Paul Clemens

March 31, 2006
stack of books

Paul Clemens grew up in the northeast corner of Detroit, just south of the city’s famed 8 Mile border. In his moving and affectionate memoir, Clemens, born the year Detroit’s first black mayor (the legendary Coleman Young) was elected, tracks his own growth to maturity against the background of the city’s long decline during Young’s twenty years at the helm.


Made in Detroit is the story of a young man’s education in social and racial realities most writers would rather avoid. But it is also the story of a literary apprenticeship in the classic American mold. In addition to his youthful Catholicism, Clemens acquired another belief–in reading and writing–and he embraced the writer’s vocation with the enthusiasm that only those raised in a household devoid of books can. Yet, in coming to grips with Detroit, and race relations in America in general, he discovered that there are places–geographic, mental, emotional–where even literature cannot help.

“In Made In Detroit, Paul Clemens tells a personal account of the life and death of an American city. Love among the ruins is never easy, sweet, comfortable, or without a sense of injury, and so it proves here. With clarity, courage, and a deep familiarity with his literary predecessors—from James Joyce to James Baldwin—Clemens has written a book as riven, wounded, and yet surprisingly durable as its subject.” —Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex

Back to the Writers' page
Page Editor: BreezySilver
Last Updated: June 3, 2009