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About Julius Lester
Born in 1939, Julius Lester spent his youth in the Midwest and the South and received a B.A. in English from Fisk University in 1960.Since 1968 he has published 25 books of fiction, nonfiction, children's books, and poetry. Among the awards these books have received are the Newbery Honor Medal, American Library Association Notable Book, National Jewish Book Award Finalist, The New York Times Outstanding Book, National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, Caldecott Honor Book, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and a National Book Award Finalist. His books have been translated into eight languages.He has published more than one hundred essays and reviews in such publications The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Op-Ed Page, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, The New Republic, Katallagete, Moment, Forward, and Dissent.He has recorded two albums of original songs, hosted and produced a radio show on WBAI-FM in New York City for eight years, and hosted a live television show on WNET in New York for two years. A veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, his photographs of that movement are included in an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution and are part of the permanent photographic collection at Howard University.After teaching at the New School for Social Research for two years, Mr. Lester joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts/Amherst in 1971 where he is presently a full professor in the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Department, and adjunct professor in the English and History departments. He also serves as lay religious leader of Beth El Synagogue in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.He has been awarded all four of the university's most prestigious faculty awards: The Distinguished Teacher's Award; the Faculty Fellowship Award for Distinguished Research and Scholarship; Distinguished Faculty Lecturer; and recipient of the Chancellor's Medal, the University's highest honor. In 1986 the Council for Advancement and Support of Education selected him as the Massachusetts State Professor of the Year.Mr. Lester's biography has appeared in Who's Who In America since 1970. He has given lectures and papers at more than 100 colleges and universities.His most recent books are John Henry, And All Our Wounds Forgiven, a novel about the civil rights movement, and Othello, a novel based on the Shakespeare play.
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As war rages between Venice and Turkey, Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army, is determined to lead his men to victory with his trusted ensign, Iago. But, after being passed up for a promotion, Iago has plans of his own. Using the general’s wife, Desdemona, as a pawn, Iago spins an elaborate web of deception. Once he has Othello where he wants him, revenge will be his.
One of Shakespeare’s most performed tragedies, Othello’s themes of racism, revenge, and betrayal continue to resonate, as does its most tantalizing and arguable question: What makes Iago so unconscionably evil?
Revised edition: Previously published as Othello, this edition of Othello (AmazonClassics Edition) includes editorial revisions.
"This wonderful book should be a first choice for all collections and is strongly recommended as a springboard for discussions about differences.” —School Library Journal (starred review)
In this acclaimed book, the author of the Newbery Honor Book To Be a Slave shares his own story as he explores what makes each of us special. A strong choice for sharing at home or in the classroom.
Karen Barbour's dramatic, vibrant paintings speak to the heart of Lester's unique vision, truly a celebration of all of us. "This stunning picture book introduces race as just one of many chapters in a person's story" (School Library Journal). "Lester's poignant picture book helps children learn, grow, discuss, and begin to create a future that resolves differences" (Children's Literature).
Julius Lester said: "I write because our lives are stories. If enough of these stories are told, then perhaps we will begin to see that our lives are the same story. The differences are merely in the details."
I am a story. So are you. So is everyone.
Growing up in the turbulent civil rights era South, Lester was often discouraged by the disconnectedness between the promises of religion and the realities of his life. He used the outlets available to him to try to come to grips with this split and somehow reconcile the injustices he was witnessing with the purity of religion. He became a controversial writer and commentator, siding with neither blacks nor whites in his unconventional viewpoints. He became a luminal figure of the times, outside of the conventional labels of race, religion, politics, or philosophy.
Lester’s spiritual quest would take him through the existential landscape of his Southern, Christian upbringing, into his ancestry, winding through some of the holiest places on the planet and into the spiritual depths of the world’s major religious cultures. His odyssey of faith would unexpectedly lead him to discovering Judaism as his true spiritual calling.
Rebecca Nachman is a Rabbi without a synagogue. Having resigned from her dwindling congregation, she now works as a college counselor at a small Vermont college advising students about private matters and offering the "Jewish perspective" on issues raised at faculty dinner parties.
Deeply lonely and on the edge of losing her faith, she comes into possession of a Torah, the last relic of Czechowa, a village of Polish Jews who were exterminated by the Nazis. With the Torah, the unquiet spirits of the village dead begin to visit Rebecca. On one visit they leave a manuscript written in Hebrew and titled My Life, an autobiography by God who, like any eager author, is seeking a sympathetic reader. No one has ever finished reading the manuscript, including Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Maimonides, and Augustine. God thinks Rebecca will.
Rebecca's life is further complicated when one of her advisees-a troubled young woman who seemed on the verge of confessing something-is found murdered. As the college struggles to comprehend the tragedy and a police investigation is launched, Rebecca begins reading, and so comes to confront the central challenge to her faith in His most troubling and unlikely incarnation.
Julius Lester's first adult novel in more than a decade, The Autobiography of God marks the return of an utterly original and provocative voice in American letters, addressing religion with wicked humor and profound reverence.
Jenna and Jeremy knew their parents’ marriage was in trouble. That was pretty obvious. But no one who knew the family could have predicted what would come next. One afternoon, Jenna and Jeremy are pulled from class and given horrifying news: their father, a college psychologist, has just shot their mother to death on a public street.
Now, Mom is dead, Dad is in jail, and a fifth-grade boy and his fourteen-year-old sister have a lot to reconcile. Not only grief, anger, confusion, and guilt—but their dad’s motive, the secrets in their mother’s diary, and shifting loyalties that are driving Jenna and Jeremy even further apart. With their fragile new lives in free fall, and their father about to stand trial, they’re now going to have to confront the unimaginable.
From an author who has been a finalist for the National Book Award, among numerous other honors, this is “a compelling story suffused with raw and honest emotion” (Kirkus Reviews) and “a taut psychological mystery” (Publishers Weekly).
This is the story of Cupid--the god responsible for heartache, sleepless nights, and all those silly love songs—finally getting his comeuppance. When the god of love falls in love himself, things are bound to get interesting. And when he crosses his mama, Venus, in the process . . . Well, things could get downright messy.
The much-lauded author of Pharaoh's Daughter and When Dad Killed Mom brings his renowned storytelling skills to one of the world's most famous tales. In doing so he weaves a romantic, hilarious drama brought to life with a bold new voice that's loaded with sly wisdom. Julius Lester's retelling is sure to draw new readers to classic mythology while satisfying old fans as well.
There are times when a tree can no longer withstand the pain inflicted on it, and the wind will take pity on that tree and topple it over in a mighty storm. All the other trees who witnessed the evil look down upon the fallen tree with envy. They pray for the day when a wind will end their suffering.
I pray for the day when God will end mine.
In a time and place without moral conscience, fourteen-year-old Ansel knows what is right and what is true.
But it is dangerous to choose honesty, and so he chooses silence.
Now an innocent man is dead, and Ansel feels the burden of his decision. He must also bear the pain of losing a friend, his family, and the love of a lifetime.
Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honoree Julius Lester delivers a haunting and poignant novel about what happens when one group of people takes away the humanity of another.
In a gray fieldstone house in Nashville, Tennessee, the Reverend Joshua Smith Sr.--the staunch and gentle man known to thousands in black churches throughout the South as the Singing Evangelist and to one white reporter as "the Colored Billy Graham"--is trying to compose his own obituary on what will be the last day of his life. In doing so, he looks back over that life--from his childhood in rural northern Mississippi to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, from tears of humiliation to songs of celebration and triumph.
When Do Lord Remember Me was first published in 1984, the Chicago Sun-Times compared it to Alex Haley's Roots, Newsday described it as "exquisitely crafted," People as "distinguished," the Philadelphia Inquirer as "riveting," and the Cleveland Plain-Dealer declared "every page has something worth remembering." Thirty years later and now a classic, Julius Lester's Do Lord Remember Me is an eloquent and deeply moving story about a black family's dignified struggle for survival.
A boy sent by an African god to tend the spirits of the dead struggles to fulfill his duty from within the bonds of slavery in Time's Memory, by National Book Award finalist Julius Lester.
Amma is the creator god, the master of life and death, and he is worried. His people have always known how to take care of the spirits of the dead – the nyama – so that they don't become destructive forces among the living. But amid the chaos of the African slave trade and the brutality of American slavery, too many of his people are dying and their souls are being ignored in this new land.
Amma sends a young man, Ekundayo, to a plantation in Virginia where he becomes a slave on the eve of the Civil War. Amma hopes that Ekundayo will be able to find a way to bring peace to the nyama before it is too late. But Ekundayo can see only sorrow in this land – sorrow in the ownership of people, in the slaves who have been separated from their children and spouses, in the restless spirits of the dead, and in his own forbidden relationship with his master's daughter.
How Ekundayo finds a way to bring peace to both the dead and the living makes this an unforgettable journey into the slave experience and Newbury Honor author Julius Lester's most powerful work to date.
Time's Memory is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.