Saturday, February 21, 2015

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz

Fifty years ago today, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (aka Malcolm Little and most notably, Malcolm X) was gunned down prior to speaking to the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  He was an influential man in America's history, serving as a human rights activist, in particular for the rights of Black Americans.  Most of what we know of this man begins after he was released from prison and became the leader that he was known for.  What led up to his time in prison can sometimes be a mystery, but can also be a window into the man that he would become.  He daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz attempts to shine a light onto her father's memory by providing readers with X:  A Novel.  Though her story is fictionalized, it also rings in large part of fact and biography, creating quite an unique read.

Malcolm was the fourth child born to Early and Louise Little.  At the young age of six, his father died under very suspicious circumstances.  At thirteen, his mother was committed to a mental institution.  Even before being separated from his mother, Malcolm was moved into foster homes.  At school, he was popular and smart, but he was prone to trouble.  He soon moved to Boston with his half-sister, hoping a change in scenery would be good for him.  It was here that the trouble grew, involving drugs, hustling, sex, and more.  The trouble moved with him to Harlem, and finally back to Boston before he landed himself into too much trouble.

Malcolm's story is not an easy one to read.  It reflects the difficult times that people faced during his lifetime, particularly African Americans.  However, I think it is a story that needs to be heard.  We need to step into Malcolm's shoes for a moment to get a better understanding of his life and times.

At the end of the book, Shabazz details the information that she fictionalized and that she took liberties with.  My interpretation is that the bones and much of the meat of Malcolm's story is still very much present.  And, it can be very eye-opening, both for Malcolm's own history in creating the man that he would become as well as the history of our own nation.

The end of the novel also includes a number of additional extras for the reader, all of which must be read to better understand the story.  One section is a list of additional recommended reads.  X has served as my gatekeeper and I cannot wait to dive into many of the suggestions, both fiction and nonfiction alike.

Have you had the opportunity to meet the young Malcolm in X?  What other reading suggestions might you have on Malcolm X and/or the civil rights movement?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you in advance for your comments! I love to hear reader's thoughts and respond to each one within the comment section. Please feel free to subscribe to the comment feed to ensure you can fully participate in the conversations.

Comments on posts older than 14 days are first approved through comment moderation. Word verification should not be turned on, so please notify me if it randomly appears.