Ayize Jama-Everett - published January 2012
January 2012 · 9781931520331 / 9781931520362 · $16 · 200pp · trade paper/ebook
“A fun and fast-paced thriller. Recommended for: Mutants, misfits, anyone who’s ever felt partway between one thing and another.”
—The Ladies of Comicazi
Taggert can heal and hurt with just a touch. When an ex calls for help, he risks the wrath of his enigmatic master to try and save her daughter. But when Taggert realizes the daughter has more power than even he can imagine, he has to wrestle with the very nature of his skills, not to mention unmanned and uncreated gods, in order keep the girl safe. In the end, Taggert will have to use more than his power, he has to delve into his heart and soul to survive.
Read: an interview on The Rumpus:
Like all good genre stories, The Liminal People sneakily explores some deep questions. In between cool fight sequences and imaginative depictions of the not-quite or perhaps more-than-human, it makes you wonder about what it means to belong and who gets past the gates of that exclusive country club called “normal.”
It’s little wonder Jama-Everett would be interested in these kinds of subjects. Like his work, he’s hard to categorize. And he’s quite familiar with the experience of liminality. He grew up as a kind of real-life Oscar Wao—a bespectacled, comic book-reading punk rock fan in 1980s Harlem.
Read: Ayize’s excellent and hilarious Book Brahmin piece for Shelf Awareness.
The Agony Column Live with Lisa Goldstein and Ayize Jama-Everett, and music by Fenyang Smith.
“Compact but creative, and filled with good ideas and elements of classic sci-fi, noir, and superhero stories. Really well-paced and compelling.”
—Peter, Brookline Booksmith
“You’ll be sucked into a fast-paced story about superpowered people struggling for control of the underground cultures they inhabit…. The novel is a damn good read. It’s a smart actioner that will entertain you while also enticing you to think about matters beyond the physical realm.”
—Annalee Newitz, io9
“The action sequences are smartly orchestrated, but it is Taggert’s quest to retrieve his own soul that gives “The Liminal People” its oomph. Jama-Everett has done a stellar job of creating a setup that promises even greater rewards in future volumes.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“The story’s setup . . . takes next to no time to relate in Jama-Everett’s brisk prose. With flat-voiced, sharp-edged humor reminiscent of the razors his fellow thugs wear around their necks, Taggert claims to read bodies ‘the way pretentious East Coast Americans read The New Yorker … I’ve got skills,’ he adds. ‘What I don’t have is patience.'”
—Nisi Shawl, The Seattle Times
“An astounding first novel.”
—Elitist Book Reviews
“For all the grit, character and poetry on display here, Everett’s own super power appears to be plotting and set-pieces. Readers will find a quick immersion in the opening scene, and then some secret world-building. Once the plot kicks in, readers had best be prepared to finish the book in one sitting, while experiencing better special effects than you will find in any movie. Indeed, Everett’s prose is cinematic in the best sense; when he puts us in a scene of action, his descriptions take on a hyper-clarity that is better than telepathy. The plot arc is cunning and enjoyably surprising, and the revelations have the shock of the new but the old-school satisfaction of well-woven espionage plots. ‘The Liminal People’ is seriously well-written, but also seriously fun to read. It’s a secret world that deserves the elegant exposition of this engaging novel — and a sequel, sooner rather than later.”
—Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column
“Every once in awhile, a first novel catches you by surprise. Sometimes it’s the style and sometimes it’s the pure originality or unique mixing of influences. In the case of Ayize Jama-Everett’s The Liminal People (Small Beer Press), the pleasure comes from all of the above.”
—Jeff VanderMeer, Omnivoracious
“Razor. Plush. Fast.”
—Recommended by Tân, City Lights Books
“From within “The Golden Ghetto” Jama-Everett has created a book that resists classification, joining the Afrosurreal Pantheon of writers exploring this new-found freedom. He calls the gifted ones Liminal People, people “Always on the borderland, the threshold, the in-between.” He has Taggert explain. “I learned what I know by walking the liminal lands.” I trust that many people will relate, or will want to.”
—D. Scot Miller, City Lights Blog
“The Liminal People is an excellent first novel full of insightful characters – however gradually they may gain that insight – engaged in a battle that seems to have only just begun. I’m hoping that this novel is the first in a series, as Jama-Everett has built a world and peopled it with characters about which and whom I wish to know more.”
“Ayize Jama-Everett has brewed a voodoo cauldron of Sci-Fi, Romance, Crime, and Superhero Comic, to provide us with a true gestalt of understanding, offering us both a new definition of “family” and a world view on the universality of human conduct. The Liminal People—as obviously intended—will draw different reactions from different readers. But none of them will stop reading until its cataclysmic ending.”
“Ayize’s imagination will mess with yours, and the world won’t ever look quite the same again.”
“The Liminal People has the pleasures of classic sf while being astonishingly contemporary and savvy.”
—Maureen F. McHugh
“Fast and sleek and powerful—a skillful and unique mix of supernatural adventure and lived-in, persuasive, often moving noir.”
—Felix Gilman, author of The Half-Made World
“Fast-paced and frequently violent, Jama-Everett’s engaging and fulfilling debut offers a compelling take on the classic science-fiction convention of the powerful misfit; incorporates an interesting, multiethnic cast of characters; and proves successful as both an action-packed thriller and a careful look at the moral dilemmas of those whose powers transcend humanity.”
Cover by Adam S. Doyle.
About the Author
Ayize Jama-Everett was born in 1974 and raised in Harlem, New York. Since then he has traveled extensively in Northern Africa, New Hampshire, and Northern California. He holds a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s in Divinity. He teaches religion and psychology at Starr King School for the Ministry when he’s not working as a school therapist at the College Preparatory School. He is the author of three novels, The Liminal People, The Liminal War, and The Entropy of Bones, as well as an upcoming graphic novel with illustrator John Jennings entitled Box of Bones. When not educating, studying, or beating himself up for not writing enough, he’s usually enjoying aged rums and practicing his aim.