Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Pulitzer Prize Winner Junot Díaz Calls
Ghetto Brother
, "a gem"

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This week, The New York Times ran a special digital supplement where they asked some notably avid readers — who also happen to be poets, musicians, diplomats, filmmakers, novelists, actors and artists — to share the books that accompanied them through 2016.

Junot Díaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" and "This is How You Lose Her" shared two choices with The Times, one of which was NBM Publishing's "Ghetto Brother – Warrior to Peacemaker" by Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering.  Díaz described the titles as, "books (that) accompanied me through the darkness of these last months."

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Image © The New York Times

And then there is Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering’s superb graphic history “Ghetto Brother,” which on the surface is a biography of Benjy Melendez, the Boricua brother who in the late ’60s founded one of the Bronx’s most notorious gangs: the Ghetto Brothers. But like the borough in which it is set, “Ghetto Brother” contains multitudes: The book is also a history of the multiracial Bronx, of its black and Puerto Rican communities, of its youth gangs, of hip-hop’s rise from the gang truce that Benjy helped to forge, and finally it is the story of Benjy’s awakening to his family’s hidden Jewish faith. Starkly drawn, boldly told, “Ghetto Brother” is a gem.

Ghetto Brother - Warrior to Peacemaker is an engrossing and counter view of one of the most dangerous elements of American urban history, this graphic novel tells the true story of Benjy Melendez, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighborhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, he managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence. After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background.

Ghetto Brother - Warrior to Peacemaker by Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering is currently available from NBM Publishing and is available in both print and digital editions.  (ISBN 9781561639489)

For more details click here.

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