There are certainly too many books in the world to fit into a lifetime. You could live and not hear of some authors or read their books in your lifetime. One of such authors, I did not know until recently is Walter Mosley. Until last year I had barely heard the name and not seen any of his books. How I had not heard of such a revered author with over 54 published works (most of them critically acclaimed), is a wonder in itself. Since then I have gotten over half a dozen of his books and The Awkward Black Man is one of his two books that found its way into the 2021 TBR list. Short stories are not my favourite form of fiction but you will not guess so with the amount of short stories collections that I randomly picked for my 2021 TBR list.
The Awkward Black Man is a collection of seventeen stories of black men living life on the margins due to their awkwardness. Interestingly, the awkwardness is not about their race but about characteristics that can be applicable to anyone irrespective of the colour of their skin. Some marked out by their weight, mental illness, infidelity, mortality and inability to handle social interactions. As is often the case with short stories collections, some of the stories in The Awkward Black Man are ordinary and unmemorable, while others are excellent and seem too short as you wish the beauty of the lasted longer. However, one common thread runs through the entire collection – Walter Mosley’s unique ability to capture the imagination and attention of the reader throughout. His writing is sharp and clear-eyed, with enough detail to draw you in. Even with the uneven nature of the collection, I enjoyed some gems in it. Pet Fly, Reply to A Dead Man, The Letter and Breath were excellent. Reply To A Dead Man was my favourite story in the book. While I am not sure I look forward to another short stories collection from the author (that is because I am not really a big fan of short stories), I am enthralled enough with his writing skill to look forward to his novels in my collection.