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Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas''s plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery--a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop.

As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance, faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible rhythm of its author''s voice. Thirty years after its first appearance, this classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence is available in an anniversary edition with a new Introduction by the author.

Amazon.com Review

The 30th anniversary edition of this classic memoir about growing up in Spanish Harlem includes an afterword reminding us that its streets are even meaner now, thanks to crack cocaine and the dismantling of government poverty programs. As a dark-skinned Puerto Rican, born in 1928, Piri Thomas faced with painful immediacy the absurd contradictions of America''s racial attitudes (among people of all colors) in a time of wrenching social change. Three decades have not dimmed the luster of his jazzy prose, rich in Hispanic rhythms and beat-generation slang.

From School Library Journal

The 30th anniversary edition of Thomas''s classic is as relevant today as when it was originally published in 1967. The lyrical memoir follows the coming-of-age on the streets of Spanish Harlem of a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America—a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery eventually land the 22-year-old Piri in prison for shooting a cop. An eye-opening account of one young man''s journey of identity, marginalization, survival, and transcendence.

Review

"Piri Thomas describes the passionate, painful search to validate his manhood...He has done it all in Harlem''s mean streets and gone on from machismo to manhood, acquiring during the journey an understanding of man."--The Nation

From the Inside Flap

Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas''s plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery--a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop.

As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance, faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible rhythm of its author''s voice. Thirty years after its first appearance, this classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence is available in an anniversary edition with a new Introduction by the author.

From the Back Cover

Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas''s plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery--a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop.
As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance, faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible rhythm of its author''s voice. Thirty years after its first appearance, this classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence is available in an anniversary edition with a new Introduction by the author.

About the Author

PIRI THOMAS was born of Puerto Rican and Cuban parents in New York City''s Spanish Harlem in 1928. Poverty in the ghetto led him to drugs, youth gangs, and a series of criminal activities, for which he served seven years in prison. There he began his life of rehabilitation, vowing to use his street and prison experience to turn youths away from lives of crime. Mr. Thomas then lectured at schools and universities across the country, and authored several books including Savior, Savior, Hold My Hand; Seven Long Times; and Stories from El Barrio. He died in 2011, at the age of 83.

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