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Walter Mosley
Walter Mosley
 Social Commentator
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Walter Mosley
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Novelist and social commentator Walter Mosley is one of the most powerful and prolific writers working in any genre today. He is the author of more than 40 books, ranging from the crime novel to literary fiction, nonfiction, political essay, young adult, and science fiction. The New York Review of Books called him "a literary master as well as a master of mystery," and The Boston Globe declared him “one of the nation's finest writers." 

Mosley’s fiction tracks the African American experience from the migration from the Deep South to post-Obama election-era New York City. His characters are the sorts of "fully formed, complex black men who have been absent from much of contemporary literature,” he says.

Several of Mosley's books have been adapted for film and television, with new projects in development at FX, Cinemax, and HBO. To adapt his works for television and feature films, Mosley teamed up with producer Diane Houslin to create his own production house, Best of Brooklyn Filmhouse.  With over a dozen entries, his Easy Rawlins detective series began with Devil in a Blue Dress, which was made into a feature film starring Denzel Washington. His latest Rawlins mystery, Charcoal Joe, was released in June 2016. 

His upcoming novel, Down the River Unto the Sea, centers on a former New York City police detective turned Brooklyn PI, and is slated for a February 2018 release.

Of his latest Leonid McGill book, And Sometimes I Wonder About You, The Boston Globe said, "A poignantly real character, [McGill is] not only the newest of the great fictional detectives, but also an incisive and insightful commentator on the American scene.” 

Mosley’s nonfiction, such as Folding the Red into the Black; Twelve Steps Toward Political Revelation and Life Out of Context, examines contributions to economic inequality, politics, and justice in America. An editorial board member of The Nation, he conceived “Ten Things,” a monthly feature connecting readers to opportunities for advocacy and activism. 

Since 2010 Mosley has written four plays, including The Fall of Heaven, White Lilies, and Lift, and is developing a fifth based on his novel, Devil in a Blue Dress.

The first African-American to serve on the board of directors of the National Book Awards, Mosley has received an O’Henry Award, The Sundance Risktaker Award, a Grammy, and two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work. In 2016, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual Edgar Awards and was named the first African-American “Grand Master” by the Mystery Writers of America.

Full Bio >
  • Walter Mosley: Triumph of Love
  • Mosley's keynote address at Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration (2011)
  • Mosley talks his book "Charcoal Joe" on Tavis Smiley
  • Writing Mystery Novels, Political Revelation, Racism and Pushing Obama
  • Walter Mosley Shares the Key to Success in a Divided America
  • Author Walter Mosley Drops Wisdom on Literature, Activism, and More
  • Walter Mosley: 2015 National Book Festival
  • Mosley accepts Liberty Hill's Upton Sinclair Award (2010)
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Speaking Topics
Political Optimism in the Age of Trump

For the first time in a long time there is – in the hearts and minds of the people of the United States of America–  the will and the potential to become full-fledged Citizens.

Barack Obama’s presidency was an historic one – he was a leader of change and a true friend of the people. But under his tenure, we as citizens became complacent. Even after eight years, there has been little lasting impact on our people, our politics, our bank accounts, or our futures. We have 2.8 million people in prison, most of them people of color, with another 2.8 million released but on the path to recidivism. We are still in Asia and the Middle East fighting wars. We are still struggling for identity, equality, and a place in the world that we can be proud of. 

But with the recent election, everything has changed. 

Our beautiful republic has awakened from the poisoned sleep of business-as-usual. Our freedom is on the table and it is up to the people to take it. From women’s rights and water rights to economic rights and basic human rights, we are seeing activism everywhere. We are learning our histories. We are campaigning every day, not just once every four years. We are all being pressed – therefore we are all responding. We’re living in an age of optimism, and on the verge of real change. We are waking up. 

The threats on our rights force us to protect what we have, and question what is important. We’re cold and hungry and hunted and that means we have to use our hearts and minds, money and bodies to make a world that reflects our sense of that world. This is freedom. This is America.  

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Race and Justice in America
Untopia: An Exploration of Capitalism, Socialism, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Following his decision to leave his doctoral program in political theory 40 years ago, Walter Mosley began writing novels, infusing his fictional landscapes with the politics of the real world and allowing his characters to speak to the issues he found in society. In this speech, Mosley engages these issues directly, providing both criticism and possible solutions with the same passion, wit, and fury of his novels. Turning his attention toward the two defining economic models of the 20th century, capitalism and socialism, Mosley argues that they do not fit the social habits of humans and that we need to find something new. He calls the answer “Untopia.”

Untopia is more than a critique, it is Mosley’s attempt to say that “that we need to dismantle our misguided beliefs in fairytale-like perfection and allow our conflicted natures to develop a social and political world fit for human habitation.” In “Untopia: An Exploration of Capitalism, Socialism, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” Mosley breaks the philosophy down and builds a new way of looking at the world.

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Black Lives Matter

We all inherit and are responsible for our shared history. When prejudices and discriminatory laws bleed from generation to generation, then we have a problem that cries out for resolution. When people march under the banner “Black Lives Matter,” they fight that history. Saying “Black Lives Matter” is the throwing down of the gauntlet — it is loud and brash, daring and challenging.  

In this speech, Walter Mosley wants you to consider the fact that the “Black Lives Matter” movement might be working for you as well as for themselves, and that at the end of this glorious, bloody, beautiful, ugly, unimaginable day you may understand that the men and women declaring their value are also treasuring you.

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State of the Nation: Today's Cultural Connections & Divides

The state of the world is all in how you look at it. With a keen eye for the poetry and trepidation of the world, author Walter Mosley has filled libraries with stories, essays, and ideas about where the world has been and where it is going. But the present also matters, and in State of the Nation, Mosley divulges where we are at right now, offering his insights into what keeps the society together and what is driving it apart.

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Black Male Heroes
This Year You Write Your Novel

Fear can stop your pen in its tracks. But why let it stop you from telling your story? In This Year You Write Your Novel, author Walter Mosley helps you set a course, put pen to paper, and make the most of your year. The path to discovery is before you. It’s time to walk it.

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The Only True Race is the Human Race

The world has many different cultures, ideas, colors, and beliefs. And for generations, these differences have created conflict. They keep humanity separated, when really we’re more the same than we are different. With a simple, eloquent message, Walter Mosley has changed the conversation about race, because to him, there is only one: the human race.

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From Generation to Generation: Stories of Fathers and Sons

Walter Mosley’s two acclaimed characters, Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill, do more than solve mysteries. They offer readers a chance to see different time periods of the American landscape. Rawlins, on the beat in the Californian 60s, and McGill, a NY PI in the Clinton 90s, allow Mosley to write about the second half of the 20th century in great detail, giving both his and his father’s generation a voice.  

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Books & Other Works
  • Devil in a Blue Dress: A Novel
  • royce carlton rci speakers speeches
    Folding the Red into the Black
  • Charcoal Joe: An Easy Rawlins Mystery
  • And Sometimes I Wonder About You
  • Inside a Silver Box
  • Rose Gold
  • Twelve Steps Toward Political Revelation
  • Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore
  • Little Green
  • On the Head of a Pin
  • The Gift of Fire
  • All I Did Was Shoot My Man
  • Merge / Disciple: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion Merge
  • When the Thrill is Gone
  • The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
  • Known to Evil
  • The Long Fall
  • Best African American Essays: 2009
  • The Right Mistake: The Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow
  • The Tempest Tales
  • This Year You Write Your Novel
  • Blonde Faith
  • Fear of the Dark
  • Killing Johnny Fry
  • Fortunate Son
  • Life Out of Context
  • The Wave
  • Cinnamon Kiss
  • 47
  • Maximum Fantastic Four
  • Little Scarlet: An Easy Rawlins Mystery
  • The Man In My Basement
  • Fear Itself: A Fearless Jones Novel
  • What Next: A Memoir Toward World Peace
  • Fearless Jones
  • Walkin' the Dog
  • Workin' on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Hand of History
  • Blue Light
  • Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned
  • Black Betty
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“Both the evening talk and the breakfast event were wonderful. There were about 1000 people at the event last night, surpassing our estimates, and there were a number of people who had never attended one of our events, but came specifically to hear him. We had great feedback from the audience members. Mr. Mosley was generous with his time and was very willing to join group photos of book club members and friends who came to the programs together. Our committee thoroughly enjoyed working with him and appreciated his easy, friendly manner.”
New Castle County Libraries
“Mr. Mosley was superb! He made us laugh by mixing humor and good common sense. [He] is so cool, so eloquent and witty. He was a pleasure to work with.”
University of Wisconsin
“We had a packed house and Mr. Mosley was terrific. He was funny and engaging, serious and engaged. He took his time and showed great patience with the Q&A.”
Cleveland Public Library
“The evening with Walter Mosley was awesome! We had a full house, and the audience really connected with Mr. Mosley's message and sense of humor.”
St. Mary’s College of Maryland
“Walter was everything you could hope for in a speaker--gracious, funny, engaging, intellectually stimulating.”
The Virginia Festival of the Book
“Please thank Walter again on our behalf for an extraordinary speech, one which many will remember, and hold dear. Our audiences' response was overwhelming -- It was a terrific moment.”
Brooklyn Academy of Music
“Thank you so much for the wonderful talk you gave at Facing Race 2007. You provided the perfect combination of inspiration and reality-check to take us into our first annual conference.”
Applied Research Center
“Thank you for your visit! We could not have had a better opening for our series than your talk and conversation with the audience. We were delighted, but not surprised, that your lecture drew such a large audience. The discussion suited the theme perfectly. It was a special pleasure to hear the many people who know your books and characters so well discuss them with you. The long lines of people waiting for book signatures were a sign of engagement we don't often see at a university lecture. We were also very pleased to have such a good community presence for the event. The evening provided the kind of campus-community tie we hoped for when we planned the series.”
California State University, Long Beach
“I am extremely grateful to you for coming to the Athenaeum to speak to our students and guests. Everyone who came agrees that your visit was a high point in the semester's program.”
Claremont McKenna College
“Walter Mosley's visit was a great success. He entertained an audience of over 600 people at Friday night's reading, and taught well over 300 students in the class session on Friday morning. He was charming, wise, and very funny at both events. Everyone at Marygrove is thrilled, and so are our donors and sponsors.”
Marygove College
“We had the MOST wonderful visit with Walter Mosley...”
Scripps College
“He had the audience in the palm of his hand within five minutes. The Q&A time was outstanding. The event is one of the best and largest events the city has and he took it to a whole new level. We want very much to have him back.”
Indianapolis Marion County Public Library
“What a wonderful evening! We had over 500 in the audience (that on a night when the weather was bad). Walter signed books until 10:00 pm. All in all, we loved him.”
The Columbus Metropolitan Library
“Mr. Mosley was superb! With the Iraq crisis looming as a backdrop to our lives, Mr. Mosley gave folks a chance to voice their opinions of the current state of things. The Q and A session went very well. People were (are) hungry to discuss what's going on, and I love the way Mr. Mosley had answers but didn't want to come off as an expert on world affairs. He made sense. He made us laugh by mixing humor and good common sense.
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
“Your reading and question/answer period to more than 300 people contributed to our core objectives for this program. The Writers and Readers series is intended to expose the community to great writers, great books and to be a catalyst for community conversation around important ideas. You provided the Cleveland community with that opportunity for social interaction.
Cleveland Public Library
“Mr. Mosley’s visit to our campus was extraordinary. He attracted a large crowd from all corners of our campus and from the surrounding community. The reading was lively, and during the Q&A session, Mr. Mosley graciously and nimbly fielded questions from the audience before signing books for every single person in line. Throughout the entire evening—reading, Q&A, book signing, and dinner afterwards—Mr. Mosley was encyclopedic in his knowledge of literature, social justice, politics, and popular culture. When playing the parlor game of naming the five people you’d most like to have at a dinner party, Walter Mosley should be on everyone’s list.”
CSU Dominguez Hills
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