Literary Arts Series

Authors visit Bergen Community College

Walter Mosley


Walter Mosley is our 2024 Literary Arts Series speaker. The event will be held on campus Tuesday, March 26, 2024, 1:30-3:00 p.m. in A-104, Pitkin Education Center. A book signing will be from 3:00-3:30. All are welcome.

Mosley has written more than 60 books categorized as mystery, crime, science fiction, literary fiction, political, young adult, nonfiction, instructional, graphic novels, and erotica. He also won a 2001 Grammy for his contributions to Richard Pryor’s And It’s Deep Too. Mosley has also been executive producer and writer for the TV series Snowfall . His screenplay was the basis for Devil in a Blue Dress with Denzel Washington playing Easy Rawlins, adapted from his original best-selling mystery.

His honors include the 2020 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award, the New York State Writers Hall of Fame, and lifetime achievement awards from both PEN America and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. His short stories and op-ed essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Playboy and The Nation.


Walter Mosley Brilliantly Depicted Black English — and Black Thought“Mosley is indeed one of literature’s most accurate and savory recorders of Black English, rendering casual speech as art. His precise dialogue illustrates how Black English forms can vary from sentence to sentence….I’ll now be reading all of Mosley’s novels. And maybe even giving them out to people. In any case, I’ve been rewarded for letting go of my intransigence, perhaps a microcosmic version of Socrates trying to let go of his guilt and pain, and I would hope that the Library of America will soon get around to canonizing Mosley with his own collection. In the meantime, though, as Socrates says in salute at the story’s end: “I guess we bettah be gettin’ back to the war.”

Walter Mosley’s New York: Classes Divided, Races at War“But Mosley’s labyrinth leads Joe to a delightful variety of artfully drawn settings. One minute, he’s outwitting oligarchs in the Obsidian Club, a gleaming Midtown billionaires’ lounge; the next, he’s bantering with a sex worker in hardscrabble Brownsville, “a place where children learn lessons that they spend the rest of their lives trying to forget. All this is classic Mosley, a master of the hard-boiled style that Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett pioneered in the 1930s. The byzantine plot, the suave private eye, all the uncanny similes; it’s a cocktail that skilled authors will serve as long as bartenders are still pouring Negronis.”


Walter Mosley in The Paris Review: The Art of Fiction | PDF “Mosley, sixty-five, was raised in Watts, a blue-collar neighborhood in Los Angeles. His mother, a Jew from New York, and his father, an African American from New Iberia, Louisiana, worked in the same school district, as a clerk and a janitor, respectively.”

Walter Mosley Thinks America Is Getting Dumber “But what are the problems that we face when you start dealing with capitalism, existentialism, when you start living with sexism? How do we deal with these things? With identity politics? You have to tell stories about real people experiencing it and not real people with a Ph.D. People who are not stupid but ignorant, who don’t know things about the world. So then they’re trying to figure out what’s right and wrong according to what they do know.”

“My grandfather on my mother’s side, Harry Slatkin, was a Jew from Russia — or the satellites of Russia. He came to America, I think, in 1905. He was a doctor. He was talking to my mom once, and she said she was going to marry my father, and he said, “But Black people, they’re closer to the apes than we are!” But when my grandfather met my father, he fell in love with him. He was running around with a series of prejudices that didn’t make sense but he thought were true. There’s all kinds of things like that. But yeah, a lot of racism comes out of your fears, your bruises, your wounds, and this character needed to hate somebody. It wasn’t until he fell in love that he was able to question the need to hate.”

The Curious Case of Walter Mosley“I ask Mosley if he would ever write a novel with a central Jewish character. “Not if he wasn’t black,” he replies. I lift an eyebrow. “Hardly anybody in America has written about black male heroes,” he explains. “There are black male protagonists and black male supporting characters, but nobody else writes about black male heroes.” Mosley’s self-appointed job is to show these black heroes righting wrongs and protecting people, all in the name of justice, just like their white predecessors and contemporaries.”


Why I Quit the Writers’ Room: The worst thing you can do to citizens of a democracy is silence them.“The worst thing you can do to citizens of a democratic nation is to silence them. And the easiest way to silence a woman or a man is to threaten his or her livelihood. Let’s not accept the McCarthyism of secret condemnation. Instead let’s delve a little deeper, limiting the power that can be exerted over our citizens, their attempts to express their hearts and horrors, and their desire to speak their truths. Only this can open the dialogue of change.”

Walter Mosley on America’s Obsession with Crime“Fiction, better than reality, gives us heroes who can’t let us down, who cannot be arrested, convicted, or vilified. Maybe these stories won’t be able to resolve our dilemmas in the real world, but they can offer escape through a fantasy where even a common everyday Joe (or Jane) can be saved. This salvation has always been our goal. Forgiveness for our sinful desires and secret trysts, for our failures and broken commandments, for our weakness beside the machine that covers the world with its cold, gray shadow.”

For Authors, Fragile Ideas Need Loving Every Day“Our most precious ability, the knack of creation, is also our most fleeting resource. What might be fades in the world of necessity. How can I create when I have to go to work, cook my dinner, remember what I did wrong to the people who have stopped calling? And even if I do find a moment here and there – a weekend away in the mountains, say – how can I say everything I need to say before the world comes crashing back with all of its sirens and shouts and television shows?”I know I have a novel in me,” I often hear people say. “But how can I get it out?” The answer is, always is, every day.”

Book Excerpts

Fearless Jones
The Awkward Black Man“People are so afraid of dying that they don’t even live the little bit of life they have.”

Farewell, Amethystine

Discussion Questions and Vocabulary

True Crime Discussion Questions
True Crime Vocabulary

Literary Arts Series

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