Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Awkward Black Man

by Walter Mosley

A masterful collection of stories that showcases one of the country’s most beloved and acclaimed writers—award-winning author, Walter Mosley

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date September 21, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5685-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 336
  • Publication Date September 15, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4956-5
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date September 15, 2020
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5686-0
  • US List Price $26.00

Bestselling author Walter Mosley has proven himself a master of narrative tension, both with his extraordinary fiction and gripping writing for television. The Awkward Black Man collects seventeen of Mosley’s most accomplished short stories to showcase the full range of his remarkable talent.

Mosley presents distinct characters as they struggle to move through the world in each of these stories—heroes who are awkward, nerdy, self-defeating, self-involved, and, on the whole, odd. He overturns the stereotypes that corral black male characters and paints a subtle, powerful portrait of each of these unique individuals. In “The Good News Is,” a man’s insecurity about his weight gives way to a serious illness and the intense loneliness that accompanies it. Deeply vulnerable, he allows himself to be taken advantage of in return for a little human comfort in a raw display of true need. “Pet Fly,” previously published in the New Yorker, follows a man working as a mailroom clerk for a big company—a solitary job for which he is overqualified—and the unforeseen repercussions he endures when he attempts to forge a connection beyond the one he has with the fly buzzing around his apartment. And “Almost Alyce” chronicles failed loves, family loss, alcoholism, and a Zen approach to the art of begging that proves surprisingly effective.

Touching and contemplative, each of these unexpected stories offers the best of one of our most gifted writers.

Praise for The Awkward Black Man:

Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Fiction
New York Times Editors’ choice
Washington Post 50 Notable Fiction Selection
Boston Globe Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

“The title of Mosley’s latest story collection, ‘The Awkward Black Man,’ is both a spot-on descriptor and yet one that only hints at the broad range of people we find in the book’s pages…Reading these stories, you feel as if you’re sitting with a gifted storyteller while he spins yarns about the strange people living in his mind. The prolific Mosley delights in the wonderfully bizarre…Each protagonist seems simple and often shallow on the surface, but as the story progresses he unfurls into greater and frankly breathtaking complexity.”—New York Times

“Mr. Mosley is a famous crime writer, but this collection is nearer to the recent work of Julian Barnes and Roddy Doyle…In practiced, plainspoken prose, [Mosley] presents a gallery of old men facing divorce, illness or perhaps some more unnamable crisis of existence…The humble stories befit their soft-spoken antiheroes.”—Wall Street Journal

“Mosley might be best known for his mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, but in these short stories, we see the prolific author as a chronicler of Black life in America. As he overturns stereotypes and focuses on individual characters, Mosley asks us not to look away from men who are isolated and awkward, but to see them as human beings in full.”—Washington Post

“Seventeen bold stories of brokenhearted Black men…The stories are tinged with sardonic humor and acerbic observations, many echoing the pained, bristling voices of Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin.”—New Yorker

“Despite the trailblazing work of writers such as Toni Morrison and more recently Edward P. Jones, James McBride, and Colson Whitehead, correcting the canon is an ongoing effort. In the brilliant and bracing The Awkward Black Man, Mosley has given us food for the journey.”—Alta

“These stories tap into the vulnerability and indignity of the human condition, but also its remarkable, even irrational, commitment to hope.”—Buzzfeed

The Awkward Black Man is a treasury of unsung lives, vignettes of the loves of unloved, praise of people who are out of place and time but not out of mind or mortality. . . True to his mystery tradition, these stories are tiny murders of the soul, things that are seldom told from this point of view, showing the insight and talent of Walter Mosley.”—New City Lit

“Walter Mosley is the kind of storyteller that makes his characters’ worst days into something you can recognize and relate to…Fans of Mosley don’t need to be told twice to go find this book. Just go. If you’re new to Mosley but you love short stories, though, The Awkward Black Man might be the best book for your life right now.”—North Dallas Gazette (syndicated)

“The Mosley voices cover the spectrum from dumb despair to sublime wisdom, from sexual intimacy to orgasms on the Staten Island Ferry. The cities are old, and the jobs are ordinary, but he discovers ways to find some truths and show how all life can play out.”—Bookreporter.com

“The cool Black guy stereotype is shattered in this collective of stories about Black men saddled with as much humanity as the rest of us. Follow nerds, weirdos, dorks and oddballs as they take the stage as heroes of their own stories.”—Essence

“Since Walter Mosley published his first book, Devil in a Blue Dress, in 1990, he’s been exposing, dismantling and subverting stereotypes. Race, ethnicity, gender, class — he’s brought a fresh and discerning eye to all of them, in the midst of writing beautifully crafted fiction and thoughtful nonfiction…He does all that again in his new short story collection, The Awkward Black Man.”—Tampa Bay Times

“This autumn, Mosley will be awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which follows the PEN America Lifetime Achievement Award and the Harold Washington Literary Prize for the author of more than 50 books, including his bestselling Easy Rawlins mystery series. As if to underscore the range of his incredible talent, he is publishing an excellent collection of short stories—17 first-person narratives that wrestle in distinctive ways with the experiences of Black men.”—National Book Review

“The tough-minded and tenderly observant Mosley’s style remains constant throughout these stories even as they display varied approaches from the gothic to the surreal. The range and virtuosity of these stories make this Mosley’s most adventurous and, maybe, best book.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Mosley delivers a vibrant collection of 17 luminous stories, many with a focus on downtrodden and troubled protagonists… Each entry is a testament to Mosley’s enduring literary power.”—Publishers Weekly

“These 17 old and more recent stories… feature distinctive characters, plus Mosley’s jazzy prose and extraordinary insights. It’s a tender, sad and gripping collection.”—AARP

“Fifty-plus books into his career, Mosley hasn’t run out of inspired plots, and his interest in social issues remains acute, although he editorializes with the lightest of touches; The Awkward Black Man teems with sharp, quippy dialogue and not a sentence suffers the indignity of a frill… This primo story collection by an author best known for his crime fiction reaffirms his place in the literary pantheon.”—Shelf Awareness

“Master storyteller Mosley has created a beautiful collection about Black men who are, indeed, awkward in their poignant humanity… Mosley’s is an essential American voice and his portraits of Black men will have profound resonance.”—Booklist (starred review)

Praise for Walter Mosley:

“When reviewing a book by Walter Mosley, it’s hard not to simply quote all the great lines. There are so many of them. You want to share the pleasures of Mosley’s jazz-inflected dialogue and the moody, descriptive passages reminiscent of Raymond Chandler at his best.”―Washington Post, on Down the River Unto the Sea

“A daring, beautifully wrought story that incorporates elements of allegory, meditative reflection and the lilt of lyric tragedy. ”―Los Angeles Times, on The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

“With Mosley, there’s always the surprise factor ― a cutting image or a bracing line of dialogue.”―New York Times Book Review, on And Sometimes I Wonder About You

“Mosley’s invigorating, staccato prose and understanding of racial, moral and social subtleties are in full force.”―Seattle Times, on Known to Evil

“Mosley is the Gogol of the African-American working class ― the chronicler par excellence of the tragic and the absurd.”―Vibe

“[Mosley] has a special talent for touching upon these sticky questions of evil and responsibility without getting stuck in them.”―New Yorker