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Queenie: Godmother of Harlem (Hardcover)
Queenie: Godmother of Harlem isa historical graphic novel inspired by the life of legendary mobster Stephanie Saint-Clair, the infamous criminal who made herself a legend in the 1930s.
“It’s original, entertaining, riveting, moving. A beautiful piece of art, a must-read!” —Whoopi Goldberg
Born on a plantation in the French colony of Martinique, Stephanie Saint-Clair left the island in 1912 and headed for the United States, eager to make a new life for herself. In New York she found success, rising up through poverty and battling extreme racism to become the ruthless queen of Harlem’s mafia and a fierce defender of the Black community.
A racketeer and a bootlegger, Saint-Clair dedicated her wealth and compassion to the struggling masses of Harlem, giving loans and paying debts to those around her. But with Prohibition ending, and under threat by Italian mobsters seeking to take control of her operation, she launched a merciless war to save her territory and her skin. In an America still swollen by depression and segregation, Saint-Clair understood that her image was a tool she could use to establish her power and wield as a weapon against her opponents.
Authors Elizabeth Colomba and Aurelie Levy’s meticulous details—in both story and art—bring Saint-Clair’s story to life in a tense narrative, against a sometimes bloody backdrop of jazz and voodoo. The story tackles the themes of colonization, corruption, police violence, and racial identity, but above all, Queenie celebrates the genius of a woman forgotten by history.
About the Author
From Martinique descent, born and raised in France, Elizabeth Colomba is a representational artist living in New York City. Her previous years as a storyboard artist for Hollywood came in handy to transition from figurative painting to imagining a graphic novel with a cinematic quality. Specialized in postcolonial art, dedicated to reinstalling and liberating the Black body from traditionally restrictive storylines, Colomba analyzes the construction of identity and tangled interrelationship between past and present in our collective identity today. Her works have been exhibited in institutions such as The Met and LACMA and are part of the permanent collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Park Avenue Armory, Yale University, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and JP Morgan.
Aurelie Levy is a screenwriter, novelist, and documentary filmmaker. Born and raised in France, she pursued her higher education in Japan at the prestigious ICU in Tokyo where she studied history. She then extended her film and history studies at UCLA where she met Elizabeth Colomba. She then went on to write and direct six feature-length documentaries. For the past 20 years she has traveled around the globe unveiling relevant stories and addressing current issues. Among the subjects she has tackled are celebrity culture, international adoption, and men in the #MeToo era. Levy writes screenplays and TV series for French and US productions and hosts a podcast on writing with the largest literary media company in France. Other books by the author include the novel And the Oscar Goes To (2012) and The 21st Man (2021).
“I’ve been an admirer of Elizabeth Colomba’s work for a while now. Her work is a vision of history and in particular herstory, which is often left out and left behind for being too clear, too beautiful, too interesting, too horrific . . . I’m excited to see she poured her talent into a new form of storytelling. Queenie: Godmother of Harlem is her new graphic novel where she brings back to life a powerful Black woman erased by history. It’s original, entertaining, riveting, moving. A beautiful piece of art, a must read!” —Whoopi Goldberg—Whoopi Goldberg
“A dazzling, gripping, masterfully illustrated graphic novel that commands your attention from the first page! It’s a remarkable true story about a character who’s larger than life.” —Regina King—Regina King
**STARRED REVIEW** "This smart, sure-footed biography belongs on every history aficionado’s shelf." —Publishers Weekly—Publishers Weekly