Born in 1952 in the Watts section of Los Angeles, Mosley is best known for his “Easy Rawlins” detective fiction series set in the same area. Over the course of the series’ eleven novels, Mosley takes his hard-boiled hero through many of the significant political and social events of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and beyond. Often compared to Raymond Chandler’s “Philip Marlowe” character, Rawlins explores inner city Los Angeles through themes of interracial relations and racial discrimination, and exposes “a sprawl of black neighborhoods largely hidden from the history books, a shadow community where a unique, street-smart justice prevails,” according to David L. Ulin in The Los Angeles Times Book Review.
Critics have cited Mosley’s superior storytelling, taut plotting, vivid style and authentic dialogue. In his character of “Easy Rawlins,” Mosley depicts a black man working within the narrow confines of inner city black districts. As a result, his series centers on characters rather than classic crime investigation. Even his secondary characters, the “riff raff and good time pals,” as Mosley calls them, deserve his full and vibrant attention.
Having published more than 30 books in a variety of genres – from mystery fiction to science fiction, politics to memoir – Mosley excels at featuring “conflicted protagonists making their way through American society.” Publisher’s Weekly has called him an “extraordinary storyteller” while The New York Times Book Review praised him for narrating his characters’ “rough lives with a gentle voice.” In addition to his “Easy Rawlins” series, he has created three other detective fiction series featuring characters “Socrates Fortlow,” “Fearless Jones” and “Leonid McGill.” His stand-alone novels include RL’s Dream, published in 1995; Fortunate Son (2006); and The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (2010). His science fiction novels include The Wave (2006) and the futuristic duo, The Gift of Fire and On the Head of a Pin (2012).
The son of a black school custodian and a white mother of Russian-Jewish descent, Mosley grew up listening to her tales of old Jewish culture and Russian czars and his father’s stories of violence, partying and drinking in Texas. He received his B.A. degree from Johnson State College (Vermont) in 1977, and earned a M.A. from the City College of City University of New York in 1991, where he went on to found the publishing degree program. He has been the artist-in-resident of New York University’s Africana Studies Institute (1996) and a member of the board of directors of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the National Book Awards and the TransAfrica Forum.
A novelist, essayist, critic and filmmaker, Mosley has won the Literary Award for Fiction from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association in 1996 for RL’s Dream; the O. Henry Award in 1996 for the short story, “The Thief;” and the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA in 2004.
“Easy Rawlins” Detective Series
E = e-book
L = large print
A = CD audiobook
Ac = Cassette audiobook
P = Playaway
Ea = e-audiobook
“Socrates Fortlow” Detective Series
“Fearless Jones” Detective Series
“Leonid McGill” Detective Series
“Crosstown to Oblivion” Series