Janee’s Canon: Tyehimba with a Harlem Hustler

The only way to describe Agyei Tyehimba’s Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler is to say that it is an eye opening experience. There is so many great things about this book that the only way to do it justice would be to write a ten page paper on it with an annotated bibliography. I can’t do that, but I will give you some insight into what makes this book one of my favorite books ever. I have to say when I first opened this book I was prepared to dismiss it. I was afraid it would be like every other “urban” drama book I had read before. Poor kid in the hood becomes un-poor kid by selling drugs; he gets cars, women and jewelry but also watches friends be shot and killed over drugs. The funny part of these novels is that with all the death and violence, the books still glorify drug dealing because it leads to wealth and a way out of the hood. Game Over doesn’t do this at all. Azie Faison is the spokesperson for never entering the drug game. He describes the paranoid dreams and worries that plagued both his nights and days, the murders of his close friends and the corrupted environment that is the drug game.

Agyei Tyehimba needs much praise for his writing of this novel. His style of writing comes off as if he was simply the recorder and Mr. Faison is writing the book. Game Over’s autobiographical nature makes it more relatible to me. I spent most of the book feeling like Azie Faison was sitting in my kitchen having a direct conversation with me over breakfast.

Most importantly, Azie Faison dropped out of 9th grade yet there are moments in the book where you see that even without a formal education Mr. Faison is deep and intelligent. He logically makes conclusions that are enlightening to you and does it without fancy language; his words are completely down to earth. For example, Azie Faison speaking on the psychology behind the term “trying to be white.”

“As a child I remember people always teasing black kids who dressed differently, spoke differently, or listened to ‘white’ music…Many youth grow up feeling ashamed to be themselves for fear of being labeled ‘white’. What message does this send?”

This book should be required reading for high school students because Azie Faison both speaks their language and relays a message of the evils of the drug game and other aspects of life. I can’t express to you in words how great this book is, so you need to go pick up Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler now for $10.20.


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By Janee Nesbitt

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