Sunny Hostin

A Civil Rights Leader Lives On in Fiction

Ashley Macadam/Michael Priest Photography

January 8, 2015 - At the launch of X: A Novel, moderator Sunny Hostin joined authors Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon to discuss the novel about Malcolm X as a teen at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Among the topics addressed was how Shabazz’s father’s legacy might be misunderstood. Shabazz said: “Because we forget about the social climate, the church bombings, all that, when he is seen in clips he is reacting to these events... but he genuinely wanted justice for everyone.” Magoon added that she hopes that the book will give readers a “broader sense of who he was,” adding in light of recent events, “the kids protesting in Ferguson could read his words and be inspired to action.”

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About 'X: A Novel'

This fictionalized account of the boy who became Malcolm X maintains a suspenseful, poetic grip as it shifts among moments in his life between the years 1930 and 1948. The first-person, present-tense narrative emphasizes the experiences that affected Malcolm from early childhood to his eventual imprisonment. Memories, such as a favorite teacher telling him, “Be as good as you want in the classroom, but out those doors, you’re just a nigger,” or his sighting of a lynched man, trigger a sense of hopelessness that leads to self-destructive choices.

Significant people in Malcolm’s life offer different messages: his white lover, Sophia, fears being seen with him, while his siblings believe he has the potential for greatness. Shabazz (Growing Up X), one of Malcolm X’s daughters, and Magoon (How It Went Down) capture Malcolm’s passion for new experiences, the defeatism that plagued him, and the long-buried hope that eventually reclaimed him. Author notes expand on historical context and the facts behind this compelling coming-of-age story. Ages 14–up.

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