By Wendell P. Simpson
Last Thursday, noted Philadelphia playwright, film scenarist and author Charles Fuller introduced his first novel, ‘Snatch’ to an enthusiastic and attentive audience during a book signing at the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP).
A crowd of about 100 filled the museum’s auditorium as native son Fuller debuted the book and the story behind the tome’s creation.
‘Snatch,’ set in New York City in 1838, is the story of two brothers, David and Charles, ‘free’ African American kids who meet and befriend an escaped slave while eluding a notoriously efficient slaver catcher called Snatch. The book’s rich, detailed narrative unveils a portrait of life for free Blacks in antebellum New York.
Fuller is best known for his play, ‘A Soldiers’ Play’, which earned a coveted Pulitzer Prize, and which served as the basis for his Oscar-nominated screenplay, ‘A Soldiers’ Story’. Other work for which Fuller has won acclaim include the plays ‘Zoo man and the Sign,’ an Obie award winner, and ‘The Village: A Party’.
‘Snatch’ is Fuller’s first work aimed specifically at children. It is a work whose origins lie with a long time promise the writer made to his kids to portray a story about African American youth.
“‘Snatch’ took forty years to happen,” Fuller explained. “There were many stories about our great heroes who fought in the civil rights struggle, but I wanted to write a book in which the heroes were two young black kids. I also wanted to do something that would allow them to decide the outcome of the story.
“I wanted to put the story in history on such a way that kids would be able to see that time, to feel it and to understand that Black people in America were not powerless. History belies that idea.”