Black Bottom Saints | Alice Randall

BLACK BOTTOM SAINTS | BUY BOOK


BOOK REVIEW

A fun historical romp through Detroit’s Black Bottom district, swinging with figures from Dinah Washington to Sammy Davis, Jr and points in between. Our narrator Ziggy is dying and decides to write a book of saints (fashioned after the Catholic Book of Saints) from that memorable time so others will know about that special time. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and it’s not like anything I’ve read in a long time. 


ABOUT THE BOOK

An enthralling literary tour-de-force that pays tribute to Detroit’s legendary neighborhood, a mecca for jazz, sports, and politics, Black Bottom Saints is a powerful blend of fact and imagination reminiscent of E.L. Doctorow’s classic novel Ragtime and Marlon James’ Man Booker Award-winning masterpiece, A Brief History of Seven Killings.

From the Great Depression through the post-World War II years, Joseph “Ziggy” Johnson, has been the pulse of Detroit’s famous Black Bottom. A celebrated gossip columnist for the city’s African-American newspaper, the Michigan Chronicle, he is also the emcee of one of the hottest night clubs, where he’s rubbed elbows with the

legendary black artists of the era, including Ethel Waters, Billy Eckstein, and Count Basie. Ziggy is also the founder and dean of the Ziggy Johnson School of Theater. But now the doyen of Black Bottom is ready to hang up his many dapper hats.

As he lays dying in the black-owned-and-operated Kirkwood Hospital, Ziggy reflects on his life, the community that was the center of his world, and the remarkable people who helped shape it.

Inspired by the Catholic Saints Day Books, Ziggy curates his own list of Black Bottom’s venerable 52 Saints. Among them are a vulnerable Dinah Washington, a defiant Joe Louis, and a raucous Bricktop. Randall balances the stories of these larger-than-life Saints with local heroes who became household names, enthralling men and women whose unstoppable ambition, love of style, and faith in community made this black Midwestern neighborhood the rival of New York City’s Harlem.

Accompanying these “tributes” are thoughtfully paired cocktails–special drinks that capture the essence of each of Ziggy’s saints–libations as strong and satisfying as Alice Randall’s wholly original view of a place and time unlike any other.

Georgette Coan
Georgette Coan is the manager of Barbara's Bookstore at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, IL. She began working for Barbara's in 2010 and was the manager at Barbara's in Burr Ridge, IL. Georgette believes that people still buy paper books because they long for the feel of a physical volume in their hands, actual books on their bookshelves at home, a way to have an actual library (you can't wrap an E-reader!) to pass onto their families. "Books harken back to a more nostalgic era. This new technology isn't for everyone; physical copies of books still offer another choice to those who don't care for the newfangled technology known as E-books and E-readers."