NEW YORK CITY — “For myself and many of my comrades who came of age in [the 1960s and ’70s], growing up black in Connecticut was like being a stranger in your own land, a guest who had overstayed his welcome in someone else’s home.” So begins CINDERS: Stories of an Inner-City Survivor by acclaimed journalist and novelist Cindy Brown Austin. It will be published on May 8, 2016, by Heliotrope Books of New York City.
When the horrific murders of twenty school children occurred in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, the shock reverberated around the world. But in Connecticut’s poorest cities, like Hartford—where Cindy Brown Austin was born and raised—the untimely murder of urban youth had been occurring for years. Cindy Brown Austin details her and other urban children’s lives on the battlefield of “generational genocide” in her new memoir.
In the tradition of Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land and Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, Cinders is a searing coming-of-age story about the struggles of urban children being locked out of the American dream, about what it means to be a poor, black child in an affluent, white world.
Austin has a particular flair for observing and describing individuals who connect with the reader. She includes many vignettes about neighbors, friends, family members, even strangers, that are searing and poignant.
An Apostolic minister and former columnist for the Hartford Courant, Austin has been profiled by the New York Times and published by Readers Digest and Essence magazines. A recipient fellow of the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and a finalist in Ebony Magazine’s annual fiction writing contest, Austin’s first novel, By the Rivers of Babylon, was published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster.
Cinders is being published on Mother’s Day to honor the author’s mother, who guided Cindy and her sisters when they were young and living in compromised conditions. Her mother imparted her own interest in books, reading and writing, and raised her children with dignity. She was the first line of defense between them and the chaos of the Street.
Cindy Brown Austin hopes to open an urban writing/publishing center in the heart of Hartford’s worst neighborhood. “I want to build the next generation of Toni Morrisons and Langston Hugheses,” says Austin.