by Julie HaleFebruary, 2005
The Man in My Basement
A master of many genres, including mystery and science fiction, Mosley has now produced a profound, fully imagined piece of literary fiction, a novel that privileges philosophical discussion over action-packed plotlines. Unemployed and swimming in debt, Charles Blakey leads a solitary life in Sag Harbor, in the large, rambling house he inherited from his family. Blakey, whose ancestors were free blacks, can trace his roots in America back to the 17th century, and his basement is packed with relics from his family's past. When a stranger named Anniston Bennet a wealthy white man offers him $50,000 to rent out the basement for the summer, Blakey considers the proposition because he needs the money. Bennet's offer comes with an odd condition, but Blakey eventually accepts it, and what transpires between the men once Bennet takes up residence in the basement is a fascinating exercise in racial dynamics. The pair engage in an extended dialogue about the effects of power, about forgiveness and redemption, about the nature of humanity and the consequences of history. Hailed as a masterpiece, this fast-moving novel of ideas has been compared to Albert Camus' The Stranger and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Fans of Mosley's Easy Rawlins series will welcome the book as further evidence of the author's astounding versatility. A reading group guide is included in the book.