Six Shades of Urban Fiction | The Word on Street Lit

Sexy street lit covers often have volumes flying off shelves. Yet savvy librarians can give circulation a professional nudge by presenting the story in pithy summaries. Here then are six-word descriptions of this month’s selections. Let’s call them Six Shades of Street Lit.

  • Wild killer seeks revenge in Harlem.
  • Crazy murderess stripper seduces, slays men.
  • Memphis girl gangs offer no mercy.
  • Conspiracy? Obama, Castro, Chavez, and Tupac?
  • Woman’s life shattered. Nowhere to turn.

Pick of the Month
K’wan. Animal. Cash Money Content, dist. by Atria: S. & S.  Oct. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9781936399253. pap. $14.99.  F
K’wan’s epic “Hood Rat” series (Eviction Notice; Welfare Wifeys) about life and death on the Harlem streets focuses this time on Animal, a rapper-turned-killer whom everyone thought had been murdered. The streets are tense as the crews of King James and Shai Clark sense a major gang war is set to erupt. Cruising on the perimeter is Animal, the vicious killer who is waiting to take revenge on the shooter who tried  to kill his woman, Gucci. The author displays his writing chops by deftly constructing classic gritty scenes of torture; ruthless execution-style killings; and, of course since this is top-of-the-line street lit, several wild sex scenes. Animal shows no mercy and confides to an associate, “What does not kill me will kill them.” Indeed.
VERDICT K’wan’s ear for street slang remains sharp as his major and secondary characters spring to life. He ends his twisty intricate plot with a stunner on the very last page. K’wan is the man for urban fiction, and his fans will be clamoring for this one.

Amour. Child Support. Urban Bks. 2012. 232p. ISBN 9781601625281. pap. $14.95 F
Amour’s Frankenstein of a novel stitches together many bits and pieces of street lit. By day a receptionist at a Chicago law firm, Angel Jacobs works nights as a bartender for Vision Nightclub. At both jobs she meets sexy men. That’s the good news; the bad news is that she takes them to bed and slashes them with a machete. Yep, Angel is more than a few cards short of a full 52. As the body count mounts, she meets professional boxer Clifton Moore, an abusive guy who is in cahoots with Angel’s father who is plotting revenge on Angel from where? Jail! Clift flies her to Atlanta, but his fabulous wealth doesn’t impress our killer heroine. For some reason she’s drawn to the pole and becomes a stripper at King of Diamonds, Miami’s premier men’s club. Her flaw that’s fatal to guys? During sex she slips into another personality and in her crazed mind every guy she’s with becomes Mike, her first love who dumped her. She’s never more than an arm’s reach from a murder weapon.
VERDICT Amour tucks in many nasty sex scenes and the grisly murders have a high amount of shock value, but the stitched-together plot has many unresolved storylines that are hard to follow. Still, those crazy murders with Lorena Bobbitt-esque knife skills will stun readers who like gore mixed in with hardened sex scenes. It’s your call.

Diamond, De’Nesha. Gangsta Divas. Dafina: Kensington. Jan. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780758247599. pap. $15. F
Diamond (Street Divas) takes readers back to Memphis where the brutal gang war between the Vice Lords and Gangster Disciples rages on. At ground zero of the violence are estranged sisters Ta’Shara and LeShelle who have sworn to kill each other on sight.  Cindy Lauper had it wrong, these girls don’t wanna have fun. The sisters and their girl gangs get their high from murder and sexual hookups that challenge endurance and stamina. One girl observes what’s going on in the streets, “Off the bat, I see chicken heads, grinding on a whole lotta bustas who ain’t gonna do nuthin’ but pour liquor down they throats, bust ‘em out, and then call it a night.” Action roars at breakneck speed, and readers should get ready to cringe at many of the bloodier scenes that come across like snapshots from slasher films. There’s no quarter given here. Memphis streets, as we learn, don’t have a retirement plan.
VERDICT Nasty sex and brutal violence marks this street novel, but each chapter is narrated by a different character, which makes it difficult for readers to follow which gangsta diva is describing the action. Still, this series has loyal readers, so prepare to stock up.

Jihad. World War Gangster. Envisions Pub. Oct. 2012. 358p. ISBN 9780970610270.  pap. $14.95. F
Rising rapper star Bo Jack has become an international celebrity who’s bigger than Tupac. But what about Tupac? Jihad (MVP Reloaded; MVP; Street Life) has created a scenario in which maybe the rapper’s death was really a set up for something much bigger. Jihad weaves a tale thick with conspiracy by combining commentary on the current U.S. political atmosphere, the street cred of the hip hop world, and the alarming number of incarcerated African Americans. Dubbing himself King Black Horus Uhuru Jones , Bo Jack, with the help of some world leaders, is poised to disrupt America’s imperialistic policies against weaker nations.
VERDICT Credibility is waived in this schizophrenic story. Hardened street lit scenes involving prison life and cold-blooded maneuverings in the music business are juxtaposed with bizarre secret meetings involving Tupac, Barack Obama, the Castro brothers, and Hugo Chavez. That said, Jihad has a political message, and street lit readers will nod and mutter, “uh, huh.”

Mink, Meesha. Real Wifeys: Hustle Hard. Touchstone: S. & S. Jan. 2013. 288p. ISBN 9781451688979. pap. $14.99. F
Following On the Grind and Get Money, Mink’s third and final installment in her “Real Wifey” series shifts the spotlight to Suga Alvarez who has a degree in finance and pulls in more than 50 grand as a Newark businesswoman. But a dark cloud hangs over her seemingly happy life as her loan-shark fiancé Dane Greenley refuses to go legit. He ignores Suga’s nagging by saying, “There ain’t no jail cell or coffin built for me.” A drive-by ambush becomes another hood tragedy and sure enough, Dane is arrested by the Feds. Frustrated about being broke, Suga comforts herself with liquor and ice cream. Yet she climbs out of her depression to figure out who set up Dane and how she will make it on her own.
VERDICT A well laid out plot spiced with wild sex—including several graphic lesbian scenes—moves Mink’s story right along.  Readers will keep turning pages to see if Suga succeeds as she moves towards redemption. Mink’s books are the real deal.

SELF-eLearn More
SELF-e is an innovative collaboration between Library Journal and BiblioBoard® that enables authors and libraries to work together and expose notable self-published ebooks to voracious readers looking to discover something new. Finally, a simple and effective way to catalog and provide access to ebooks by local authors and build a community around indie writing!


  1. dee locker says:

    Wow Kean rocked ot with animal. Of was awesome from beginning to end. I really enjoy Jo’s down to the nutty hritu yell all hood. Hes one in a million. Wtg lwan

  2. amy cheney says:

    love your column, rollie!