New book by Nelson George “City Kid: A Writer’s Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success.” In stores April 2, 2009. (updated)


Nelson George: City KidFrom Crown Heights to Brownsville to Fort Greene, CITY KID: A Writer’s Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success (Viking; On-sale: April 2, 2009) is a candid, colorful memoir about a nerd from the Brooklyn projects who made it big. At first glance, the Georges were “a living, breathing statistic from the infamous Moynihan report on dysfunctional black families.” A single mom with two toddlers, abandoned by the father and jammed into a crime and poverty-ridden housing project in Brooklyn—things looked dim. Yet out of these circumstance came Nelson George—a boy who would grow up to be an award-winning author, filmmaker and critic.

This family story inspired Life Support, George’s Golden Globe-winning HBO film starring Queen Latifah about his sister’s battle against addiction and HIV.

CITY KID is not just the story of a boy overcoming adversity. It is also a love letter to New York in its least lovable days—when heroin returned, then crack outsold heroin; when spiraling crime and collapsing employment set the tone; when bussing, riots and strikes dimmed hope for racial integration; when Shaft became every ghetto kid’s role model. It’s in this improbable environment that Nelson George finds his way to becoming a successful journalist and filmmaker. He is there at the beginning of black popular culture and hip hop—writing about, investing in, and clubbing with its most influential characters—Russell Simmons, Spike Lee, Chris Rock. Through these experiences, we see how he came to be the expert on music and pop culture that he is today.

Although his is a story of triumph over hardship, George does not allow it to fall into clichéd sappiness or self-pity. Seeking transcendence through his love of New York City, George creates an insightful portrait of the emergence of black artists in the ’80s and ’90s and illuminates how the pain of life can be turned into something beautiful.

Here’s an excerpt from the book “Part of pilot episode of tv series OPEN BOOK which will air next year on Link TV” (

Nelson George: City Kid from Diane Paragas on Vimeo.


“A wry, sharp, unpretentious cultural analysis…this memoir is a lively look back at historical changes in popular music, film and writing.”


“In his vivid and charming memoir, novelist and screenwriter George recounts incidents from an eventful life. [He] captures the anxieties of an intelligent child in a dangerous neighborhood, [creates] a welcome and appropriately nerve-wracking portrait of a young New York writer [and] provides tempting glimpses of the vibrant New York of the recent past.”

—Publishers Weekly


NELSON GEORGE is the author of six novels and nine nonfiction books on African-American culture. He has received two ASCAP-Deems Taylor awards and a Grammy Award and has been nominated twice for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Queen Latifah won a Golden Globe for playing the lead in the HBO movie Life Support, which George wrote and directed, based on his sister’s life. He is an executive producer on two returning cable shows: the third season of BET’s American Gangster and the fifth airing of VH1’s Hip Hop Honors. George is also serving in an executive producer capacity on the Chris Rock hosted feature documentary Good Hair, a look at hair weaves, relaxers and the international black hair economy, which just won a Sundance Award. He’s also host of Soul Cities, a travel show that debuted in November on VH1 Soul.

George has written for Playboy, Billboard, Esquire, Spin, Essence and The Village Voice. He’s also the author of the award winning black music histories: Where Did Our Love Go: The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound; The Death of Rhythm & Blues; and Hip Hop America. He won a Grammy for his contribution to the liner notes package on the James Brown “Star Time” boxed set. George co-wrote Life and Def, the autobiography of his old friend Russell Simmons. He’s also had a career writing fiction, including the bestselling One Woman Short, and the story, “It’s Never Too Late in New York”.

As a screenwriter George co-wrote Strictly Business, which starred Halle Berry, and CB4, a vehicle for Chris Rock. His work with Rock led to his involvement with “The Chris Rock Show”, an Emmy award winning HBO late night series. He was an executive producer of Jim McKay‘s film, Everyday People, which premiered at the Sundance festival, and Todd Williams’ Peabody award winning documentary The N Word. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Nelson George’s

HBO Films Life

Facebook GroupSoul Cities with Nelson George

Facebook GroupNelson George:  City Kid

UPDATE April 1, 2009

Here’s a list of book signings for Nelson George‘s City Kid.  I received it in an email from the Nelson George:  City Kid facebook group so please join if you want to continue to be connected to the latest happenings.  I’m about a 3rd of the way through the book and am loving it.  I’d be finished by now if I could dedicate more sitting still time.  😉

more info on Nelson George‘s upcoming book signings for City Kid:

April 2nd, 2009 – Vertigo Books ( /
Sumner School 1201 17th St., NW (17th & M St.), Washington DC 630pm

Monday, April 6th, 2009
Hue-Man Bookstore 2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd btwn 125th & 124th NYC 6pm-8pm

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
Barnes & Noble Brooklyn Heights 106 Court St btwn State & Schermerhorn BKNY 7pm-9pm

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Marcus Bookstore 9300 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd btwn Brockhurst & 32nd St. Oakland, CA 630pm-830pm

Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Book Soup 8818 Sunset Blvd. btwn Larrabee & Holloway West Hollywood, CA 7pm-9pm
The Root Down @ Little Temple 4519 Santa Monica & Virgil Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA 9pm –

Friday, April 17th, 2009
Eso Won Books 4331 Degnan Blvd. btwn 43rd St. & 43rd Pl. Los Angeles, CA 7pm-9pm

May 13th, 2009 – Brooklyn Historical Society

note: for instore appearances most stores require books be purchased onsite.

Urban Romances © 2009

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