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The Queen of Harlem

A Novel

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Paperback published by Broadway Books (Crown Publishing Group)

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About This Book
An African American Breakfast at Tiffany’s–a hip, refreshingly candid tale of identity and self—discovery from the critically acclaimed author of The View from Here and Walking Through Mirrors.

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.
Show less
An African American Breakfast at Tiffany’s–a hip, refreshingly candid tale of identity and self—discovery from the critically acclaimed author of The View from Here and Walking Through Mirrors.

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.
Product Details
Paperback (256 pages)
Published: April 1, 2003
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Imprint: Broadway Books
ISBN: 9780767908399
Other books byBrian Keith Jackson
  • Walking Through Mirrors

    Walking Through Mirrors
    In his breathtaking debut, The View From Here, Brian Keith Jackson took us inside the heart of black family life in the rural South. Now, in a novel that resonates with pure emotion, he sends photographer Jeremy Bishop back to Elsewhere, Louisiana, for the funeral that marks the end of his father's life -- and the true beginning of his own. His grandmother, Mama B, called him Patience. Jeremy was, she said, the most agreeable child. He would have liked to tell her that, even while growing up, his hidden wants festered deep inside him. His mother died just hours after his birth, and he was raised by Mama B and his Aunt Jess after his father disappeared. Even after his dad returned one day with his new family, Jeremy kept his distance. But it is a decade later, and Jeremy, now a successful New York photographer, gets a phone call from Louisiana. It is time for Jeremy Bishop to journey the long way home to help bury his father. In the graveyard where his father's body will be laid to rest; in a stranger's appearance at the wake; in a suicide; a murder; and finally inside a cardboard box that had belonged to his father, Jeremy will find himself in ways he never imagined. Conjuring Jeremy's youth in flashbacks as textured as the denim patch on his grandmother's rocking chair, Jackson weaves together past and present in a novel at once astonishing and universally human.

    The View From Here

    The View From Here

    Kehinde Wiley

    Kehinde Wiley
    Known for his oversize paintings of contemporary African-Americans in heroic poses inspired by the great history and portrait painters of the past, Kehinde Wiley’s clever and ironic “reversals” have provided rich commentary on the nature of race and power in our society. His work began primarily from photographs he took of young men on the street in Harlem that he remixed with a fusion of historic painting styles, including elements of the French rococo. As rich visually as it is conceptually, Wiley’s work has drawn attention since his earliest shows in 2001. In the last decade, he has become one of the most important artists of the moment, with work as relevant and resonant to the hip-hop generation as it is to high-end collectors and major museums. This volume—the only comprehensive monograph on Wiley’s work—offers an in-depth understanding of this important artist’s work. It chronicles both the earliest paintings and photographs and his recent forays into sculpture—bust portraits in bronze in the manner of Renaissance artists.  

    Black Light

    Black Light
    “For most of Kehinde Wiley’s very successful career, he has created large, vibrant, highly patterned paintings of young African American men wearing the latest in hip hop street fashion. The theatrical poses and objects in the portraits are based on well-known images of powerful figures drawn from seventeenth- through nineteenth-century Western art. Pictorially, Wiley gives the authority of those historical sitters to his twenty-first-century subjects.” —National Portrait Gallery  “My intention is to craft a world picture that isn’t involved in political correctives or visions of utopia. It’s more of a perpetual play with the language of desire and power.” —Kehinde Wiley “Wiley inserts black males into a painting tradition that has typically omitted them or relegated them to peripheral positions. At the same time, he critiques contemporary portrayals of black masculinity itself…. He systematically takes a ‘pedestrian’ encounter with African-American men, elevates it to heroic scale, and reveals—through subtle formal alterations—that postures of power can sometimes be seen as just that, a pose.” —Art in America Los Angeles native and New York-based visual artist Kehinde Wiley has firmly situated himself within art history’s portrait painting tradition. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists—including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, and others—Wiley engages the signs and visual rhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic, and sublime in his representation of urban black and brown men found throughout the world. By applying the visual vocabulary and conventions of glorification, wealth, prestige, and history to subject matter drawn from the urban fabric, Wiley makes his subjects and their stylistic references juxtaposed inversions of each other, imbuing his images with ambiguity and provocative perplexity. In Black Light, his first monograph, Wiley’s larger-than-life figures disturb and interrupt tropes of portrait painting, often blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation and the critical portrayal of masculinity and physicality as it pertains to the view of black and brown young men. The models are dressed in their everyday clothing, most of which is based on far-reaching Western ideals of style, and are asked to assume poses found in paintings or sculptures representative of the history of their surroundings. This juxtaposition of the “old” inherited by the “new”—who often have no visual inheritance of which to speak—immediately provides a discourse that is at once visceral and cerebral in scope. Without shying away from the socio-political histories relevant to the subjects, Wiley’s heroic images exhibit a unique modern style that awakens complex issues which many would prefer remain mute.

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