Even readers unfamiliar with the Last Poets' historic significance as building blocks of the hip-hop and rap movement, will instantly find this novel a compelling read.
The Last Poets were self-proclaimed prophets of "hope and change." The band was formed in 1968 against an incendiary backdrop of the black power movement and murders of Martin Luther King, Kennedy and Malcolm X. Today their socio-political lyrics have a renewed sense of urgency, rallying loud and clear against the fear-based politics of the Trump era.
Christine Otten spent three months travelling across the United States interviewing members of the Last Poets, their families, friends, and musicians. She describes their impoverished childhoods, their love lives, successes and failures in this beautifully written, sensuously swinging, biopic-style novel.
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About the AuthorChristine Otten is a Dutch writer, journalist, and performer. The Last Poets was nominated for the prestigious Dutch Libris Literature Prize, and has been adapted for the stage. Otten regularly performs at literary festivals and in theaters. She holds writing workshops in Amsterdam for the homeless and for prisoners.
"Otten imagines the Last Poets as modern Romantics whose personal histories, performance styles and Afro-diasporic musical roots provide access to a sublime black aesthetic." --New York Times Book Review
"This novel captures the lives and voices of a group of poets and musicians who emerged from the black nationalist movements of the late 1960s and served as important precursors to rap and hip-hop. Otten, a Dutch journalist, tracked down members of the group to tell this textured story about an era of anger and change." --New York Times
"Christine Otten dives in the middle of their world and describes it from the inside." --Herman Koch, author of The Dinner
"The Last Poets' fierce performance poetry inspired generations of musicians, even as they destroyed themselves. Now they're back--and as relevant as ever." --The Guardian
"From Dutch writer and journalist Christine Otten comes a compelling, accessible portrait of hip-hop pioneers the Last Poets. Capturing the dogma of 'hope and change' fostered by the book's extraordinary subjects, this fluidly biographical story traverses every facet of the artists' lives while artfully traversing the politically and emotionally charged terrain of the Black Power movement." --World Literature Today
"Otten's book is more than just a straight-forward novel. It charts the complex past of one of the most exciting and influential acts in the history of music." --The Wee Review, Edinburgh International Book Festival
"A white Dutch author and African-American poet have bonded over troubled fathers. The secret to fiction is humility towards your characters." --Irish Times
"With this audacious book she has succeeded in delivering a literary piece that resembles the ingenuity of a well-composed piece of music. The book throbs through your body long after you have finished reading it." --Dutch Foundation for Literature