Viking has signed an “epic” biography of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne, drawing on three decades of author interviews to rewrite much of the known narrative.
Publishing director Daniel Crewe acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X from Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein on behalf of Faith Childs at Faith Childs Literary Agency. It will be published in October 2020.
Les Payne, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly 30-year-long quest to interview anyone he could find who had actually known Malcolm X—all living siblings of the Malcolm Little family, classmates, friends, cellmates, Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and cops, and political leaders around the world. His goal was “to transform what would become hundreds of hours of interviews into an unprecedented portrait of Malcolm X, one that would separate fact from fiction”.
The publisher said “The result is this historic biography that conjures a never-before-seen world of its protagonist, a work whose title is inspired by a phrase Malcolm X used when he saw his followers in Hartford, Connecticut, stir with purpose, as if the dead were truly arising, to overcome the obstacles of racism. Setting Malcolm’s life not only within the Nation of Islam but against the larger backdrop of American history, the book traces the life of one of the twentieth century’s most politically relevant figures “from street criminal to devoted moralist and revolutionary.”
The book is introduced by Payne’s daughter and primary researcher, Tamara Payne, who, following her father’s death in 2018, completed the biography.
Crewe said: “Against the backdrop of an epic account of politics in America, The Dead Are Arising is a remarkable new portrait of one of the most important political figures of the twentieth century. Based on incredible research—and from an author who saw Malcolm X speak—it comprises superbly vivid scenes from start to finish and will surely never be bettered.”