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Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating,
lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem.
Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking
America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge
its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas's plunge
into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed
robbery--a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri
was sent to prison for shooting a cop.
As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El
Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance,
faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is
as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible
rhythm of its author's voice. Thirty years after its first appearance,
this classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence
is available in an anniversary edition with a new Introduction by
the author. More...
Born Juan Pedro Tomas, of Puerto Rican and Cuban parents in New
York City's Spanish Harlem in 1928, Piri Thomas began his struggle
for survival, identity, and recognition at an early age. The vicious
street environment of poverty, racism, and street crime took its
toll and he served seven years of nightmarish incarceration at hard
labor. But, with the knowledge that he had not been born a criminal,
he rose above his violent background of drugs and gang warfare,
and he vowed to use his street and prison know-how to reach hard
core youth and turn them away from a life of crime. More...