Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Bayo Ojikutu  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult; Adult; Young Adult;

Born: 1971 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

The author was born and raised in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Ojikutu graduated the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s of Arts inPolitical Science. He has taught creative writing at the University of Chicago, the GrahamSchool of Continuing Studies and DePaul University.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

47th Street Black: A Novel
ISBN: 0609808478

Broadway Books. 2003

The prize-winning debut of an incendiary new voice in contemporary American fiction, 47th Street Black is the story of JC and Mookie, whose rise in the gangster-driven ghettos of Chicago is as swift as it is brutal.

In the early sixties, 47th street is the heart of black Chicago, where recent migrants from the South come to move up in the world. JC and Mookie are high school dropouts, playing stickball in the street when they stumble upon the dead body of the area's black liaison to the mafia. Where others would run, Mookie sees opportunity, and in no time he and JC are working for Salvie, the local boss. Within a year, they are the most infamous figures on 47th Street, best friends and partners with flashy cars, clothes, and women.

As they alternate telling their stories, the balance of power shifts: smooth, charismatic Mookie becomes the de facto leader and small, violent JC the enforcer—roles that send JC to jail for a murder they commit together. In the 15 years he's away, JC gains an education and a resentment he can't control, while Mookie gains power over the entire South Side. By the time JC is paroled, both the neighborhood and the two men's lives are on an inexorable path to an explosive confrontation with simmering injustice.


  • Washington Prize for Fiction ,
  • 47th Street Black

  • Great American Award ,
  • 47th Street Black

  • Black Excellence Award (Outstanding Achievement in Literature-Fiction)


    Free Burning

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)