5 Questions with Ayize Jama-Everett

liminal war entropy of bones

Very excited to be welcoming Ayize Jama-Everett to City Lights Bookstore this Wednesday. Ayize is celebrating two new publications from Small Beer Press (out of Easthampton, MA), both staff favorites at City Lights. He answered our 5 questions below.

Event: Wednesday, September 16, 7:00PM at City Lights Bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133.

Ayize Jama-Everett celebrating the release of two new books, The Entropy of Bones & The Liminal War: A Novel both from Small Beer Press.

About the Books: Entropy of Bones is a Liminal People novel. A young martial artist finds there is more to the world than she can kick, more than she can see. Chabi doesn’t realize her martial arts master may not be on the side of the gods. She does know he’s changed her from being an almost invisible kid to one that anyone—or at least anyone smart—should pay attention to. But attention from the wrong people can mean more trouble than even she can handle. Chabi might be emotionally stunted. She might have no physical voice. She doesn’t communicate well with words, but her body is poetry.

The Liminal War is a propulsive novel that starts with a kidnapping in London and takes off running. Taggert is a man with a questionable past and the ability to hurt or heal with his thoughts alone. When his adopted daughter goes missing, he immediately suspects the hand of an old enemy. In order to find her, Taggert assembles a team of friends, family, and new allies who don’t quite trust he has left his violent times behind. But their search leads them to an unexpected place: the past.

“It’s been a long wait since Jama-Everett’s 2009 debut, The Liminal People, but the same raw wattage that lit up healer/killer Taggert’s epic introduction to his daughter, Tamara, and his split with his sociopathic mentor, Nordeen, is at work in this rich, dense sequel. This episode opens with a characteristic blast of pure psychic chaos from Tamara, who’s discovered that Prentis, a child Taggert calls ‘mine by choice,’ has disappeared from the sensory realm commanded by superpowered liminals like Taggert’s family. Taggert’s sure that Prentis isn’t dead, but beyond that he’s stumped. His lover, Samantha, guides him to the Rasta-tinged commune of London’s Eel Pie Island, where he encounters the avatar of a four-billion-year-old vegetable god who allies with him in the search. And that’s just the first 30 pages. Jama-Everett writes with such cyclonic energy and verbal legerdemain that occasionally the plot has to be taken on faith, but the noir-infused verve of the telling makes it all work.”
Publishers Weekly

ayizeAbout the Author: Ayize Jama-Everett was born in 1974 and raised in Harlem, New York. Since then he has traveled extensively in Northern Africa, New Hampshire, and Northern California. He holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s in Divinity. He teaches religion and psychology at Starr King School for the Ministry when he’s not working as a school therapist at the College Preparatory School. He is the author of three novels, The Liminal People, The Liminal War, and The Entropy of Bones, as well as an upcoming graphic novel with illustrator John Jennings entitled Box of Bones. When not educating, studying, or beating himself up for not writing enough, he’s usually enjoying aged rums and practicing his aim.

City Lights: If you’ve been to City Lights before, what’s your memory of the visit?

Ayize Jama-Everett: First time I came to City lights I was sixteen years old and had just finished reading “America” by Ginsberg. I was visiting California from the East Coast for the summer and was guided, almost by voices, to City lights. The near history of North Beach, Ferlinghetti, and the streets of San Francisco infected me to such a degree that I would move to the West Coast not a full three years later.

CL: If your book had a soundtrack, what would it be?

AJE: For The Liminal War, check this site. In terms of Entropy of Bones, let’s say it would be a lot of Ol’ Dirty Bastard starting with “Brooklyn Zoo,” more for the sentiment than for the actual location. Carolina Chocolate Drops “Hit ‘Em Up Style,” “Tical” from Method man, Mavis Staples “The Weight” and Mahalia Jackson’s “Trouble of the World,” rounded out with this dynamic and amazing duo Ibeyi.

CL: What’s the first book you actually finished reading?

AJE: Not sure about the first, but some early Sherlock Holmes got to me as a whippersnapper.

CL: If you weren’t a writer, what might you do?

AJE: Make money.

CL: Name a few things you’d require if stranded on a desert island for an undefined period of time (and, yes, no wifi). 

AJE: The ability to think, laugh, eat, you know those homeostatic things. If I’m on an island I’m hoping I can score some fish and coconuts. After that, I’m good. I’m a simple man who focuses on simple pleasures.


Ayize Jama-Everett will be celebrating both The Liminal War and The Entropy of Bones at City Lights this Wednesday at 7PM. Find his books at City Lights, from Small Beer Press, or at your local independent bookseller.

For more about Ayize and the Liminal series, follow him on Tumblr.

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