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James Kilgore reads from his edgy new noir novel, “Prudence Couldn’t Swim”
Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Author James Kilgore reads from and discusses “Prudence Couldn’t Swim,” the newest addition to the PM Press’s, Switchblade — a noir imprint showcasing the grittiest in new work, illuminating the lamentably unavailable classics in the genre, and highlighting the shadows on the margins of the dark end of the street.
Set in Oakland, CA, white ex-convict Cal Winter returns home one day to find his gorgeous, young wife, Prudence, drowned in the swimming pool. Prudence couldn’t swim and Cal concludes she didn’t go in the water willingly. Though theirs was a marriage of convenience, he takes the murder personally. Along with his prison homie Red Eye, Cal sets out to find out who did Prudence in. His convoluted and often darkly humorous journey takes him deep into the world of the sexual urges of the rich and powerful, and gradually reveals the many layers of his wife’s complex identity. While doing so, Cal and Red Eye must confront their own racially charged pasts if the killer is to be caught.
Author James Kilgore has woven together strands of his own quixotic and complicated life—twenty-seven years as a political fugitive, two decades as a teacher in Africa, and six years in prison—into a heady tale of mystery and consequences.
“James Kilgore is a masterful writer, and as a US activist who has lived in Africa most of his adult life, Kilgore is able to connect us to politics and culture as no other writer. This character driven mystery promises to find a devoted following.”
–Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War.
“James Kilgore’s writing is a refreshing blend of literary talent and political insight ; something sorely missing from much of the fiction penned by writers on the Left. His wit, swift pacing, and dead-on characterization are skillfully woven into an unflinching vision for radical change and social justice. So often we are told that a commitment to radical change and a rollicking good read mix like oil and water. Along comes Kilgore to put that lie to rest!”
–Frank B. Wilderson III, Author of Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid, Winner American Book Award,2008
James Kilgore was a 1960s political activist in California, who ultimately became involved with the Symbionese Liberation Army. In 1975, he fled a Federal explosives charge and remained a fugitive for 27 years. During that time, he rejected the politics of small group violence and built a life as an educator, researcher, activist, parent and husband in Southern Africa. Using the pseudonym of John Pape, he earned a Ph.D. and authored a number of academic articles and educational materials and co-edited the acclaimed 2002 anthology: Crisis of Service Delivery in South Africa (HSRC, Cape Town and Zed Press, London). Authorities arrested Kilgore in November 2002 and extradited him to California where he served six and a half years in state and Federal prison. While incarcerated, he worked as a teachers’ assistant and also completed the drafts of eight novels and a screenplay. Umuzi Publishers (Cape Town) released his first work, We Are All Zimbabweans Now, in June of 2009. Two of his subsequent novels are contracted for release in 2011, Prudence Couldn’t Swim (PM Press, Oakland, CA) and Freedom Never Rests: A Novel of Democracy in South Africa (Jacana Media, Johannesburg).
He presently lives with his family in Illinois where he is a Research Scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of Illinois.