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Aya De Leon politicizes the pulp fiction genre in her new book "Uptown Thief"

Photo courtesy of Aya De Leon

If you came of age in the 90’s in the Bay you might be familiar with Aya de Leon. She was a local slam poet hero who found fame touring the states with her hip hop theater show, Thieves in the Temple. Now, she’s out with her first novel, Uptown Thief, which she calls a “feminist heist novel.” Marisol Rivera is the book’s heroine. She's a kind of sex-positive Robin Hood-- running a resource center for low-income women bankrolled by a high-end escort service. Rivera swindles corrupt CEOs, and funnels the money back to the women supported by her clinic. Aya de Leon came into our studios to speak with KALW’s Jen Chien, and to share an excerpt of her new book.

AYA DE LEON: This book is a heist. The book itself is a cultural heist—I'm stealing an audience that has historically, within the literary industry... read books that don't necessarily have these political values and I'm sneaking these values in there.

To listen to the complete interview, click the audio player above.

Crosscurrents Sights & Sounds
Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.