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Harlem is black America 's last outpost of a truly distinctive cultural and social character. It is a place of arrival from somewhere else--Africa or the deep South, the Caribbean or New England--that endures as "a place of real and imagined force," Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts writes, even as its legacy as the capital of black America is threatened by gentrification. Examining the epic Harlem of official history and the personal Harlem that begins at her front door, Rhodes-Pitts introduces us to a wide variety of characters. At the heart of their stories, and her own, is the hope that has been carried to this place over many generations, hope that Harlem would be the ground from which blacks fully entered America's democracy. Rhodes-Pitts is a brilliant new voice who, like other significant chroniclers of places--Joan Didion on California , E.B. White on another New York , Verlyn Klinkenborg on Iowa , or Jamaica Kincaid on Antigua--captures the very being of her subject .
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts's articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Boston Globe, Transition, and Times Literary Supplement. She has received a Lannan Foundation fellowship and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and was a Fulbright Scholar in 2007. Rhodes-Pitts was born in Texas and educated at Harvard University.