Harlem Revisited: PW Talks with Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

By Parul Sehgal, Publishers Weekly, Dec 06, 2010

In Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America, Texas transplant and journalist Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts tracks the storied neighborhood in history, literature, and daily life.

What was it like living in a place and writing about it at the same time?

It was a real conundrum. I’d always imagine that I was running back and forth between two worlds—the library and the street—and I knew I had to bring those two experiences into the same frame. And there was a stage when I just had to shut it all out, and Harlem just had to be where I lived. These are all the questions of the book. How do the stories we’re told in everyday life measure up with the stories that get written into history books? How are these stories transmitted?

You write about Harlem both as a literal and metaphorical place. Why did you choose this approach?
Continue reading