Not since Richard Wright’s Native Son has the education of a young man been rendered as daringly, defiantly, and emotionally galvanizingly as in Murad Kalam’s Night Journey.
Night Journey is the story of Eddie Bloodpath, beautiful, oversized, awkward child of South Phoenix’s Third Ward. Hefty and handsome, quiet and strong like his long-lost father, Eddie is the good son, seemingly immune to the powerful pull of the streets. His older brother, Turtle — a frail, stuttering, grammar school dropout who was born to hustle — isn’t convinced that Eddie will stay out of trouble. Acting on instinct, Turtle plucks Eddie from the brink of the urban abyss and delivers him to the boxing gym.
A perpetual innocent and reluctant pugilist, Eddie is adopted by a rogues’ gallery of melancholy prizefighters, artful hustlers, strung-out mystics, pubescent crack lords, and drunken burnouts. He falls in love with Tessa, a hauntingly beautiful prostitute with whom he shares an unspeakable secret. Waiting in the wings is Marchalina, Eddie’s high school crush, a privileged, bookish, North Phoenix girl who could save him from his worst instincts.
When a senseless murder and its aftermath send Eddie running from the sun-washed landscape of the American Southwest, he tries to fight his way to safety — first in Chicago, at the national amateur competition, and then in the surreal underworld of Las Vegas professional boxing. Rushing pell-mell toward manhood, Eddie must discover where his true allegiances lie.
An American odyssey, Night Journey is a first novel equally remarkable for its raw power and wise empathy, borne up by Murad Kalam’s unshakable belief in the ultimate grace of humanity.
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