Cover image for Falling pieces of the broken sky
Falling pieces of the broken sky
Lester, Julius.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade, [1990]

Physical Description:
276 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.615 .L474 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E185.615 .L474 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order


Author Notes

Julius Bernard Lester was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January 27, 1939. He received a bachelor's degree in English from Fisk University in 1960. He moved to New York to become a folk singer. He performed on the coffeehouse circuit as a singer and guitarist. He released two albums entitled Julius Lester in 1965 and Departures in 1967. His first published book, The Folksinger's Guide to the 12-String Guitar as Played by Leadbelly written with Pete Seeger, was published in 1965.

In the 1960s, Lester was closely involved as a writer and photographer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He traveled to the South to document the civil rights movement and to North Vietnam to photograph the effects of American bombardment. He also hosted radio and television talk shows in New York City.

He wrote more than four dozen nonfiction and fiction books for adults and children. His books for adults included Look Out, Whitey!: Black Power's Gon' Get Your Mama, Revolutionary Notes, All Is Well, Lovesong: Becoming a Jew, and The Autobiography of God. His children's books included To Be a Slave, Sam and the Tigers, and Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue, which won the American Library Association's Coretta Scott King Award in 2006. He also wrote reviews and essays for numerous publications including The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, The Village Voice, Dissent, The New Republic, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review.

After teaching for two years at the New School for Social Research in New York, Lester joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1971. He originally taught in the Afro-American studies department, but transferred to the Judaic and Near Eastern studies department when Lester criticized the novelist James Baldwin for what he felt were anti-Semitic remarks. He died from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on January 18, 2018 at the age of 78.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Forthrightness and independence characterize these essays, previously published in the New York Times , Boston Globe , New Republic , etc. Nine are on writers and writing, five on race and 21 on subjects ranging from safe sex, teenage suicides, video games and Bernhard Goetz to pollution in space, writing as reaching out to people and the significance of Rosh Hashanah. An early advocate of black pride (but not black power), Lester disassociated himself from the movement when he determined that the ``black collective cared only for itself, and its ultimate triumph would be to destroy that singular and unique entity I knew as myself.'' Since then, as teacher and writer ( Lovesong: Becoming a Jew ), he has preached love for those who oppose us as well as for family and friends. His sensitivity is apparent in his evaluations of Aldous Huxley and Thomas Merton; his aversion to anti-Semitism evident in his assessments of James Baldwin, Louis Farrakhan and Jesse Jackson. Above all, he is concerned with the meaning of life: ``What is it like to be me?'' (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

These essays often describe a triangle formed by three aspects of their author: as black man, Jew, and writer. They invite contradictions, and hence readers will find much to disagree with. Lester prizes his individuality above any ``collectivity''; exalts ``human experience'' above ``those forts in the wilderness called the black experience, the gay experience, women's experience''; and seems to feel closer to mysticism than to politics. He can be funny or facile, too, but his views on race and on religion are deeply felt. He questions the ``victim'' role among blacks, without excusing white prejudice and indifference. For that kind of difficult integrity he deserves a wide audience.-- Donald Ray, Mercy Coll. Lib., Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-- In 35 essays, Lester shares his thoughts on myriad subjects. The first and largest section of the book includes essays on writers, including Henry Miller, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Merton, and James Baldwin. There is a scathing criticism of the racism in Huckleberry Finn and a delightful montage of ideas and anecdotes from Lester's lifelong love affair with books. ``To Be a Writer and Be Black'' chronicles his anger and disillusionment with the black movement and his eventual dismissal as a contributor to their cause. In the section on ``Race,'' Lester's identity as a Jew as well as a black American gives him a unique point of view. One article gives much food for thought on a less common aspect of racism in America, while others denounce both Farrakhan and Jesse Jackson as anti-Semites, unfit to serve as leaders in the black movement. The final section, sharing the book's title, is a series of short articles on sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious subjects ranging from windchill factor (totally unnecessary) to teenage suicides. Readers will find these always interesting and informative, sometimes fascinating, and often touching. Lester says the reader enters ``a relationship of intimacy with the writer, and if the writer has written truly and if we give ourselves over to what is written, we are given the gift of ourselves in ways that surprise and catch the soul off guard.'' Lester has written truly. --Rosie Peasley, Somerset School, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.