cover image Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption

Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption

Jerald Walker. Bantam, $25 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-553-80755-4

In this spectacular debut, Iowa Workshop grad Walker, an African American professor of English, contrasts his misspent youth in the Chicago projects with his adult life as a college professor and family man. Moving back and forth fluidly through time, Walker creates a vivid sense of character, his own and those around him, as well as the standard pitfalls of ghetto life he narrowly avoided. The result is a funny, poignant, thoughtful and exceptionally well-written memoir that follows Walker from Chicago to Africa and locations across the U.S., each of which is crisply, authentically captured. While delivering a thorough, personal take on race relations, opportunity, and privilege, Walker hooks readers with his prose and honesty, without plying for sympathy or playing to readers' preconceptions. With broad appeal and pertinent timing, Walker's first effort could be the pick-it-up and pass-it-on memoir of the season.