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The New Jersey Historical Society Hosts Book Launch for New Jersey Author Brett Ellen Block's New Literary Mystery Set During the Newark Riots

2006-10-06

New Jersey author Brett Ellen Block launches her third book, THE LIGHTNING RULE, at The New Jersey Historical Society on Wednesday, November 1 at 6:30 p.m. THE LIGHTNING RULE, an intense, tautly plotted literary mystery is set against the backdrop of the riots that swept through Newark in the summer of 1967. Twenty-six died and an estimated 1,100 people were injured. Countless numbers were arrested, and property damage was estimated at $10 million.

What happened in Newark is similar to what happened in cities all across the United States in the 1960s. According to Linda Caldwell Epps, President and CEO of The New Jersey Historical Society, “NJHS is an organization whose mission views New Jersey’s stories as a vehicle to foster dialogue and expand our understanding of our state’s history. We are proud to host the premiere of THE LIGHTNING RULE, a New Jersey story.”

Fascinated by her father’s stories about his hometown of Newark and conscious of the city’s troubled past, Block combines a powerful tale of suspense with a pivotal chapter in Newark’s history. Publication date is November 1 (William Morrow/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, $24.95, ISBN# 0060525061).

“July 2007 will mark the fortieth anniversary of the riots, and my hope is that this book will help increase awareness about this often overlooked slice of history while providing a compelling and entertaining story,” says Block, who received her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from the University of Michigan, then went on to earn graduate degrees at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of East Anglia’s Fiction Writing Program in England. Her debut collection of short stories, Destination Known, was awarded the Drue Heinz Literary Prize, and she is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. She is also the author of the highly praised novel The Grave of God's Daughter.

The award-winning author will read from THE LIGHTNING RULE and discuss her approach to writing this historically based novel, which redefines the traditional thriller and raises questions about the state of race relations today.

The launch of THE LIGHTNING RULE is just the start of a series of programs planned by The New Jersey Historical Society that will explore the civil unrest of the 1960s. The programs are related to the Historical Society’s upcoming exhibition, “What’s Going On?” Urban Unrest of the Sixties, scheduled for Summer 2007– which will use photographs, audiovisual programs, and interactive media to closely examine the causes of the turbulent climate and events that led to the civil upheaval.

“The New Jersey Historical Society has embraced the arts as a way to illuminate history and expand our understanding of our diverse past and encourage engagement in the future,” continues Ms. Epps. “THE LIGHTNING RULE and the “What’s Going On?” exhibit both examine the issue of urban upheaval in a palatable and honest manner that will foster dialog about the events of 1967 in a new eclectic fashion that will stimulate our thinking about the time period.”

Additional programs such as guided walking tours, lunchtime lectures, family activities, and Community Conversations will round out the lineup of events.

The New Jersey Historical Society is located at 52 Park Place, Newark, NJ, across from Military Park, one-half block from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Please contact the Historical Society at 973-596-8500 or check out our website at http://www.jerseyhistory.org for more information. While there, don’t forget to stop by our online auction! October 16, 2006 until November 14, 2006, we will be auctioning off a variety of fun and unique items. All proceeds benefit The New Jersey Historical Society’s educational programs, museum exhibitions, and library collections. The online auction will culminate in a fundraising Gala and live auction event at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange on November 16.

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