The Tempest Tales


Author: Walter Mosley

Title: The Tempest Tales

Genre: African-American fiction; Psychological fiction

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 250

Geographical Setting: Harlem, New York City

Time Period: Modern day

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:   Tempest Landry is an African American male who finds himself at the gates of St. Peter after being accidentally shot to death by white police officers in Harlem.  St. Peter believes Tempest has committed enough sins to be condemned to hell.  However, Tempest refuses St. Peter’s judgment and claims his sins were either acts committed surrounding the situation of being an African-American male or that they were not big enough to be taken seriously.  Tempest is supposedly the first soul to ever disagree with St. Peter’s judgment and heaven is quickly turned on its head.  It is decided that Tempest will return to earth in a new body with an angel named Joshua.  Joshua’s goal is to show Tempest he is a
sinner.  It is at this point in the book where Mosley really makes the reader question the ethics of sinning which is done through tongue in cheek dialog between Joshua and Tempest.  Although tackling spiritual issues the book explores philosophical issues as well. Especially after Satan appears demanding Tempest’s soul.  The Satan character is named Bob and happens to be the only main character that is white. This adds an interesting dynamic to the race relations of the main characters of the book.

Subject Headings: African-American men – Death, Racism, Heaven, Soul, Devil, Life after death, Angels, Temptation, Police misconduct, Accidental death, Sin, Fairness, Justice, Injustice, Redemption.

Appeal: Thought Provoking, Fast paced, Builds in intensity, Witty, Evangelistic, Edgy, Sarcastic, Stark, Thoughtful, Uneasy, Flawed, Introspective, Multiple points of view.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Thought provoking, Fast-paced, Witty.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B Du Bois. Published in 1903 and is a study of race, culture, and education at the turn of the twentieth century.

Double Take: A Revisionists Harlem Renaissance Anthology, byVenetria Patton.  A selection of texts
from the Harlem Renaissance by men, women, gay, and straight writers of the time.

How Different Religions View Death and Afterlife, by Christopher Jay Johnson.  This book compares 19 different religions and their views on death and the afterlife.  Each chapter is written by a scholar from the religion in which they are discussing.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Kid, by Sapphire. A story of survival of 9 year old Jamal Abdul Jones.  As he is abused by priests and an orphanage, Jamal begins abusing other children and is thrown out of the orphanage.  Jamal then finds himself in a tough world of handling his own desires and dealing with consequences.

Some Sing, Some Cry, by Ntozake Shange. A fictitious story that follows an emancipated female slave through the life obstacles.  The story follows key moments in American history.

The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeir.  A novel about life, death, and an area inbetween.  In this story the population of a city starts to evaporate due to the people existing only because they are
remembered by the living.

Name: Bill P.


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