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Kevin Brown
Born September 3, 1960
Kansas City, Missouri
Residence San Diego, California
Nationality United States
Alma mater City University of New York (CUNY)
Occupation Author, Journalist, Translator
Years active 1978 - 2007
Organization PEN American Center
Relatives Ida Mae Roberson (see Countee Cullen)

Kevin Brown (born September 3, 1960) is a biographer, essayist and translator who has authored or contributed to three books.

Kevin Brown has published brief lives of Romare Bearden (1994)[1] and Malcolm X (1995)[2]. He was a contributing editor to The New York Public Library African American Desk Reference (1999)[3]

Since 1978, Brown's essays, articles and reviews on the visual arts, cinema, dance, literature, music and politics have appeared in Afterimage, the Kansas City Star, the London Times Literary Supplement, The Nation[4], the Threepenny Review[5] and the Washington Post Bookworld, among others.

Kevin Brown's literary translations of Spanish-language authors into English and English-speaking writers into Spanish as well as his profile of translator Gregory Rabassa have appeared in the Iowa University journal of literary translation eXchanges[6] and the University of Delaware's Review of Latin American Studies[7], respectively.

Biographical Information[edit]

Formative Years[edit]

Kevin Brown was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1960. Before primary school, he traveled around Europe and North Africa with his father, John Brown, a running back with the 1950s Iowa Hawkeyes football team, who knew William S. Burroughs, Ted Joans and other writers associated with the Beat Generation in Tangier, Morocco. In the late 60s, Kevin Brown lived in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco, attending Twin Peaks elementary school. In the early 1970s, he lived in the Bay Area, in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, attending Ralston junior high (Belmont), Rancho junior high and Samuel Ayer high school (Milpitas). From 1980-1984, in San Francisco, Brown studied Latin and Greek classics, reading widely in the works of ancient as well as contemporary post-war writers like Gore Vidal. He began publishing short reviews of books by writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Samuel Pepys and Virginia Woolf in newspapers such as the Oakland Tribune as well as longer essays on Spanish Cinema[8] and James Baldwin in the Threepenny Review[9]

In 1985, Brown moved to New York City, attending Columbia University for one year before transferring to the City University of New York. There, he double-majored in Spanish as well as Translating & Interpreting, completing his undergraduate degree in the multi-disciplinary CUNY Baccalaureate Program headquartered at the Graduate Center, where he studied with literary translator Gregory Rabassa. From 1986-1987, Brown was a regular contributor to Kirkus, where he published book reviews on writers and subjects as various as Africa, African-American writers, 20th century American poetry, Anglo-American common law, Australian-New Zealand writers, French history and literature, the Harlem Renaissance, music, photography, politics. During the 1990s, he traveled in Central America and Europe, was a contributor to American Book Review, American Visions and New York Newsday, and was contracted to begin work on biographies of Romare Bearden and Malcolm X.

Family Ties[edit]

Brown's mother, Duan Nimmons, was born (1940) in New York City, where her family had been active in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and early 1930s. Brown's maternal great-grandmother, Ida Mae Roberson (later, Ida Cullen-Cooper), was the widow of Harlem Renaissance poet Countée Cullen. Brown lived in New York from 1985 to 2007, during which time he married and had a son. He relocated to Southern California in 2007, and currently lives in San Diego.



Brown's first book, the biography Romare Bearden: Artist,[10], . . . Of this title, the author wrote:

"I first met African-American artists like Jacob Lawrence and learned of others such as Aaron Douglas, Palmer Hayden, Augusta Savage and Hale Woodruff and others through my great-grandmother. She had known them all and owned work by each of them. Countée Cullen had been an early supporter of the work of Romare Bearden as early as the 1940s. Writing about Romare Bearden afforded me an opportunity to: (1) help bring his work to the attention of an ever-widening public;(2) explore the impact on African-American culture of the Great Migration of blacks to the urban North from the rural South between World Wars I and II; and (3) my abiding interest in the visual arts."

Brown's second book, Malcolm X:His Life and Legacy[11], attempts to chronicle his rise as well as that of rival leader Martin Luther King against the backdrop of the civil rights and black nationalist movements.

Indented line

Formally, I wanted to explore two literary genres: biography; and the essay. Malcolm Xaspires to all the things biography has historically been--didactic, exemplary, commemorative, cautionary--everything but hagiographic. Formal or informal, lyric or expository, solemn or satirical as the context requires, Malcolm X is essentially an attempt at a vividly nuanced biographical essay, interpretive analysis of the Nation of Islam in the larger context of the civil rights movement and a theory of his sudden reemergence as pop-culture icon a generation after his assassination. Ideally, the aim was to combine both forms to achieve something of the pith and perspicacity of Lytton Strachey's superb quartet, Eminent Victorians. Biographically, in writing about a figure as simultaneously overexposed and elusive as Malcolm X, the challenge was either to say something about him that hadn't already been said, or to say it in a different way. The tension between myth and memory as well as the use of multiple perspectives and interior monologue were intended to reveal as many facets of his character from as many angles as possible. The idea was to evoke both subjective and objective reality, revealing the minds of Malcolm and Muhammad at work--their ambitions, their frustrations and reasoning, however flawed. This multiplicity of "truths" was intended to create the impression of complexity, not confusion. Far from mere conceit, this technique seemed the most economical means, in a book so short, of illuminating character from the inside out. I wanted to reach the broadest possible audience in the liveliest possible manner while remaining true to my own aesthetic; to create a provocative portrait without resorting to shock tactics. Was Malcolm X merely a "talented rabble-rouser", as one critic put it, or was he an inspired and inspiring teacher? A little of both, I think. Malcolm's life, like his Autobiography, is a classic story of transformation and redemption. Whatever his lasting political and philosophical legacy, recognition of his courage, charisma, intelligence and influence in struggling to articulate the plight of African Americans and its implications for the country at large is long overdue. 1995 being the 30th anniversary of his assassination, it seemed a good time to reassess, citing a fairly representative cross-section of thinking by contemporary writers on Malcolm X, just what his life might mean for mine and future generations.

Essays, Articles & Reviews[edit]

Literary Translations[edit]




Essays, Articles & Reviews[edit]

Contributing Editor[edit]

  • Fiction International 19:2 (Aids Art, Photomontages from Germany and England) (1991), contributing author

Interviewer & Interviewee[edit]

See The Know(e): dfw for a complete bibliography.

See also[edit]


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  12. ^ Crain, Caleb (October 26, 2003). " / News / Boston Globe / Ideas / Approaching infinity". The Boston Globe. 
  13. ^ "". 
  14. ^ "The Believer—Interview with Kevin Brown". 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]





Fan art tribute

Template:Kevin Brown


External links[edit]