This episode features an interview with my long-time friend and colleague Kenji Jasper, a novelist, journalist, and screenwriter. Jasper began his writing career with an article as an intern for The Washington Informer at 13. At 14, he became a contributor to Black Entertainment Television‘s YSB Magazine, and later worked as a writer and instructor at The Institute for the Preservation and Study of African American Writing. He also served as an on-air personality for WTTG Fox 5’s Newsbag (1986–1987), and later as one of the founding cast members of Black Entertainment Television’s Teen Summit (1989–1993). By the time he graduated from Morehouse College in 1997, his journalism had appeared in VIBE, Essence, The Village Voice, Upscale, The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union Tribune, and The Atlanta Tribune.
He wrote his first novel, Dark, at the age of 21, which was released in the UK, translated into French, and optioned for film by State Street Pictures (Soul Food, Barbershop, Roll Bounce) and Fox Searchlight Pictures. His second novel, Dakota Grand, was published in 2002 and was praised by Publishers Weekly, VIBE, Essence, The Chicago Sun-Times and Africana.com. His third novel, Seeking Salamanca Mitchell, was published in 2004. His memoir The House on Childress Street was published in 2006, followed by his fourth novel, Snow. Jasper has contributed articles and essays to National Public Radio, The Village Voice, VIBE, The Charlotte Observer, The Chicago Sun-Times and Essence among many other publications. In 2007 he co-edited and published Beats, Rhymes and Life, a collection of critical writings on hip hop culture with writer and director Ytasha Womack. He was also the CEO and Editor of The Armory, a publishing partnership with Akashic Books. Its first release, Got by first-time author D, was published in 2007, followed by Cake in 2008.