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Sat, 01.12.1952

Walter Mosley, Novelist, born

Walter Mosley

*Walter Mosley was born on this date in1952. He is a Black novelist, most widely recognized for his crime fiction.

Mosley grew up in the Watts and Pico-Fairfield districts of Los Angeles, the only child of a mixed-race marriage.  Mosley’s father was a Black man from the Deep South, and his mother was a white-Jewish whose parents immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe.  Mosley’s racial and ethnic heritage provided him with a multifaceted understanding of prejudice as well as the importance of cultural tradition.  He attended Goddard College and graduated from Johnson State College in Vermont in 1977, and he became a computer programmer.

In 1982 he moved to New York City with his future wife, Joy Kellman, a white-Jewish woman.  They were married five years later, in 1987. During this time, Mosley rekindled his love of reading and writing, which came to a height when he read The Color Purple by Alice Walker. He stopped working in order to attend the City College of New York and devote his life to being an author.

Mosley has written over 20 books in various genres, including non-mystery fiction, afrofuturist science fiction, and non-fiction politics, and has been translated into 21 languages. Mosley's fame increased in 1992 when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton, a fan of murder mysteries, named Mosley as one of his favorite authors. Two of his books have been made into films or television specials; his first published book, Devil in a Blue Dress, became a 1995 movie starring Denzel Washington.

Mosley is the winner of numerous awards, including the Anisfield Wolf Award, an honor given to works that increase the appreciation and understanding of race in America. He was a finalist for the NAACP Award in Fiction and won the 1996 Black Caucus of the American Library Association's Literary Award for RL's Dream.  He was an O. Henry Award winner in 1996 (for a Socrates Fortlow story). In 2005 the Sundance Institute gave him a "Risktaker Award" for his creative and activist efforts. In 2006 he was the first recipient of the Carl Brandon Society Parallax Award for his young adult novel.

Mosley holds an honorary doctorate from the City College of New York, is on the Board of Trustees for Goddard College, and has served on the board of directors of the National Book Awards.

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