New Urban Novel Steps Outside the Predictable and Boldly Into the Future; Book Fuses Hiphop, Hoop and Humor to Paint a Brave Near-New World

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Â?If Nas, Ivan Van Sertima, and Samuel Delaney were morphed to write a novel about the near future, it's a good possibility they would come close to what Melki has done here. The book bristles with lively, creative language, profoundly interesting characters, and a plot from outta space. Buckle yo' seat belts and soar with Melki.Â?---Herb Boyd, historian and author, "We Shall Overcome," "Brotherman," and "Along The Glory Road"

Far from the futuristic genre that includes the Matrix, and Terminator, "21 Hustle" is a fresh step into the not so distant future. It's a quick-moving novel full of wit, satire, hiphop and hoop. The book dives headfirst into the questions of life and the stress of living and pulls no punches concerning the possibilities for the planet-both good and bad.

In the not-to-distant future, the continent of Africa is experiencing a renaissance. The land is healing itself. Its people are building an economic superpower while opening their minds and souls again to the forgotten ancient spiritual and mythical traditions.

The United States government is concerned, since a re-vitalized Africa shifts the world's balance of power. So Federal Agent John Shadow, a combination of Clarence Thomas-meet-Anakin-meets John Shaft, and the agency's token Black, is put on the case. His mission: find out what's going on, so the United States can either stop or control it. He's learned that there is a staff of power, that is the key to the continent's rebirth.

Ellis Rey, a sportswriter for The Nubian, New York City's remaining Black-owned newspaper, knows none of this. But he's slowly drawn into the drama through his connections to the saga's players on and off the basketball court.

It's not the only drama Ellis is facing. His girlfriend Maya wants him to take life seriously and make up his mind—about his life and about her.

Jay, Ellis's best friend and a former city hoop legend, whose life has spiraled downhill into a myriad of get-paid hustles. Despite his criminal proclivities he's loyal as a St. Bernard and will have Ellis's back, regardless of what goes down.

It might be hard for Jay to protect Ellis, because Wardell, the brother of another of Ellis's best friends, is a wild card, and out to get paid anyway he can. Unlike Jay, the only back Wardell will watch is his own. Will Wardell sell out his birthright and an entire continent for the Bling?

Melki's debut novel, "21 Hustle," is a hilarious and exciting journey into the world of the issues Black people face at the turn of the century. The novel, an adventure story of the internal and external, is part The Alchemist, part Sankofa and part The Bourne Identity.

It's a layered story about 'hoop and the 'Hood, about hip-hop and hypocrisy, about the complex relationship between fears and dreams. "21 Hustle" is a futuristic and satiric fable about the power of self-perception can change the world and change the individual.

“This novel represents my life experience and what I've learned thus far,” explained Melki. “I wrote it so that all people can see that they can choose to break any psychological chains that hold them, whether it's materialism, 'fame' or any other obstacle to the true self.”

The message, according to its author, is simple: “If you are trapped by the lower laws, you can overcome them by appealing to higher laws. If we give omnipotence to this current materialistic 'Para-Dig-Em,' then we become trapped by it.”

About Melki

Melki is a former near-great hoop dreamer, hiphop emcee, and 'readaholic' attempting to make sense out of life's experiences.

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Todd Burroughs