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Easy Rawlins and the Unbearable Sadness of Being

Oct 10, 2007 (All Things Considered)

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In 1990's Devil in a Blue Dress, author Walter Mosley introduced readers to Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins, a black World War II veteran and detective in Los Angeles. Mosley's newest novel, Blonde Faith, is the 10th Easy Rawlins novel — and, Mosley says, the last.

"There [are] no more Easy Rawlins books in my head. But I guess it's always possible that I could write another one, but I'm not thinking about writing another one, and this feels like a nice ending to me," Mosley tells Robert Siegel.

Blonde Faith is set in Los Angeles in 1967, two years after the Watts Riots and with the Vietnam War as a backdrop.

It's a world "very much like our world today," Mosley says, comparing Vietnam to the current war in Iraq.

Like his other Easy Rawlins novels, Blonde Faith explores issues of race — how it was to be a black man in America during a time of tremendous change.

"Whenever you're talking about a person in a period or a time in a society, then you're talking about politics," Mosley says.

At its heart, Blonde Faith examines love and longing as well.

"It's hard for [Rawlins] to trust in love and the ups and downs of love. I think that this last book is mostly about his inability to answer his own heart," Mosley says.

Rawlins is a tragic character, the kind of detective that, Mosley says, "if he saves your life, you would have been better off dead. That's the world Easy comes from."

"And in this book, there is an extraordinarily deep sadness in him, and the sadness is offset by how successful he is, by how much people love him, and by how he's made a place for himself in a world that didn't want him to make a place for himself," Mosley says. "And still, the sadness is absolute."

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Read an excerpt from the book, in which Rawlins investigates a murder site.

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