“Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo” modernizes the concept of the biography away from Boswellian “every ladder rung is vital” structure, and straight to “the good and meaningful stuff — that defines who a person is … and why.”
With laser-like precision, Adam Donaldson Powell bores into Albert Russo’s psyche, while in parallel he analyzes the work of a lifetime. But more often than not, there is a process of cross-fertilization, whether it is clearly identified or on the sidelines. He interviews his subject, not always in a linear fashion, scanning the latter’s important stages of life: there is first Central, Eastern – the former Belgian Congo (now, DRCongo), Ruanda-Urundi (now, the two countries of Rwanda and Burundi) and Southern Africa – Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, where the author was raised, completing high school at the Interracial Athénée of Usumbura (now Bujumbura), studying with European, Congolese, Hutu, Tutsi, Asian and American classmates, both in French and in English (he also went to an all-boys’ school in Salisbury, now called Harare). We then find him in the Big Apple at the age of seventeen, attending New York University, after which, he pursues his studies in German at the Collegium Platinum in Heidelberg. The subject is asked very intimate questions about his private life, with which he is faced for the first time. And he reveals facts he never thought could one day be thrust into the open. But still, he complies, candidly. Mr. Powell illustrates with excerpts of the author’s novels, poems and short stories, which are all either clearly or subconsciously related to Albert Russo’s life, as well as photos, letters and book reviews from Albert Russo’s personal archives. Mentioned are his AFRICAN QUATUOR, the collected poems in the CROWDED WORLD OF SOLITUDE, volume two, his collected stories and essays in the CROWDED WORLD OF SOLITUDE, volume one, and finally, his GOSH ZAPINETTE! series, of which David Alexander writes: “… Be warned, Zapinette’s gems of insouciant wit tend to become infectious. This wise-child’s deceptively worldly innocence takes the entire gamut of human endeavor in its compass. Hardly anyone or anything escapes unscathed. Michael Jackson,Vittorio de Sica, Freddy Mercury, Mao Zedong, Bill and Hill, the Pope, Fidel Castro, and even Jesus of Nazareth all come under Zapinette’s delightfully zany fire as she “zaps” from topic to topic in an irrepressible flux. As the century of the double zeros is with us, we have seen the future and the future is sham. As a healthy dose of counter-sham, Zapinette should be on every brain-functional person’s reading list.” After America, the subject moves to Northern Italy where he will reside nine years, then to Brussels. He spends half of his life in Paris, France, before finally settling in Tel Aviv Israel. When asked what his roots are, he replies that he is a humanist born in Africa, with his virtual roots being the languages which he speaks: English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, vernacular Swahili, as well as those he can only read: Portuguese and Dutch. He will soon add Hebrew. Those cherished languages are much more than forms of speech, they are his planet, from which he extracts much of the sap of his writing. So, don’t be shy. Get Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo. Pre-order details HERE!
DO WATCH ”The Age of the Pearl”, extracted from my new biography “Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo”
READER COMMENTS … regarding UNDER THE SHIRTTAILS of ALBERT RUSSO:
UNDER THE SHIRTTAILS of ALBERT RUSSO ‘can perhaps be likened to skipping a small rock across a pond – creating ripples and reverberations which both reflect the greater omnipotence of the water and temporarily alter its periphery and identity.’ Such is Adam Donaldson Powell the master weaver behind the literary tapestry that is the life & times with a view into poems, novels and picture gallery of one brilliant international award-winning multilingual poet, novelist, essayist, historian and photographer – Albert Russo – a man with a claim to no country yet a citizen of many soils – in his sensitively scripted yet profoundly penetrating work unveiled as ‘an alternative biography’.
— Jeanette Skirvin
This biography crowns five decades of my father’s very prolific writing. Both my brother Alex and myself are immensely proud of our father’s literary achievement. From his very deep insights on the history of Africa, to the birth and struggles of the Israeli state, his poems and immensely entertaining short stories, humorous novels for teenagers, short stories covering the complexities of human nature, there isn’t one topic that my father hasn’t masterfully addressed in his writings.
— Tatiana Russo
We have the pleasure to see all the beauties of literature, poetry and photography of Albert Russo in Adam Donaldson Powell’s brilliant and memorable book “Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo”. Russo’s profound and well-ordered imagination helps him to create great works of literature. Russo never writes his great poems and novels according to any mechanic rule. He has perfected his writings due to “the existential qualm for which my heritage is responsible: Africa, Judaism and Italy. They exist and coexist in cycles, in a fashion so inchoate that I am never quite sure which will take the upper hand.” Powell, the immortal poet famous for his classic “Three-legged Waltz”, points out that Russo “began life as an outsider; the offspring of refugees to Africa from Nazi and fascist persecution then became an outcast via his self-proclaimed ‘gaytude’.” No doubt, this fact has provided the perfection of tone in all his creative endeavors, and this will certainly entice all readers. The true essence of Russo’s writings and photography is revealed by Powell in this unique book. Adam Donaldson Powell’s latest powerful book “Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo” is a tour de force in biography and literary criticism.
— Dr. Santosh Kumar, Editor, Cyberwit.net
To avoid any doubts or confusion, this book by Adam Donaldson Powell is NOT just a biography of the life of Albert Russo, nor is it a synoptic overview of his massive and prolific collection of works of prose, poetry, and photography. This book is something far more than either of these literary vehicles could ever be. Through literally decades of conversations, correspondence, and collaboration between these two very talented authors/artists, Adam Powell gives us a glimpse into not only the very diverse heritage and globe-trotting life and experiences of Albert Russo, but also a glimpse into his very psyche and incredible intellect. In other words, this book lays bare for the world to see what makes Albert Russo one of the few true renaissance men of our times. Russo’s collection of works bridges gulfs of heritage, culture, philosophy, and more – often with more than a hint of his sometimes quirky and off-beat sense of humor. For anyone who has ever read and enjoyed ANY of Russo’s works, this book is a must-read to fully understand the man behind the true art of his words, ideas, and imagery.
– J. Richard Davis, B.A., J.D.
J’ACCUSE, J’ACCUSE ET J’ACCUSE … by Albert Russo.
This is the « rant and rage » essay by ex-Parisian Albert Russo that convinced me to interview him critically, and to write my latest book: « Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo » :
Adam Donaldson Powell on “Under the Shirttails of Albert Russo”:
“All too often we rush to ‘size up’ and categorize other persons, and their ideas, perspectives, lives etc. — this in order to gain more control (and for self-substantiation of the validity) of our own personal worlds. In this ‘alternative biography’ I wished to set the scene for each reader to experience Albert Russo as directly as possible — in Russo’s own words, and with his own emotions; be they joy, exhilaration, rage, rants, indignation, pride, anger or sorrow. Albert Russo is a well-educated, well-traveled, multilingual, well-read adult who has published over eighty books. He thus needs no interpretation of what he ‘really intends to say’; nor does he ever ask for ‘leniency’ or ‘kid glove treatment’. He only expects that his right to freedom of expression be respected, if not celebrated. The publisher and I have given Russo a special platform — an opportunity to finally make the ‘whats and whys’ of his politics and perspectives known in a comprehensive but intimate context. It was very difficult for me — who always has opinions on everything possible — to reign myself in, and allow (and even inspire and cajole) Russo to show himself in a personal way … and thus to effect an interpersonal mind-to-mind and emotional experience in the reader. It is not important that I or any reader agree with Russo in entirety, or even at all. That was not the purpose of the book or the exercise. This book is not about me or my perspectives on anything.
“In this era of struggles between individual identity and personal reality vs. pressures of group political and social correctness it is a lesson in itself to sit back and really try to hear what another person is saying, and how his/her life experiences have contributed to his/her literature and political viewpoints. If Albert Russo is ‘racist’, then surely I and everyone else that I have ever known is also racist. We all have attitudes and value systems that result from trying to find meaning in spite of the particular deck of cards that we have been dealt and the choices that we perceive as possible and necessary. This book allows the reader to put himself/herself in another’s shoes, and quietly ask oneself how s/he might have fared. Perhaps we will all then be able to call ourselves —and Russo — ‘humanists’”.
— Adam Donaldson Powell
“Be kind. Always. You never know what someone else is going through.”
— The Internet