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Night Journey

Night Journey

A Novel

  • reading group guide
Not since Richard Wright's Native Son has the education of a young man been rendered as daringly, defiantly, and emotionally galvanizingly as in Murad Kalam's Night Journey.
Night Journey is the story of Eddie Bloodpath, beautiful, oversized, awkward child of South Phoenix's Third Ward. Hefty and handsome, quiet and strong like his long-lost father, Eddie is the good son, seemingly immune to the powerful pull of the streets. His older brother, Turtle -- a frail, stuttering, grammar school dropout who was born to hustle -- isn't convinced that Eddie will stay out of trouble. Acting on instinct, Turtle plucks Eddie from the brink of the urban abyss and delivers him to the boxing gym.
A perpetual innocent and reluctant pugilist, Eddie is adopted by a rogues' gallery of melancholy prizefighters, artful hustlers, strung-out mystics, pubescent crack lords, and drunken burnouts. He falls in love with Tessa, a hauntingly beautiful prostitute with whom he shares an unspeakable secret. Waiting in the wings is Marchalina, Eddie's high school crush, a privileged, bookish, North Phoenix girl who could save him from his worst instincts.
When a senseless murder and its aftermath send Eddie running from the sun-washed landscape of the American Southwest, he tries to fight his way to safety -- first in Chicago, at the national amateur competition, and then in the surreal underworld of Las Vegas professional boxing. Rushing pell-mell toward manhood, Eddie must discover where his true allegiances lie.
An American odyssey, Night Journey is a first novel equally remarkable for its raw power and wise empathy, borne up by Murad Kalam's unshakable belief in the ultimate grace of humanity.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743244190 | 
  • November 2004
List Price $12.00
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Read an Excerpt

Part One: An Awkward Boy

The neighbor woman died, and it was all that Eddie could take.

He found her, returning from the New State Variety, with his big brother, Turtle. Turtle came upon her first, discovered Mrs. Walker in full rigor, facedown dead, her arms and legs splayed out like open scissors on the ruddy red carpet of her parlor. They'd let themselves in through the front door of 51 Woodland, to find her obese body laid out at the bottom of the stairs in the hot room, her aluminum walking cane angled on her back, glowing in the parlor light. Eddie had knocked twice, as he always did, Turtle running in ahead of him, Mrs.... see more

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions for Night Journey by Murad Kalam
1. The area of Phoenix where most of the novel takes place is described as "little and laughable, a caricature of Los Angeles." How might the boys' lives have been better and worse if they lived in a city like L.A.? How are they shaped by the size and nature of their environment?
2. How do Eddie and Turtle react to the disappearance of their father? How do their reactions most significantly differ from each other? How does this desertion kick-start the events that make up the rest of the story?
3. Name the father figures encountered by Eddie and Turtle throughout the book. In what ways did each man help or fail the boys? Who among them had the best intentions? Who had the worst?
4. What is the importance of Eddie's involvement with the Nation of Islam? What specific changes come about in his life because of that involvement? Is his attraction to the group initially a spiritual one, a social one, or both? Does it remain that way? What does the impending Million Man March add as a backdrop to the rest of the novel?
5. What keeps Eddie from the same type of trouble that plagues Turtle? What formative events do most to shape Eddie when he is younger? What role does his talent for boxing play? What people or incidents influence the decisions, and how does this differ from Turtle's experience?
6. The novel is driven by many personal and social themes. Did you react to the book largely as a persona see more

About the Author

Murad Kalam
Photo Credit: Marion Ettlinger

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