Updated: Apr 24
Hello and welcome back.
I first noticed Jay Rell after he commented on the cover of a book that I had recently reviewed. From that brief exchange, I was compelled to learn a bit more about him. He is one of those men who possess a quiet dominance that speaks well before he utters a word. During our subsequent verbal exchanges in the weeks to follow, I would come to appreciate the quiet power he possesses as a beautifully imperfect man and at the same time respect the vulnerability and insecurity that comes from putting himself out there to be judged in a way many shy away from for fear of rejection and harsh judgment.
I hope you enjoy this brief moment with Jay Rell and my review on his debut novel, The Black Men Who Struck Oil.
Having grown up in a household surrounded by books, he was inspired early on to write one of his own. Like many childhood dreams, writing didn’t really materialize until later on. Early attempts at writing consisted mostly of school assignments and writing rhymes on the train. His fascination with stories of black liberation and organized crime had him wishing there were books that combined the two subjects.
After reading Nathan Mccall’s “Makes Me Wanna Holler” in high school, Jay Rell decided to enroll at Norfolk State University. It was there where he signed up for a creative writing course, with the final exam being to construct a 15-20,000-word short novel. He chose to write about his time working as a bagger in a Dominican drug spot owned and operated by one of New York City's legendary dealers. While writing about the daily travails and different personalities at work, he also managed to weave in anecdotes on social issues and black history, thus creating his own genre called conscious urban fiction.
What helps him create engaging conscious urban fiction is he tries to give each character texture by creating them as three dimensional with rich backstories. He can draw on his own experiences or things that he's heard about or told firsthand. Writing is not for the weak. Rell likens it to playing sports like golf or baseball. We all think we can, but when it comes down to execution, we are not all built the same. However, it appears that Rell doesn't have to worry about not hitting a hole in one. The most consensus from his readers is that they love the splashes of black history found in his work. The fact he can create a picture that readers can easily visualize while raising their consciousness is a gift. Plus he says ladies really "dig" Peter one of the pivotal characters in his novel.
The Black Men Who Struck Oil , is available on Amazon in PaperBack, Kindle Unlimited, Barnes and Noble, and a few select bookstores. His team is working diligently to expand the book's shelf presence and wanting to connect with black bookstores all across the globe. Jay Rell also has a podcast called Black and Notorious. It is a true-crime series that examines black criminals whose acts of defiance while on the face of it may be illegal but could be deemed revolutionary to many. of us to say the least. It's been on the shelf, but the subject matter is timely, to say the least
When he's not writing, he spends quality time with family and friends. Before Covid-19 gripped the world, he would also go to the gym and play basketball on a regular basis.
Today, Jay Rell awaits the arrival of a wise black scientist to usher him on to The Mothership; all while living abroad as the patriarch of his very own Light-Skinned Dynasty.
Blurb-From the creator of conscious urban fiction comes a classic crime saga set in modern-day New York City. The story follows young black men with varying degrees of connectedness to the streets, as they strive toward achieving power, wealth, and self-reliance in a society dedicated to rendering them members of a permanent underclass. Crispus, a teenager wise beyond his years, navigates his day to day influenced by the words and deeds of his revolutionary elders. He is also drawn to the glamorous and brutally violent lives of his older brother Anthony and the people he runs with. Told at a pace suitable for the traditional urban fiction fan, The Black Men Who Struck Oil takes its readers into a world of organized crime and intelligent black thought. Written in a lyrical style with an eye on character development, readers follow our men in their attempts to strike oil the best way they know.
Review- There were a few words that immediately came to mind gritty, thought-provoking, and next level.
Gritty was the ease in which the characters dealt with their circumstances and cleared any obstacle i.e. the book's opening scene and the "handling" of Jose and his deceit. If you know me, I love a good gritty, realistic scene such as this opening, especially when it's handled so nonchalantly. Anthony's young accomplice seemed unphased by the savage act. This tells you that he has seen some horrible things to be so desensitized.
Thought-provoking in the way the author uses questions like "And can you reform devil?" "Who made the Holy Koran or Bible?" or "Tell us what he promised his Nation would do?"
As you read you wonder how does the question tie into the movements of the characters? Then if you are like me, you stop reading to go and google a new term or reference made within the chapter or heck to just to answer one of the questions, because I'm nosey and I like to know everything.
Rell forces you to think about your own stance on hot topics as drugs, racism, and social responsibility. He uses the descriptive image to create the world in which characters like Anthony, Superb, Black, and Peter move in and out of seamlessly. He then peppers in black history to reinforce a message i.e. Uncle Omar schooling the boys on how the world sees no matter what they accomplish.
I think this story moved along a moderate pace was structured well. I was engaged from the onset and eagerly turned the page until I was left with an ending that tells me there will be a sequel. Solid characters, educational and entertaining content combined with this writer's talented pen resulted in a well-written story that I would recommend to anyone. Please get your copy below and support the author by leaving a review.
If you've read this far, please comment and share. I would love to hear your feedback.
Until next time, happy reading!