author – activist – faculty – mom
ADVANCE PRAISE from Booklist: “This well-written and enjoyable installment in de León’s unique, feminist, urban crime fiction series, Justice Hustlers (Uptown Thief, 2016), infuses satisfying power in both plot and character. Readers will embrace this heist story with heart and its hero, Tyesha, a smart yet fallible professional and champion for struggling women. [de] León, who is also a poet, social commentator, and head of the Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley, is a crime writer to watch. -Amy Alessio
About THE BOSS: Tyesha Couvillier seems to have escaped her disastrous past on Chicago’s South Side. She’s finished graduate school and stopped working as an escort. Now she’s director of a Manhattan women’s health clinic, and as the new boss, she’s called to lead in labor crisis. The dancers at the One-Eyed-King want to unionize, but the chain of strip clubs is controlled by Ukrainian mobsters with no regard for any laws, least of all labor codes. Meanwhile, Tyesha’s high drama relatives from Chicago have moved to Brooklyn, including Tyesha’s teenage niece who’s trying to break into the rap game. She begs Tyesha to rekindle her romance with a rap star she used to date. Tyesha initially encountered him as a rude client too drunk for sex. He became a promising suitor until he expected an easy lay because of her profession. According to his latest album he’s changed. But can she trust him? She needs a clear head to deal with her more dangerous relatives and the deadly anti-union thugs who threaten her, the strippers, and the clinic.
About UPTOWN THIEF: What happens to a financial genius who’s born brown and female, who grows up poor but voluptuous. Who at seventeen has to put her brilliance to work saving her ass from homelessness and puts her ass to work because orphaned seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican girls with kid sisters to support gotta use what they got. But ten years and a few lucky breaks later, she might find herself with an online degree in bookkeeping and an entry level job at a women’s health clinic for sex workers. But what happens to a financial genius nearly a decade later when she’s running the health clinic and the economy tanks? She might start an escort service on the side to make ends meet. And what if one of the girls starts escorting a client to houses of rich corporate CEOs involved in a sex trafficking scandal? What if those CEOs have wall safes? A financial genius might use the escorts to case the apartments to do a little safecracking. Because sometimes the best donor to a nonprofit is the unintentional donor, and financial genius Marisol Rivera will do whatever it takes to keep the clinic doors open. Her team includes three fierce women: Tyesha, an African American public health graduate student by day; Kim, “the lock whisperer,” a petite Korean immigrant; and Kim’s girlfriend Jodie, a six-foot tall blonde dominatrix. But can they heist a security-obsessed, high profile billionaire? If they succeed, the team and the clinic could be set for life. But there are so many ways her plan could go wrong. Still, Marisol has gotta try it. Because the society keeps churning out brown girls with more curves than cash and more prospects for pimps and sugar daddies than college professors. Somebody’s gotta level the playing field a little. This novel takes the racist, sexist, cliché of the Puerto Rican hooker and turns it on it’s head. Then shakes all the money out of its pockets and gives it to la gente.
“Staking out space for women of color in the heist-fiction genre, Aya de Leon’s smart, sly writing is a knockout.”
-Andi Zeisler, Editorial/Creative Director, Bitch Magazine
“Aya de Leon is a feminist writer to watch.”
-Sarai Walker, author of Dietland
“Our lady with the heart of gold is bold…she knows what’s important and tells her staff, ‘But as long as the female [ass] outearns the female brain, there are gonna be sex workers who need our clinic.’ De León, who teaches poetry at the University of California, Berkley, has written a first novel loaded with heart. Marisol is totally dedicated to her cause, but the author is wise to not make Marisol a saint but rather deeply flawed….this new author’s hard-hitting tale is a welcome addition.”
…de León’s urban adventure combines sexiness with compassion. Marisol is an interesting Robin Hood, and her struggles to help her friends and family, as well as realistic stories of women in shelters seeking refuge from dangerous men, will resonate with readers. De Leon offers erotica with an engaging plot and emotional and social depth.
— Amy Alessio, Booklist advance review
“Marisol and her band of Merry Women are robbing from the rich to help the downtrodden women in her health clinic. Though she is living a life of crime, she has a heart of Gold. You find yourself cheering her on while biting your nails hoping she’ll win out in the end.”
– RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“Uptown Thief is a smart, sexy, sizzling good time of a novel–a daring and irresistible blend of high-voltage action and deeply human storytelling. The women in this book blaze so brightly, you could almost burn your fingers on the pages.”
-Carolina De Robertis, author of The Gods of Tango
“Uptown Thief is a lyrical riot…where corruption lurks in the most unlikely places….A harmonic heist drives our lovable, despicable heroine, Marisol through Manhattan’s upper crust as she discovers the true meaning of sisterhood among thieves.”
-Antonia Crane, author of Spent and co-author of the screenplay The Lusty
“Uptown Thief is a revolutionary novel in disguise, a page turning, plot twisting adventure in feminist class warfare…Aya de León has crafted a story every bit as sneaky and flirtatious as its feisty protagonists. Uptown Thief carries its radical intentions like a switchblade in a rhinestone clutch. You’ll be so swept up, you won’t even notice the blade slide home til it touches your heart.”
-Dr. Aurora Levins-Morales, author of Remedios: Stories of Earth and Iron from the History of Puertorriquenas
“Uptown Thief takes you on a wild ride…a twisty, fun read with snappy dialogue and winning characters, but what really makes it stand out is what it has to say…about the sex trade in America….a refreshing take on the classic heist story, with a team of smart, beautiful women taking on the roles of George Clooney and his buddies in Ocean’s Eleven. Also: it has lots and lots of sex…”
-Heather Young, author of THE LOST GIRLS