Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas
Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age in 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, street fighting, and armed robbery – a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old was sent to prison for shooting a cop.
As he recounts his 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 afterword by the author.