James Kilgore was a 1960s political activist in California, who ultimately became involved with the Symbionese Liberation Army. In 1975, he fled a Federal explosives charge and remained a fugitive for 27 years. During that time, he rejected the politics of small group violence and built a life as an educator, researcher, activist, parent and husband in Southern Africa. Using the pseudonym of John Pape, he earned a Ph.D. and authored a number of academic articles and educational materials and co-edited the acclaimed 2002 anthology: Crisis of Service Delivery in South Africa (HSRC, Cape Town and Zed Press, London). Authorities arrested Kilgore in November 2002 and extradited him to California where he served six and a half years in state and Federal prison. While incarcerated, he worked as a teachers’ assistant and also completed the drafts of eight novels and a screenplay. Umuzi Publishers (Cape Town) released his first work, We Are All Zimbabweans Now, in June of 2009. Two of his subsequent novels are contracted for release in 2011, Prudence Couldn’t Swim (PM Press, Oakland, CA) and Freedom Never Rests: A Novel of Democracy in South Africa (Jacana Media, Johannesburg).
He presently lives with his family in Illinois where he is a Research Scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of Illinois.
Prudence Couldn’t Swim
Author: James Kilgore
Publisher: PM Press / Switchbade Series
Format: Paperback, ePub, PDF, mobi
Size: 5.5 x 8
Page count: 208
“James Kilgore’s writing is a refreshing blend of literary talent and political insight; something sorely missing from much of the fiction penned by writers on the Left. His wit, swift pacing, and dead-on characterization are skillfully woven into an unflinching vision for radical change and social justice. So often we are told that a commitment to radical change and a rollicking good read mix like oil and water. Along comes Kilgore to put that lie to rest!”
—Frank B. Wilderson III, author of Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid
“James Kilgore is a masterful writer, and as a U.S. activist who has lived in Africa most of his adult life, Kilgore is able to connect us to politics and culture as no other writer. This character-driven mystery promises to find a devoted following.” —Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War.
- Watch The 13th: A Documentary Trailer
- James Kilgore Interview in the London Times
- Prisoners and Race: PW Talks with James Kilgore
- James Kilgore Wikipedia
- Talk given at Center for African Studies
- Sensory diaries and fiction-writing in prison (a blog)
- The Rise of Electronic Monitoring in Criminal Justice
- James Kilgore’s Talk at the University of Johannesburg
- Repackaging Mass Incarceration
- Fighting Mass Incarceration Under Trump: New Strategies, New Alliances
- Keeping the Spirit of the Prison Labor Strike Alive
- The First Step Act Opens the Door to Digital Incarceration
- Inside the Prison Labor Strike: New Tactics Pay Off in Mainstream Coverage