Absolutely delighted that No Crystal Stair won this year’s Boston Globe-Horn Book award for Fiction. Congratulations to all!

educating alice

I’m a fan of boundary crossings, those books that don’t sit neatly in one genre. Say Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck with their mix of textual and visual storytelling or Deborah Wiles’ Countdown with the atmospheric setting heightened through the use of documentary material. Now along comes another hybrid, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson’s superb No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller.

To say this is the story of a bookseller hardly does Lewis Michaux or his great-niece Nelson justice. For this bookseller was also political, socially aware, charming, smart, and a player through a significant historical time and place. Nelson spent years researching and figuring out how to tell the story of this incredible man. In her author note she writes:

Researching this family history was exciting and challenging, though nonexistent and conflicting information complicated the project…

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