Friday, October 27, 2006

Hero's (Kenji Jasper:)

At 30, Kenji Jasper can boast of a 16-year career in writing and journalism, which began when he published his first article as an intern for The Washington Informer newspaper at the age of 13. At 14, he became a contributor to Black Entertainment Television's YSB Magazine, and later worked as a writer/instructor at The Institute for the Preservation and Study of African American Writing. He also served as an on-air personality for WTTG Fox 5's Newsbag .(1986-1987), and later as one of the founding cast members of Black Entertainment Television's Teen Summit (1989-1993). By the time he graduated from Morehouse College in 1997, his journalism had appeared in VIBE, Essence, The Village Voice, Upscale, The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union Tribune, and The Atlanta Tribune .

But creative writing has always been his true love. He penned his first novel, Dark , at the age of 21. It has since been released in the United Kingdom and translated into French. It was later optioned to be made into a film by State Street Pictures(Soul Food, Barbershop, Roll Bounce) and Fox Searchlight Pictures.

His second novel, Dakota Grand, was published in September of 2002 and met praise from Publishers Weekly, VIBE, Essence, The Chicago Sun-Times and among many others. His latest novel, Seeking Salamanca Mitchell , was published in July 2004.

Mr. Jasper has contributed articles and essays to National Public Radio, The Village Voice, VIBE, The Charlotte Observer, The Chicago Sun-Times and Essence among many other publications. His first work of nonfiction, The House on Childress Street, was published in January of 2006. He is currently co-editing Beats, Rhymes and Life , a collection of critical writings on hip hop culture with writer/director Ytasha Womack. He is also the CEO and Editor of The Armory, a publishing partnership with Akashic Books. It's first release, Got by first-time author D, will be published in February of 2007.

Review of Dark
From Publishers Weekly
In a new twist on the growing genre of "thug noir," Jasper tells the poignant story of 19-year-old Thai Williams, whose life is turned upside down when he kills a rival for his girl's affections after walking in on the two in bed together. A resident of the infamous Shaw neighborhood in Washington, D.C., Thai is considered the intellectual in a foursome of young black men. The other three are Enrique, the blessed one; Ray Ray, the loco; and Snowflake, the hoodlum. Leaving behind his government job and plans for college, Thai flees to Charlotte, N.C., to hide out in an apartment provided by one of his friends. In terse, fluid prose, Jasper paints effortless, three-dimensional portraits of all of the key players. Set against the backdrop of the young African-American communities in both D.C. and Charlotte, the book addresses critical issues without preaching. What sets this novel apart are the high quality of the writing and the carefully developed themes of responsibility and redemption; each person Thai meets during his flight from the law brings him closer to emotional maturity. Jasper's engrossing debut evades stereotype, zeroing in with style and substance on what it takes to not only survive but to thrive as a young black man in the killing streets of the inner city.

You can contact Kenji at

When Clowns go Terrorist

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