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This profile was last updated on 4/29/15  and contains information from public web pages.

Mr. Walter Mosley

Wrong Walter Mosley?


Local Address: Seattle, Washington, United States

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations


  • honorary doctorate
  • Goddard College
  • Johnson State College
200 Total References
Web References
courtesy Walter ..., 29 April 2015 [cached]
courtesy Walter Mosley
You certainly know Walter Mosley from his series of mystery novels featuring hardboiled Los Angeles PI Easy Rawlins.
But that megaselling series - one book of which was adapted into a film starring Denzel Washington - is just the tip of the literary iceberg for Mosley, who works in genres ranging from mysteries to sci-fi to erotica to plays to political op-ed pieces, all of it offered in his own polished and, often, opinionated prose.
Mosley will visit Las Vegas May 7 to speak at a program sponsored by the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute. The program begins at 7 p.m. in the ballroom of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Student Center. Tickets are free at the door.
In addition to working in a diverse array of literary genres, Mosley isn't averse to mixing things up a bit, weaving history into his mysteries, social commentary into his sci-fi and keen sociopolitical insights into, well, just about everything he does. During a recent phone interview, Mosley said crossing and intermingling genres is merely part of being a writer and looking at the world through a writer's eyes.
It's nothing new, Mosley added. "If you read a lot of Twain or Dickens, they had stories that were love stories, mysteries, history. Everyone wrote just about everything."
In the end, he said, the value of any story, in whatever genre, lies in whether "that's good writing I want to read (and if) that's a voice I want to hear."
Nonetheless, Mosley has earned his most popular success in the mystery genre through his Easy Rawlins mysteries. Does it seem that mysteries are, in many ways, a popular but critically disrespected genre of literature?
Maybe, he answered, "but the worst is sci-fi. Nobody respects sci-fi, and I'm not really sure why"
Well-written, serious works exist in every genre, Mosley said, and there are "some very well-written, wonderful mysteries, from Hammett and Chandler down to so many writers who are really wonderful writers. And, then, you have the hack writers, just like you have hack writers in every other genre - the coming of age novel, memoirs, so-called literary novels."
In fact, Mosley added, "the most marginalized form of writing is literary writing, because people buy more mysteries, romances and sci-fi than they do literary novels."
Mosley's already-popular Rawlins series got a significant kick onto the mass-market radar in 1992 when candidate Bill Clinton named Mosley as a favorite author.
That was "a wonderful thing," Mosley said, but, at the same time, the first few books he'd written already were doing well.
"So it was wonderful that Bill Clinton read it," Mosley said, but "it's the old lady sitting on the corner who turned to me and said, 'I read your book' that was really exciting."
At first, Mosley said, "I wasn't even thinking about writing mysteries. I wanted to talk about the black migration from Texas and Louisiana to the western states, and it turned out that the second time I tried it, it turned into a mystery and that was the first book I published."
Mosley's Las Vegas presentation will be the first entry in the Black Mountain Institute's Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture series, and he'll talk about higher education. Mosley said that, while he's not fond of labels, he considers himself a left-leaning "pragmatist" politically, and believes that both the Republican and Democratic parties have let African-Americans down. He's deeply wary of capitalism. And, he rejects the notion that, with President Barack Obama's election, America has become a so-called postracial society.
Mosley said he has had publishers decline to publish some of his work and who "say, 'It's too political. Can't you just say something nice?' Well, yeah, I mean people are dying all over the world, and it's hard to say something nice about that."
"It's important to be political," Mosley said.
The Man in My Basement by ..., 2 Mar 2015 [cached]
The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley Little, Brown, 249 pages, 2004, fiction, hardcover
Mosley is best known for his Easy Rawlins mystery novels, but he quit writing these a few years ago. Since then, he has collected some essays and tried his hand at science fiction, but he never strays too far from his informed obsession, the conundrum of race in America. His take on race is not predictable or politically correct, but it is challenging, to both black and white.
Mosley is too perceptive a novelist to make this power an act of liberation.
Somewhere there's a lesson here, but Mosley is far too devious to spell it out.
Official Website of Author Walter Mosley, 6 Mar 2014 [cached]
Walter Mosley
Mosley, the author of more than three dozen books, is perhaps best known for his best-selling crime fiction, including the popular Easy Rawlins series.
Fifteen years after Laurence Fishburne starred as Walter Mosley‘s Socrates Fortlow in the HBO movie Always Outnumbered written by Mosley and directed by Michael Apted, the actor-producer is revisiting the character for HBO, this time on the series side.
It is based on the series of novels by Mosley featuring Fortlow: an ex-convict who seeks redemption â€" while battling inner demons and external forces â€" after serving 27 years in prison. The books include Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, Walkin’ The Dog and The Right Mistake. Mosley and Patrick Charles are co-writing the series adaptation, with Fishburne attached to star.
by Walter Mosley
“OK, Walter, but let me tell you something first.
Walter Mosley and Ta-Nehisi Coates
On Friday, May 31 at 4:00pm EDT, The New York Times Bestselling author Walter Mosley talks about his book LITTLE GREEN, with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor, The Atlantic. Watch the conversation live, here.
"It was great," Mosley enthuses, "because for all intents and purposes, Easy was dead. And when he came back to consciousness, he felt dead. … Most of my novels are about redemption. But 'Little Green' is about resurrection. And so, I naturally followed it, from having him wake up dead to, at the end of the book, actually being alive."
For Mosley, writing about Easy again is a kind of homecoming, precisely the process in which he is engaged today. A tall man, bald and gently spoken, he stands at Pico and Genesee, wearing a hat, a jacket and black shoes.
He's in town from New York â€" where he moved in 1979 after attending Goddard College â€" for a bookseller dinner and meetings, but he's agreed to spend an afternoon walking this Mid-City neighborhood, where he grew up and where, in his fictional universe, Easy lives.
"One of the problems I saw, or one of the empty places I saw, in the literature about California," Mosley says, "was that you really didn't know about all the people of color who moved here. It's not just black people. It's the Koreans, the Mexicans, the Chinese, the Japanese.
Part of the appeal had to do with the layout of the streets, which Mosley calls "really kind of gorgeous, that California dream, that working class â€" which many people confuse as middle class â€" California dream, with a house and a lawn and a great place to live."
In many ways, that describes his parents, who bought a pair of duplexes on Spaulding, just south of Pico, in 1964. Yet equally important is how the neighborhood reflected, and continues to reflect, the changing face of Los Angeles: both its diversity and its tortured history around race.
"This neighborhood," Mosley says, "has always been in flux.
"You know," Mosley observes, "you can have the existentialist detective.
As for Mosley, this is the draw of returning to the character, that he can frame him differently.
"The reason I ended it," he notes, referring to the original arc of the series as well as the grim finale of "Blonde Faith," "was that I thought my work on it was no longer interesting. I'd been writing about Easy, about Easy, about Easy, and I had fallen into a rut. He needed to be reborn."
Now Mosley plans to keep him around for a while; he's just finished a follow-up to "Little Green" called "Rose Gold."
"It's fun to open that door again," he says as he makes his way back to Pico, through the streets where he and his detective have their roots.
Written by Walter Mosley
Adapted from his book, Tempest Tales, and inspired by Langston Hughes' colorful character, Jesse B. Semple, Walter Mosley takes us on a hip tripâ€"an ethereal excursion into the metaphysical conundrum between right and wrong, good and evil.
Camera Q&A: Walter Mosley on adapting his novels for the screen, by Christian Niedan
Walter Mosley is a New York City-based author, whose 37+ book literary career goes back to 1990′s Devil in a Blue Dress. That novel kicked off a series revolving around detective Ezekiel “Easy†Rawlins â€" a Black resident of the Watts section of Los Angeles, whose continuing story begins in 1948, and (with the May 2013 release of his 12th story,Little Green) has progressed to 1967. Mosley also created the character of ex-convict Socrates Fortlow, the modern-day protagonist of Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, and two other novels. Both Rawlins and Fortlow were adapted for the screen in the 1990s.
Royce Carlton - Walter Mosley, 28 Aug 2011 [cached]
Walter Mosley
Mystery Writer Novelist Social Commentator
Walter Mosley
Over two decades of diverse and prolific literary achievement, Walter Mosley has become the preeminent African-American man of letters. Refusing to be pigeonholed or limited by genre, he is the critically hailed, award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of some thirty-eight books to date in genres ranging from the crime novel to literary fiction, nonfiction, political essay, science fiction, young adult, and erotica.
Mosley is a recipient of PEN USA's Lifetime Achievement Award, whose work has been translated into twenty-one languages. His short fiction has appeared in a wide array of publications, including The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Los Angeles Times Magazine, and Playboy, and his nonfiction has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, and The Nation. Mosley initiated a new feature for The Nation in 2009 entitled "Ten Things" as a way to make political and social action more accessible. The feature invites a guest expert to tackle an issue and offer a brief list of recommendations for accomplishing a desired political or social end.
He was the founder of the Black Genius lecture series at New York University, as well as the editor of and a contributor to the book Black Genius. He was also the guest editor for The Best American Short Stories of 2003. In addition, he has written for television, film, and the stage, and two major films - Devil in a Blue Dress and Always Outnumbered - have been made from his work. In January 2010, "The Fall of Heaven," Mosley first play based on his The Tempest Tales, opened in Cincinnati and is scheduled to open in St. Louis in January 2011. A new series based on Mosley's The Long Fall, the debut novel in his Leonid McGill detective series, is in development at HBO.
In his acclaimed fiction, Mosley has explored the black experience in America over the past seven decades, beginning with the migration of African-Americans from the Deep South to his native Los Angeles in the post-World War II era and through the post-Obama election-era new York City. As David Ulin wrote in The Atlantic Monthly of Mosley's celebrated Easy Rawlins books, "Mosley has never been a traditional crime novelist; rather, he writes to serve a cultural agenda, and for him the mystery is less a whodunit than a vehicle for exploring a way of life. . . . Read together, the Rawlins books compose a sprawling novel of manners about twentieth-century African-American Los Angeles that owes as much to authors like Dickens and Zola as it does to the aesthetics of noir."
Reviewing Mosley's 2004 novel The Man in My Basement, Renée Graham wrote in the Boston Globe, "Mosley, who has quietly become one of this nation's finest writers, has always been closer in literary spirit to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson than to Agatha Christie.
Like Wilson's, Mosley's works explore what it means to be an African-American through the daily lives of ordinary people. His achievement . . . is to find suspense in the psychological and philosophical motives of his characters as they wrestle with history and heritage, responsibility and redemption."
Mosley makes this such a lucid, sinuous book that its big issues are handled with idiosyncratic grace. . . ." In The New Yorker, Ben Greenman called it "a compelling, peculiar exploration of race and identity. . . . It has a subtle sense of humor that leavens the philosophical inquiry.
It's to be expected that Mosley can manage an investigation. . . . But he has a special talent for touching upon these sticky questions of evil and responsibility without getting stuck in them."
Furthermore, Mitgang wrote, Mosley had portrayed "a black world of slang and code words that haven't been delivered with such authenticity since Chester Himes created his Harlem detective stories."
Also in The New York Times, D. J. R. Bruckner wrote, "Crime is the high road to philosophy for Walter Mosley. In fact, what draws him to write mysteries is the chance to attack moral questions, and the novel that has most affected his writing and his outlook is not a crime story but The Stranger by the French existentialist Albert Camus. In the Los Angeles Times, Digby Diehl wrote that Mosley's "insightful scenes of black life in 1948 provide a sort of social history that doesn't exist in other detective fiction. . . . He recreates the era convincingly, with all of its racial tensions, evoking the uneasy combination of freedom and disillusion in the postwar black community and revealing a tough, fresh perspective on Los Angeles history."
In his brilliantly reviewed new Leonid McGill series - including the latest installment, Known to Evil - Mosley continues his exploration of the African-American experience in contemporary Manhattan, where he has lived since 1981. Throughout his career, Mosley has consistently given powerful voice to complex African-American male protagonists as few other fiction writers have done - a tradition that continues in both the Leonid McGill mysteries and his most recent literary novel, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. In his nonfiction and science fiction, he has provocatively explored the political dimensions of the African-American and working-class experience, as well as the special perspective that African-Americans bring to the understanding of American history and the quest for world peace.
Beyond his own extraordinary body of work, Mosley's literary activities extend to the realms of education and social activism. With City College of the City University of New York, he has created a new publishing degree program aimed at young urban residents, which is the only such program in the country. He was the first African-American to serve on the board of directors of the National Book Awards, and he has served on the boards of the Full Frame Documentary Festival, the Poetry Society of America, TransAfrica, and Goddard College.
A former president of the Mystery Writers of America, Mosley has opened the door for a generation of African-American mystery writers with his critical and popular success. In 1997, he created a stir within the literary world when he published the prequel to the Rawlins series, Gone Fishin', with a small black publishing house, Black Classic Press of Baltimore. Mosley felt it was important "to create a model that other writers, black or not, can look at to see that it's possible to publish a book successfully outside mainstream publishing in New York."
Yet Mosley's broad readership transcends racial, class, and gender lines, through authorial intent as well as reader response. Faithful to the truth and texture of the African-American experience, Mosley's work also includes finely drawn, multifaceted characters of all races, who inhabit the full range from hero to villain. In 1992, President Bill Clinton boosted his burgeoning career to new prominence when he named Mosley as one of his favorite writers. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Mosley said of his work, "I want black people to have a good time. I mean, I want black people to read the book and say, 'That's my language, that's my life. That's my history. But I want white people to say, 'Boy, you know, I feel just like that!'"
Mosley is the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Anisfield Wolf Award, for works that increase the appreciation and understanding of race in America. He won the 1996 Black Caucus of the American Library Association's Literary Award for his novel RL's Dream. He was an O. Henry Award winner in 1996 for one of his Socrates Fortlow stories and is featured in Prize Stories 1996: The O. Henry Awards. In 2002, he won a Grammy Award for his liner notes accompanying "Richard Pryor: And It's Deep Too!: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992). In 2005, he was honored by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute with a "Risktaker Award" for both his creative and activist efforts. In 2006, he became the first recipient of the Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award for his young adult novel 47. He has twice been awarded the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Fiction in 2008 for Blonde Faith and in 2010 for The Long Fall. Mosley was also awarded an honorary doctorate from City College in 2005.
Born in 1952, Mosley was raised in Los Angeles as the only child of an African-American father from Louisiana who worked as a public school custodial supervisor, and a mother of Polish Jewish background who worked as a school administrator. The vivid stories he heard from relatives on both sides of his family, drawn from their rich Southern black and Eastern European cultures, along with
Board of Trustees: 1994-1995 | PEN American Center, 24 May 2013 [cached]
Walter Mosley
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