Sister Souljah took the literary world by storm in 1999 when she dropped her best-selling novel, “The Coldest Winter Ever.” Now the activist and author has finally given readers what they’ve been requesting for over 20 years: a sequel.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times last week, Souljah revealed readers would get a new dose of adventures from her beloved heroine Winter Santiago in “Life After Death.”
In the first book’s conclusion, Winter was sentenced to a mandatory 15-year prison sentence for her crimes. Released Tuesday, March 2, the sequel finds Winter in an even worse condition – she’s dead and stuck in purgatory.
It’s true to Souljah’s manifesto to show bad decisions breed consequences.
“I didn’t want to feed the hood a fantasy that going to prison is a joke or a cakewalk. Like ‘Ta-da! Here she is,’ and it’s all good. There are real consequences to the things that happen in real life,” Souljah said. She added Winter’s current fate is intentionally shocking.
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“People have said, ‘It’s so unexpected,’” Souljah added. “And I say, as an author, if I write what any reader expects me to write then I’ve failed because that means the readers could have written the book. I want to write something that you never would have imagined.”
In preparation for writing the novel, Souljah studied a variety of religious texts including the Bible, Torah and Qu’ran as well as Dante’s Inferno. Yet, she still made sure to write in a way that is relatable to readers.
“I want you to read [my] books and be blown away because it was so close to your own soul and experience and you can take things from it and use it in your own real life,” Souljah said.
Though Souljah is often credited with starting the urban/street genre, she considers the label a racist insult.
“When a Black author writes, it’s not literature,” Souljah told the Times. “I mean, who are these ‘street’ people anyway? What are people who are not street authors writing about? The topics are the same. ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is a battle between families that are basically in gangs, so why don’t they call Shakespeare street literature?”
She said she puts as much diligence and research into her works as other authors and it’s disrespectful to “all of that effort by then saying ‘No, this is only urban literature.’”