Alexs Pate author of West of Rehoboth($12.95, Harper)
"If black fiction has any hope of resembling the literary quality which distinguished luminaries like Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin and other titans, it must be done through the efforts like those of Alexs D Pate" - Pulse
West Of Rehoboth takes place during the summer of 1962, when gang wars were raging in North Philadelphia. Edward Massey and his family are making their annual pilgrimage out of the city to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where Edward’s mother can work and the children can be safe from the violence that encompasses their daily lives. But as twelve-year old Edward soon learns, an African-American male can never truly be sheltered from the hopelessness, despair, and violence that racism breeds. For Edward, this is the summer that the spirit of Jim Crow, which permeates every aspect of life in Rehoboth Beach, suddenly becomes very real.
West Of Rehoboth is a poignant coming of age story that brilliantly captures the complexities of life in the 1960s segregated South. It features Edward, an adolescent more interested in Agatha Christie’s sleuth “Poirot” than football, and “Uncle” Rufus, a bitter old man who lurks around the edges of Aunt Edna’s property. Together they forge an unlikely friendship that transforms them in unimaginable ways.
When asked to deliver clean laundry to Rufus’s shack in the back yard, Edward is at once frightened and delighted. Immediately drawn in by his rye-soaked voice and smut ridden language, Edward ignores his gut feelings and begins to sneak out to visit Rufus every chance he gets. After a forbidden drive with his drunken “uncle” turns tragic, the semi-conscious Edward is taken on an hallucinatory trip back to Rufus’s troubled childhood and past where he is able to finally “see” the fateful events that played a part in destroying Rufus. By the time help arrives, Edward has realized that he has the power within himself to determine his “uncle’s” innocence or guilt, as well as the strength to better control his own destiny.
A Black Caucus of the American Library Association award winner,West Of Rehoboth is a moving tale of injustice and salvation, bringing the struggles and triumphs of the African-American male and the African-American family to life. Full of strong, vibrant characters, it is a richly textured work by one of the most exciting new voices in literary fiction.
Alexs D. Pate swears that if he were born later, he’d be a rap star. Instead he is the best selling author of Amistad: A Novel (based on the film by Steven Spielberg), Finding Makeba, Losing Absalom, and The Multicultiboho Sideshow.
Pate is an Associate Professor of African-American and African studies at the University of Minnesota. He teaches courses on fiction writing, English, and literature, and is most proud of his POETRY OF RAP class. His essays and commentary have appeared in the Utne Reader, The Washington Post, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, and USA Weekend. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The Butterfly Tree, Indigene, Artpaper, and The North Stone Review. Also an avid performance artist, Pate lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota
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