Walter Mosley is best known for his mysteries, especially Easy Rawlins the famed L.A. detective. He is a master of noir, but I am more certain that readers a hundred years in the future will be reading The Awkward Black Manhis recent collection of short stories than even “Devil in a Blue Dress.”

There are seventeen short stories in this collection and there is an awkward Black man in each one of them. The stories are rich in empathy and human understanding. In one story, a man dies hating another man so much that he awakes to discover himself haunting the man he hated, but the haunting is certainly harder on him than on the man he haunted. Another story tells of a man with tremendous promise who ends up homeless and begging on the street, but there is so much more to him that on the surface.

More than what is on the surface seems to be the thread uniting these stories. The men sometimes seem very simple on the surface but are much more complex.

These stories are subtle. A man is told “People are so afraid of dying that they don’t even live the little bit of life they have,” so he smokes a cigarette on a bet. From that small action, reactions reverberate through the rest of his life. In another, you think you’re reading a romance and suddenly it’s a sci-fi revolution. One of the more fascinating and heartbreaking is “After the Storm” when a man decides he simply cannot leave his apartment, frightened of all the dangers of modern life. But somehow rather than seeing him as an agoraphobe, the world decides he is a new prophet, but that just makes him depressed.

I loved The Awkward Black Man. I like short stories and Mosley is one of the best. In a sentence or two, he creates an entire world. His stories are rich and complex. While the plots vary widely, they are all empathetic and in love with humanity. This is why when I see a new Walter Mosley book, I get excited.

I received an e-galley of The Awkward Black Man from the publisher through Edelweiss

Story Titles

  • The Good News Is
  • Pet Fly
  • Almost Alyce
  • Starting Over
  • Leading from the Affair
  • Cut, Cut, Cut
  • Between Storms
  • The Black Woman in the Chinese Hat
  • Local Hero
  • Otis
  • Showdown on the Hudson
  • Breath
  • Reply to a Dead Man
  • The Letter
  • Haunted
  • The Sin of Dreams
  • An Unlikely Series of Conversations