It was back in 1999 when bestselling author and activist, Sister Souljah, published her debut novel, The Coldest Winter Ever. A global classic with continuous sales that exceeded the million dollar mark, it introduced readers to a poignant character called Midnight, a Sudanese Muslim with a checkered past.

In Souljah’s follow-up novel, Midnight: A Gangster Love Story, published in 2008, the multifaceted Midnight was explored in further detail, but readers were left with a cliffhanger when Midnight’s wife, Akemi Nakamura, a 16-year old Japanese artist was kidnapped.

In her latest offering Midnight and the Meaning of Love, the story picks up as Midnight, a Ninjutsu trained warrior, embarks on a calculated mission to recapture Akemi, who has been kidnapped by her father. A coming-of-age love story, which introduces readers to several different cultures, Souljah (who spent the last three years in Japan and Korea researching the book) clearly understands the culture which she writes about. With an acute ear for dialogue and the poetry of the street, her writing is a cliché-free depiction of gritty urban reality. In one narrative burst, she describes Busan, Korea as having “a yolk-yellow sun, a white sky; the bluest sea, mounds of gold sand, and an aggressive, warm and moist wind.”

Journeying from Africa, Europe to Asia, the tale unfolds slowly, but is still superbly written in a colorful and colloquial language. Elaborately constructed, Souljah’s description of her eclectic characters and events are apt and yet subtly poetic. “In Sudanese tradition,” she writes, “Shame is a heavy burden, like wearing a jacket and pants and a hat and even boots all filled with lead.”

Combining her street knowledge and academic excellence, she beautifully interweaves several themes that include love, religion, and faith as we follow Midnight’s explosive journey to Japan in a quest to get back the women he loves.

Grade: B+

Midnight and the Meaning of Love is currently available.