His entry begins:
A while back I listened to Victor LaValle read from his latest novel Big Machine. LaValle's reading left me wondering what happened to his unlikely narrator, Ricky Rice. After the reading, I waited almost a year for the book. There was no disappointment, as Big Machine brought to the page, with rare nuance, the lives of people on the outskirts of society. There was a group of them coming from every place you wouldn't expect the hero of a tale to come from: drug addicts, ladies of the night - men and women who had lived rough lives. They all found themselves amongst the Unlikely Scholars - and that is only where the story begins. Part...[read on]About A Question of Freedom, from the publisher:
A powerful debut memoir from a published poet and emerging writer.R. Dwayne Betts' poetry has been widely published and he is the winner of the 2009 Beatrice Hawley Award. A Question of Freedom was published by Penguin last year.
At the age of sixteen, R. Dwayne Betts-a good student from a lower-middle-class family-carjacked a man with a friend. He had never held a gun before, but within a matter of minutes he had committed six felonies. In Virginia, carjacking is a "certifiable" offense, meaning that Dwayne would be treated as an adult under state law. A bright young kid, weighing only 126 pounds-not enough to fill out a medium T-shirt-he served his eight-year sentence as part of the adult population in some of the worst prisons in the state.
A Question of Freedom is a coming-of-age story, with the unique twist that it takes place in prison. Utterly alone-and with the growing realization that he really is not going home any time soon-Dwayne confronts profound questions about violence, freedom, crime, race, and the justice system. Above all, A Question of Freedom is about a quest for identity-one that guarantees Dwayne's survival in a hostile environment and that incorporates an understanding of how his own past led to the moment of his crime.
Visit R. Dwayne Betts's website.
Writers Read: R. Dwayne Betts.