what we owe each other as strangers. “Our definition of heroism has become
so extreme in what you have to do to be heroic that I like the idea of explor-
ing the daily heroism of all our lives on some level.”
Hawley is currently the executive producer, writer, and show runner for
Fargo, the award-winning television series on FX. In the midst of that he was
able to write his latest book. “I wrote the first half of Before the Fall before the
first season of Fargo, and then it went in the drawer. The show was successful
and my agent very smartly sent out the partial manuscript; we sold it and
then suddenly I had to finish it while we were making the second year of Fargo.
Most people get a couple weeks off for Christmas. I had to write a book or
as much of a book as I could write in two weeks. Luckily, I’m a very prolific
writer and a first-draft writer—I tend to be happy with the first pass on
things and then just set about refining the words. But I don’t recommend
doing as much as I’m doing. There are moments when you realize you’ve
overcommitted yourself, but I never want to do anything badly, so I end up
in a situation where you don’t sleep.”
This is the author’s first time at Book Expo. “I know it will be good,” Hawley
says. “I love meeting people, and people who love books are dear to my heart,
so we’ll have a grand old time.”
He signs ARCs at the Hachette booth (1716, 1717) today at 10 a.m., and will
also talk about his book at the AAP Annual Librarians Author Lunch in room
W185, at noon. —Hilary S. Kayle
While his 20-season National Basketball
Association career spanning the Milwaukee
Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers is certainly
remarkable, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s impact on
the American cultural landscape transcends
sports. He has written several books—most
recently the novel Mycroft Holmes with Anna
Waterhouse in 2015—and lends his observations
on race and society to numerous publications.
In his forthcoming Writings on the Wall: Searching
for a New Equality Beyond Black and White
(Time Books, Aug.), Jabbar, through chapters
covering such themes as politics, class, and
aging, encourages readers to focus on
commonalities and conquer long divisions.
The topics highlighted in Writingsonthe Wall have gripped the nation for
decades. Why was now finally the time to write it?
I’ve been addressing these issues for many years in my columns for Esquire,
Time.Com, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. The fact that they
are still relevant despite the many years of discussion, protests, laws, and
political promises motivated me to address them again, but with room for
more reflection and depth. I wouldn’t say that any single incident was especially
inspiring, but rather it was the rising tide of racial, religious, gender, and
sexual orientation bigotry in this country. That is not who we want to be as
Do you see the book as an opportunity to change the conversation?
Every voice added changes the conversation, so I’m hoping mine will, in a
positive direction. I’m relying on my experiences as an American, an
African-American, a Muslim, a historian, a businessman, an educator, and an
athlete to bring a fresh perspective to the issues that might be illuminating
for some. Also, conversations must eventually lead to actions to make things
better. I hope the book improves the conversation, but ultimately leads to
real changes that improve people’s lives here and now.
How did being reared in the midst of the civil rights era inform the book?
When I was in high school, I had the opportunity as a student journalist to
attend a press conference held by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I even got to ask
him a question. I remember how impressed I was by his thoughtful demeanor,
articulate speech, and passionate commitment. Not too long after that, I
accidentally got caught up in a riot in Harlem in which I literally had to run
for my life. Both of those incidents woke me up to see the world around me
more clearly and with a more profound understanding of my place in it. More
important, seeing so many people of all colors, faiths, and ages joining together
to fight racism made me realize that you couldn’t be a bystander when there
is social injustice. I hope that spirit made its way into the book.
What is one of the takeaways you would like for readers to embrace from
Writings on the Wall?
That our Constitution is a guide for the most socially and politically progressive
country in the world—if we just follow its spirit of inclusiveness. We all want
to do the right thing. I hope the book helps us figure out how.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be signing books today in the Time Books booth
(2010, 2011), 2–3: 30 p.m. —Alia Akkam