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Harlem Mosaics
by Whit Frazier

Print ISBN: 9781737214915
EPUB ISBN: 9781737214908

From Publisher's Weekly:

"Frazier’s witty, fresh fictionalization of the Harlem Renaissance, told from the points of view of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, is a delight. Readers follow Hughes and Hurston in New York and across the U.S. as they work on a folktale-based African-American opera together. The opera eventually becomes their controversial play, Mule Bone, and the process of writing it ruins their friendship. The conversations between the two—and among all characters—are superbly imagined (“A lie’s a story, silly. Of course my lie’ll be true. Listen.”) Frazier (Robert Johnson’s Freewheeling Jazz Funeral) brings to life important figures from the era—Bessie Smith, Thurgood Marshall, and Wallace Thurman—convincingly capturing their mannerisms and points of view, particularly on race-related issues. Minor irritations do arise, mostly in the form of awkward phrasings, but the missteps all but disappear in light of frequently superlative prose that can be sweet, piquant, gritty, and poetic (“Slim’s voice was lazy, a round plum, a sound so ripe you could taste it”). This informative, thoughtful novel is a page-turning tour of a singular piece of America’s past."

Available now in paperback and ebook from the following retailers (as well as many others), or ask your favorite brick and mortar bookstore to order a copy.


Harlem Mosaics now has a Spotify playlist. You don't need to have read the novel to dig the playlist. It's blues, jazz, zydeco, spirituals, jubilee, Bahamian, Cuban and classical music from the 1920s and 1930s.

The playlist follows the sequential events in the book like a movie soundtrack, so listening from start to finish (two hours) in some ways evokes the story of the novel (and the way music changes between 1927 and 1931), but it’s also a blast to listen to on shuffle!

Where possible, recordings have been used that would have been available to the characters during those heady years of experimental modernism, Black and white. The way some well-known pieces were conceived and interpreted at the time can be surprising!

Sweet & Sour: Harlem Mosaics at Eatonville Restaurant

This is a short film produced from an evening at Eatonville Restaurant in Washington, DC on April 28th, 2013. The event was part of Eatonville's 'Food and Folklore' series -- a series of live events at the restaurant that celebrated African American culture in all its diversity and richness. On this particular evening, the author reads from Harlem Mosaics, and engages in a discussion about the friendship of Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes with the audience members, the host Pamela Pinnock, and the moderator and owner of Eatonville Restaurant, Andy Shallal. The film (a youtube link) takes the form of a hybrid documentary/ education video/ live recording.

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