Thursday, January 12, 2023

Top 10 books about California

Jane Smiley is the author of numerous novels, including A Thousand Acres, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and the Last Hundred Years Trilogy: Some Luck, Early Warning, and Golden Age. She is the author as well of several works of nonfiction and books for young adults. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, she has also received the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature. She lives in Northern California.

Smiley's newest book is A Dangerous Business.

At the Guardian she tagged ten books with "a vivid sense of the author’s love of California, along with a readiness to tell the truth and offer a critique." One title on the list:
Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley

Little Scarlet is part of a lengthy series of historical mysteries set in LA. The main character is investigator Easy Rawlins (and Easy always makes sure that no one pronounces it “Rawlings”). This one is set around the time of the 1965 riots in the Watts neighbourhood of LA. Easy’s job is not to uncover the deaths of the 34 African American citizens who were killed by the police, but to uncover the circumstances around the killing of a young woman who seems to have been murdered. The police hire Easy because they know that, given the riots, they would not be able to get any information themselves about the death from any of the African American citizens. The best thing about Easy as a detective is that he tells his own story and reveals what he’s feeling as well as thinking. He’s no imperturbable Holmes or Poirot – he’s a family man trying to navigate city life, family life, racism, and the complexity of life in LA.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Little Scarlet is among A.G. Lombardo's ten favorite novels about riots and rebellion.

--Marshal Zeringue