Julius Lester

Two Love Stories

From "Basketball Game", p. 54-5

...He kept his sketchpads and watercolor paper on one shelf. On another were empty jars, his brushes, and the watercolor paint tubes. On the walls he put his favorite paintings, not only those he'd done, but copies of paintings by Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper. He guessed Hopper was his favorite. He liked the way everybody and everything seemed frozen in Hopper's paintings. And he had a feeling that maybe that was the way things really were. Things only appeared to be moving or changing, but really they weren't. Like the people he used to watch working in the cotton fields near his grandmother's. All day long he'd watch them, and although he knew they moved up and down the rows with their hoes, they looked the same. And every day it was like that. And every year when he went back they were there. Maybe they were different people, but it didn't matter. It was the same.

From "Catskill Morning", p. 136-7

After that morning their time together became a miracle of silent loving. Each finger of his hand, the whorls in the tips of those fingers, created small flames within her and even on the chilliest mornings she kicked off the red Mexican blanket which covered them as the warmth grew like a child within her. His hands made her know that she was breasts and hips and legs and stomach. It was as if she had never known they existed and only his touch could truly teach her that she was Emily Emily and she screamed and the sky responded Emily Emily. Everything was her and she was everything and her body laughed its ecstasy. Emily Emily Emily girling girling Emily beautiful Emily. His flesh and her flesh, her softness and his hardness. She was the ocean and he a fish. She was Emily and he was Mark and they were flesh and they knew it. They were flesh and flesh was eternal and eternity was the smile between her legs.

Selected Works

Folk Tales
The Last Tales of Uncle Remus. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, 1994. (Out of print)
The last volume in the retellings of the Uncle Remus tales.
When the Beginning Began, illustrated by Emily Lisker, 1999. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
Traditional retellings and original stories around the creation story in Genesis
Long Journey Home, 1972 (Dial Books For Young Readers)
Short stories based on true stories from Black history.
This Strange New Feeling, 1982 (Scholastic Paperbacks)
Three love stories based on true stories from slavery.
Do Lord Remember Me, 1984
A novel inspired by my father's life
And All Our Wounds Forgiven, 1994.
A novel about the civil rights movement and suggested by the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Othello: A Novel, 1995 (Point)
A novelization of the Shakespeare play.
Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel, 2000. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
A story about the young Moses growing up in ancient Egypt.
When Dad Killed Mom, 2001. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle)
A novel about what happens to a brother and sister when their father murders their mother.
The Autobiography of God, 2004, (St. Martin's Press)
A novel that probes the question why evil can exist if God is omnisicient, omnipresent, and All-Good.
Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue, 2005, (Hyperion Books)
A novel in dialogue about the largest slave auction in American history.
Time's Memory 2006 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A novel about an nyama (spirit) that comes to the United States on a slave ship.
Cupid: A Novel, (Harcourt, January, 2007)
A retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche.
Poetry and Photography
Lovesong:Becoming A Jew, 1988 (Bullfinch Press)
Story of my spiritual odyssey to Judaism.
On Writing for Children and Other People, 2005 (Dial Books)
A literary memoir discussing the relationship between my life and my writing
Picture Book
John Henry. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, 1994. (Dial Books for Young Readers)
The first picture book collaboration with Jerry Pinkney
Shining, Illustrations by John Clapp, 2003 (Harcourt Books)
A fable about what a young girl learns from silence.
Let's Talk About Race. Illustrated by Karen Barbour 2005 (Harper Collins/Amistad)
A book in which I talk personally about race and how to think about it. Wonderful illustrations by Karen Barbour.