Kate Yo
answers thirteen questions in a Booker's Dozen. 

TPQ:
What are you currently reading?

KY: I’m just finishing up Carol Anne Lee’s Somebody's Mother, Somebody's Daughter: True Stories from Victims and Survivors of the Yorkshire Ripper. This is one of those books that deals with true crime but it gives a voice to the victim rather than dealing with the crime and regurgitating trial transcripts. Each chapter is titled by the woman’s name, giving the story of each victim, their circumstances and why those circumstances led that woman to be selected as a victim during the five years of Sutcliffe’s reign. Street walkers, poverty stricken women turning to prostitution to feed themselves or their children. Sutcliffe didn’t rape these women, he simply came up behind them and whacked the back of their heads with a hammer. Blows hard enough to cause him to grunt by their impact. Some of these women were in the areas used for prostitution. He’d pull up beside them, they asked if they wanted some business, charging him a fiver. He took them to a lonely spot, hammer their heads and interfering in their clothing, exposing their breasts, and eventually running a knife along their torso effectively exposing their intestines. 

The police investigation of these crimes was handled very badly, going way off track and led by the nose to believe a hoaxer's letter and audio tape, sending the investigation down a blind alley, hampering it, that led to the time wasted. The hoaxer John Samuel Humble was eventually exposed and jailed. The role of the media played its part, looking for salacious headlines, with the patriarchal attitude that these women out on the street at night and in local bars without their menfolk deserved their fate. Even after death the women’s families bore a stigma that being one of Sutcliffe’s victims meant their loved one was a prostitute when that was not always the case.

TPQ: Best and worst books you have ever read?

KY: I don’t really have a best book but the worst has to be Danny Morrison’s West Belfast.

TPQ: Book most cherished as a child?

KY: Anne Holm’s novel I am David. It was a school book but I really enjoyed it, I think it paved the way for me to Like books that dealt with struggle to be cover come by resistance. 

TPQ: Favourite Childhood author?

KY: As above. Holm and lots of comics such as the Bunty, got from Smithfield's many second hand book shops.

TPQ: First book to really own you?

KY: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Mathew Desmond. Again I love anything with a sociological bent.

TPQ: Favourite male and female author?

KY: This is difficult to chose just one. The two male authors are Michael Connelly, for his Bosch series (but I cannot warm to his Lincoln lawyer series), and Jonathan Kosof’s Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America All his books are fantastic but the best one for me is Rachel and her children, homeless families in America, they may be a bit dated but they are still relevant. 

Female author. Again I’d like to chose two. That would be Rachel Clarke. Her three books are all great reads. A journalist, a mother, a medical doctor and author. I have great respect for her, writing about the NHS in a constructively critical way. She had an event here for her second book where I had the good fortune to meet her, I’m not long finished her third. The second would be Linda Tirado for her blog post that went viral, eventually ending as the basis of her book. Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America.

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?

KY: Fact. Always.

TPQ: Biography, autobiography or memoir that most impressed you?

KY: This is the best question of all. That book would be Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope

The life story of a black kid growing up poor in Treme an extremely poor neighbourhood of New Orleans that David Simon serialised in his mini series of the same name. Any reviews of this book, I’ve read all fail to mention the Black Panther chapter of self defence in the inner transformation of Woodfox. Yet understanding of this is crucial. A young thug who stole from his own people, threatened passers by with a gun, high speed car chases, and stealing cars led Fox at 19 to be released from Angola after two years with no sense of direction. With time on his hands he eventually got into trouble again, but escaped before his court case and left New Orleans. He went to Harlem and was arrested there. He knew if he gave his name he’d be sent straight back, so he gave a false name and ended up in the tombs. That was a real shock to him, coming from Angola an 18,000 former slave plantation to a high building. In Angola he worked outside cutting cane with white guards on horse back and guns in their lap rode up and down the lines of working prisoners shouting they should work harder in suffocating heat. The whites worked inside. On his second time in Angola he was put in to the dungeon straight from reception. They put him in the red hat, the dungeon. The most restrictive cell block in the prison. A tiny cell 3 feet wide by six feet long with a reinforced steel door and a small window. The bunk Was steel with no mattress and a bucket to piss in. He learnt nothing in prison but in the red hat it changed who he was. He writes: 

the conditions there were a test. My anger my hate, the heat, the stench, the filth, the rats and the pressure turned me into something new. When the freeman came to let me out I met his eyes with defiance. He took me back to reception. I was there for ten days.

In New York’s Harlem before his arrest he spotted adult black men and women in black leather clad gear and afros escorting women to cash their government check and get groceries without being robbed. They asked people can you read? If not I will teach you. In the tombs they shared their food and gave political talks. These people were uniting prisoners in the tombs like they did in Harlem. He was impressed by them, leading him to join the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther Party was established in California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale but was officially over by 1982, decimated from the inside out. When eventually his real name was discovered they talked about starting a protest and maybe escape. But then it was agreed he would go back to Angola to start a prison chapter there. In Louisiana again, they offered him a deal that he did not take. He was offered that the police would clean their books on him and give him fake charges, plead guilty and get 15 years max but out in half of that. Instead he went for trial. Louisiana had habitual felon laws, the three strikes and you’re out, except there it was more like one strike. With him already having a felonious charge against him, under the habitual felon law that if you had one conviction they could enhance your sentence, up to life imprisonment even for non violent crimes. Three other members of the Black Panthers arrived in the prison but they kept them separate, cut their afros - and they joined him in establishing the Black Panther prison chapter. He took an oath to the party and received a little red book of sayings from Mao Tse-Tung. The purpose of the party was to educate, agitate and stay strong. While incarcerated there he was fitted up for the murder of a guard, with snitches offering evidence against him. This case was to stay in the courts for forty years. He was in Angola under CCR (Close Cell Restrictive), with his cell being overlooked by four guard towers who were under orders of shoot to kill. 

Eventually he was released in 2016. Where he pleaded for freedom not justice.

Youths were passed through schools that don’t teach, forced to look for jobs that aren’t there, and finally left stranded in the street to stare at the glamourous lives that surround them.

There was still the fight for Black Lives Matter. In the prologue he speaks to activists, welcoming them. He says to them:

look at me and see the strength and determination of the human spirit defy all evil. They did not break me for I have witnessed the horrors of man’s ’cruelty to man. I did not lose my humanity, I bear the scars of beatings , loneliness, isolation and persecution. I am also marked by every kindness.

Who wouldn’t be inspired by that book? 

TPQ: Any author or book you point blank refuse to read?

KY: No.

TPQ: A book to share with somebody so that they would more fully understand you?

KY: Odd question this. I feel that writing out these Q/A’s made me reflect on what I read and has enlightened me to understanding me!! So I’d need more time to think about it.


TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?

KY: I gave an audio book of Ian Cobain’s Anatomy Of A Killing. An excellent read. 

TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?

KY: This is London by Ben Judah. Told from the diverse point of view of those who lived there.

TPQ: The just must - select one book you simply have to read before you close the last page on life.

KY: Don’t know. 

Kate Yo is a Belfast book lover. 

Booker's Dozen @ Kate Yo

Kate Yo
answers thirteen questions in a Booker's Dozen. 

TPQ:
What are you currently reading?

KY: I’m just finishing up Carol Anne Lee’s Somebody's Mother, Somebody's Daughter: True Stories from Victims and Survivors of the Yorkshire Ripper. This is one of those books that deals with true crime but it gives a voice to the victim rather than dealing with the crime and regurgitating trial transcripts. Each chapter is titled by the woman’s name, giving the story of each victim, their circumstances and why those circumstances led that woman to be selected as a victim during the five years of Sutcliffe’s reign. Street walkers, poverty stricken women turning to prostitution to feed themselves or their children. Sutcliffe didn’t rape these women, he simply came up behind them and whacked the back of their heads with a hammer. Blows hard enough to cause him to grunt by their impact. Some of these women were in the areas used for prostitution. He’d pull up beside them, they asked if they wanted some business, charging him a fiver. He took them to a lonely spot, hammer their heads and interfering in their clothing, exposing their breasts, and eventually running a knife along their torso effectively exposing their intestines. 

The police investigation of these crimes was handled very badly, going way off track and led by the nose to believe a hoaxer's letter and audio tape, sending the investigation down a blind alley, hampering it, that led to the time wasted. The hoaxer John Samuel Humble was eventually exposed and jailed. The role of the media played its part, looking for salacious headlines, with the patriarchal attitude that these women out on the street at night and in local bars without their menfolk deserved their fate. Even after death the women’s families bore a stigma that being one of Sutcliffe’s victims meant their loved one was a prostitute when that was not always the case.

TPQ: Best and worst books you have ever read?

KY: I don’t really have a best book but the worst has to be Danny Morrison’s West Belfast.

TPQ: Book most cherished as a child?

KY: Anne Holm’s novel I am David. It was a school book but I really enjoyed it, I think it paved the way for me to Like books that dealt with struggle to be cover come by resistance. 

TPQ: Favourite Childhood author?

KY: As above. Holm and lots of comics such as the Bunty, got from Smithfield's many second hand book shops.

TPQ: First book to really own you?

KY: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Mathew Desmond. Again I love anything with a sociological bent.

TPQ: Favourite male and female author?

KY: This is difficult to chose just one. The two male authors are Michael Connelly, for his Bosch series (but I cannot warm to his Lincoln lawyer series), and Jonathan Kosof’s Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America All his books are fantastic but the best one for me is Rachel and her children, homeless families in America, they may be a bit dated but they are still relevant. 

Female author. Again I’d like to chose two. That would be Rachel Clarke. Her three books are all great reads. A journalist, a mother, a medical doctor and author. I have great respect for her, writing about the NHS in a constructively critical way. She had an event here for her second book where I had the good fortune to meet her, I’m not long finished her third. The second would be Linda Tirado for her blog post that went viral, eventually ending as the basis of her book. Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America.

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?

KY: Fact. Always.

TPQ: Biography, autobiography or memoir that most impressed you?

KY: This is the best question of all. That book would be Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement. My Story of Transformation and Hope

The life story of a black kid growing up poor in Treme an extremely poor neighbourhood of New Orleans that David Simon serialised in his mini series of the same name. Any reviews of this book, I’ve read all fail to mention the Black Panther chapter of self defence in the inner transformation of Woodfox. Yet understanding of this is crucial. A young thug who stole from his own people, threatened passers by with a gun, high speed car chases, and stealing cars led Fox at 19 to be released from Angola after two years with no sense of direction. With time on his hands he eventually got into trouble again, but escaped before his court case and left New Orleans. He went to Harlem and was arrested there. He knew if he gave his name he’d be sent straight back, so he gave a false name and ended up in the tombs. That was a real shock to him, coming from Angola an 18,000 former slave plantation to a high building. In Angola he worked outside cutting cane with white guards on horse back and guns in their lap rode up and down the lines of working prisoners shouting they should work harder in suffocating heat. The whites worked inside. On his second time in Angola he was put in to the dungeon straight from reception. They put him in the red hat, the dungeon. The most restrictive cell block in the prison. A tiny cell 3 feet wide by six feet long with a reinforced steel door and a small window. The bunk Was steel with no mattress and a bucket to piss in. He learnt nothing in prison but in the red hat it changed who he was. He writes: 

the conditions there were a test. My anger my hate, the heat, the stench, the filth, the rats and the pressure turned me into something new. When the freeman came to let me out I met his eyes with defiance. He took me back to reception. I was there for ten days.

In New York’s Harlem before his arrest he spotted adult black men and women in black leather clad gear and afros escorting women to cash their government check and get groceries without being robbed. They asked people can you read? If not I will teach you. In the tombs they shared their food and gave political talks. These people were uniting prisoners in the tombs like they did in Harlem. He was impressed by them, leading him to join the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther Party was established in California by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale but was officially over by 1982, decimated from the inside out. When eventually his real name was discovered they talked about starting a protest and maybe escape. But then it was agreed he would go back to Angola to start a prison chapter there. In Louisiana again, they offered him a deal that he did not take. He was offered that the police would clean their books on him and give him fake charges, plead guilty and get 15 years max but out in half of that. Instead he went for trial. Louisiana had habitual felon laws, the three strikes and you’re out, except there it was more like one strike. With him already having a felonious charge against him, under the habitual felon law that if you had one conviction they could enhance your sentence, up to life imprisonment even for non violent crimes. Three other members of the Black Panthers arrived in the prison but they kept them separate, cut their afros - and they joined him in establishing the Black Panther prison chapter. He took an oath to the party and received a little red book of sayings from Mao Tse-Tung. The purpose of the party was to educate, agitate and stay strong. While incarcerated there he was fitted up for the murder of a guard, with snitches offering evidence against him. This case was to stay in the courts for forty years. He was in Angola under CCR (Close Cell Restrictive), with his cell being overlooked by four guard towers who were under orders of shoot to kill. 

Eventually he was released in 2016. Where he pleaded for freedom not justice.

Youths were passed through schools that don’t teach, forced to look for jobs that aren’t there, and finally left stranded in the street to stare at the glamourous lives that surround them.

There was still the fight for Black Lives Matter. In the prologue he speaks to activists, welcoming them. He says to them:

look at me and see the strength and determination of the human spirit defy all evil. They did not break me for I have witnessed the horrors of man’s ’cruelty to man. I did not lose my humanity, I bear the scars of beatings , loneliness, isolation and persecution. I am also marked by every kindness.

Who wouldn’t be inspired by that book? 

TPQ: Any author or book you point blank refuse to read?

KY: No.

TPQ: A book to share with somebody so that they would more fully understand you?

KY: Odd question this. I feel that writing out these Q/A’s made me reflect on what I read and has enlightened me to understanding me!! So I’d need more time to think about it.


TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?

KY: I gave an audio book of Ian Cobain’s Anatomy Of A Killing. An excellent read. 

TPQ: Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?

KY: This is London by Ben Judah. Told from the diverse point of view of those who lived there.

TPQ: The just must - select one book you simply have to read before you close the last page on life.

KY: Don’t know. 

Kate Yo is a Belfast book lover. 

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