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Black Bottom Saints | by Alice Randall
Alice Randall
Alice Randall’s magical Black Bottom Saints brings to life Detroit’s legendary
neighborhood, one of the most influential, artful Black communities in America.
The novel, reminiscent of E.L. Doctorov’s Ragtime, comes alive through the voice
of Joseph “Zig-gy” Johnson (1913-1968) who was a real-life nightclub impresario,
dance studio instructor, and entertainment columnist for the Michigan Chronicle.

It takes its shape from the Catholic Saints Day Books with Ziggy choosing his own
“52 Saints.” Randall balances the stories of these larger-than-life “Saints” (Dina Washington, Joe Louis, and Sammy Davis, Jr.) with local heroes (Charles Diggs, UAW negotiator Marc Stepp, and Maxine Powell), and creates enthralling characters whose unstoppable ambition, love of style, and faith in community made this black Midwestern neighborhood the rival of New York City’s Harlem.

Alice Randall was born in Detroit and raised in Washington DC. She is a Harvard-educated author of
novels, including The Wind Done Gone, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, Rebel Yell, and Ada’s Rules. She is also the first African American woman to write a #1 Country and Western song (XXX’s and OOO’s which celebrates Aretha Franklin). With her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams, she co-authored the acclaimed cookbook Soul Food Love which won the NAACP Image award and the young adult novel The Diary of B.B. Bright, Possible Princess, which received the Phillis Wheatley Award.  Alice Randall is a Professor and Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University