22 August 2013

NEW READ | Buck: A Memoir by MK Asante (2013)

Asante, M.K. (2013). Buck: A memoir. NY: Spiegel & Grau.
ISBN-13: 978-0812993417 | Hardcover | $25.00 USD

This memoir promises to be one of the most revered life stories depicting a contemporary young male coming-of-age in urban America, since Claude Brown's Manchild of the Promised Land and Piri Thomas' Down These Mean Streets. Author MK Asante is son of the founder of Afrocentricity, the legendary Black Studies scholar, Molefi Keti Asante

Born in Zimbabwe and raised in North Philadelphia, MK Asante paints a gripping portrait of what it means to be an American Black man coming of age in the streets of hip hop era Philadelphia. Asante is honest in his revelations of how family issues are often the "whys" for teens finding solace and identity in the streets. For those of us who follow the genre of Urban Literature, Asante's story is a welcome addition to the canon. Shucks, given its early stellar reception, this book may shove comparisons aside, to stand valiantly, on its own.

I particularly like the early review of Pierce Freelon (via Amazon.com) where he says: "MK has a fascinating story. His father is a famous scholar - the founder of Afrocentricity. His mother is drowning in prescription drugs and a broken household. His sister lives with dementia - literally in another universe. His role model is his older brother Uzi - constantly on the run from the law. And then you have Philly - the City of Brotherly Love - full of dime jawns, blunt smoke, hip hop, broken schools and young bucks. It takes [a] village to raise a child - and MK was BUCK wild!"

Book Description:
A rebellious boy’s journey through the wilds of urban America and the shrapnel of a self-destructing family—this is the riveting story of a generation told through one dazzlingly poetic new voice.

MK Asante was born in Zimbabwe to American parents: a mother who led the new nation’s dance company and a father who would soon become a revered pioneer in black studies. But things fell apart, and a decade later MK was in America, a teenager lost in a fog of drugs, sex, and violence on the streets of North Philadelphia. Now he was alone—his mother in a mental hospital, his father gone, his older brother locked up in a prison on the other side of the country—and forced to find his own way to survive physically, mentally, and spiritually, by any means necessary.

Buck is a powerful memoir of how a precocious kid educated himself through the most unconventional teachers—outlaws and eccentrics, rappers and mystic strangers, ghetto philosophers and strippers, and, eventually, an alternative school that transformed his life with a single blank sheet of paper. It’s a one-of-a-kind story about finding your purpose in life, and an inspiring tribute to the power of education, art, and love to heal and redeem us.

Additionally, MK Asante is a poet, with two poetry books to his credit: Beautiful. And Ugly Too (2005) and Like Water Running Off My Back (2002). He's also previously published a treatise on Hip Hop entitled, It's Bigger Than Hip Hop: The Rise of the Post-Hip Hop Generation (2009). For more information on his publications, visit his website at: http://mkasante.com/books/buck/.  Asante is an Associate Professor at Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD.


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