Noir, crime author Walter Mosley to talk mystery, culture of night

From mystery to young adult fiction to graphic novels, Walter Mosley has written in nearly every genre.

While he is well-known for his Easy Rawlins mystery series, Mosley also writes and is an executive producer for the TV crime drama “Snowfall,” which premiered on FX in July 2017. His diverse skill set is illustrated through the range of the awards he has to his name, including the O’Henry Award, NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work and a 2002 Grammy for Best Album Notes. 

He was the first African American to serve on the board of directors for the National Book Awards, and the first African American “Grand Master” of the Mystery Writers of America.

A prolific author — more than 55 books and counting — Mosley will contribute to the Chautauqua Week Six theme, “After Dark: The World of Nighttime,” at 10:45 a.m. Friday, Aug. 5 in the Amphitheater.

“He’s one of the finest mystery writers of our time, and can help us think about the way in which settings such as nighttime can — with his work and I think more broadly — explore themes of mystery and fear and also contemplation,” said Matt Ewalt, vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education.

Ewalt said when the speakers for Week Six were being invited, the depiction of nighttime in pop culture, whether music, film or, in Mosley’s case, literature, was at the forefront of the conversation. That led him and his team to the Easy Rawlins series, specifically the detective’s debut in 1990’s Devil in a Blue Dress and the 1995 film adaptation starring Denzel Washington. Devil in a Blue Dress is also getting the stage treatment, as Mosley, who has written four other plays, is working on a fifth, adapting his classic work.

Because “After Dark” is a broad theme, it allows Chautauqua to include a wide variety of programs that all fit under the umbrella of nighttime.

“A theme like this also invites all of us into a larger exploration to bring our ideas and our questions, to think — not just with those topics that we’re exploring on stage but — what else can be brought into the theme?” Ewalt said.

Mosley will address the theme during his lecture by tying it to his interaction with the literary noir; and he has plenty to speak about with his 24 published mystery novels.

“In closing the week for us, it’s also an invitation for us, as readers — and even in the broader sense, not just through literature, but how we consume culture — to think about the way in which nighttime is depicted,” Ewalt said, “and how it provides an opportunity for us to ask questions of ourselves and perhaps view the world a little differently.”

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The author Megan Brown

Megan Brown previously managed the business office of The Chautauquan Daily, but she returns as a reporter for the 2022 season. This fall she will graduate from Houghton College with degrees in writing and communication. Outside of class, she works as the co-editor-in-chief of her college’s newspaper The Houghton STAR and consults in the writing center. Megan loves any storytelling medium, traveling and learning new crochet patterns from YouTube.