Walker, Persia 1957-
WALKER, Persia 1957-
Home—Munich, Germany. Agent—Julie Castiglia, Castiglia Literary Agency, 1155 Camino del Mar, Suite 510, Del Mar, CA 92014. E-mail—[email protected].
Writer. Radio station reporter and anchor in Chambersburg, PA; CNN, New York, NY, freelance writer; Associated Press, Washington, DC, New York, reporter, 1987-88; Radio Free Europe, Munich, Germany, reporter, 1988-1990s.
Shifting Ground, iUniverse (Lincoln, NE), 2000.
Harlem Redux, iUniverse (Lincoln, NE), 2000, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
Persia Walker was born in New York City, and after a number of media jobs, she went to work at the world desk of the Associated Press in New York. When she learned that the usual wait for an overseas assignment was five years, she left to accept a job with Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany, in 1988. Walker witnessed and reported on the demise of the East bloc and fall of the Berlin Wall, and when Radio Free Europe closed the Munich office in the 1990s, Walker chose to stay and write fiction.
Walker's first novel, the mystery Shifting Ground, was self-published, as was her second, Harlem Redux, which she began writing in 1998. The latter was put aside before its completion, however, when Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a year of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and concentrating on getting well, she picked it up and finished it in 2000. Walker published just a small number of copies, then, at the urging of a friend, submitted it to an agent, and it was ultimately picked up by Simon & Schuster.
The story, called a "highly competent murder mystery" by a Publishers Weekly reviewer, is set during the Harlem Renaissance, a period of history in which Walker has a deep interest. It is about a black civil rights attorney who is returning to New York after three years of hiding to escape the wrath of those who have targeted him for his work in the South. David McKay, who also served in France during World War I, comes home to the upscale Harlem neighborhood of Striver's Row following the suicide of his sister, Lilian.
David digs into the mystery of why his proper and conservative sister would hang out with gangsters in seedy bars, and he visits these friends and haunts in trying to determine the real reason for her death, following which her wealth fell into the hands of her shady attorney husband, Jameson Sweet. The Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Walker "slyly taunts and teases readers with her shrewdly rendered characters." They include twin sister Gem, a cabaret singer who despises Jameson, a crime figure, and an old sweetheart who tells David that they had a daughter, unknown to him, who died of tuberculosis.
David's search takes him from the heights of Harlem society to the deepest pockets of poverty, during which time he must conceal his own secret, one that could destroy him.
African American Literature Book Club's Thumper, who called Walker "an exciting new voice in literature," said that she "busts on the literary scene burnin' rubber and smokin' with her debut.… Harlem Redux is a pip of a novel, classy, smart, and fascinating."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, July-August, 2002, Sadeqa Johnson, review of Harlem Redux, p. 35.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of Harlem Redux, p. 524.
Publishers Weekly, June 3, 2002, review of Harlem Redux, p. 64.
Writer's Digest, October, 2002, Jerry Jackson, Jr., "First Success," p. 30.
African American Literature Book Club,http://reviews.aalbc.com/ (January 8, 2003), Thumper, review of Harlem Redux.
Persia Walker (author Web site), http://www.persiawalker.com/ (November 18, 2003).*