's remarkable first novel, "The View from Here," to the works of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, and "Publishers Weekly" called it "an extraordinary debut... by] a formidable craftsman and exceptionally gifted storyteller." A novel rich in humor and insight, "The Queen of Harlem" will earn Jackson a much--deserved place in the center of today's literary landscape.
"From the Hardcover edition.
BRIAN KEITH JACKSON has received fellowships from Art Matters, the Jerome Foundation, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. The View from Here won the American Library Association Literary Award for First Fiction from the Black Caucus of America. Jackson lives in Harlem.