The Institute for Leadership Studies

and Book Passage present

Leila Mottley

in conversation with Darwin BondGraham

Celebrating the release of


Monday, April 24, 2023

“Astonishing . . . Nightcrawling heralds a bold new voice in fiction.” — Associated Press

Nightcrawling really is a powerful, poignant story worth your attention . . . Revelatory . . . My god—that voice. It’s sometimes too painful to keep reading, but always too urgent to stop.” Ron Charles, Washington Post

“Unflinching . . . Essential to understanding how maddeningly elusive justice can be.” San Francisco Chronicle

A dazzling novel about a young Black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system. This debut of a blazingly original voice “bursts at the seams of every page and swallows you whole” (Tommy Orange, author of There There).

Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison.

But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent — which has more than doubled — and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed. One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.

Rich with raw beauty, electrifying intensity, and piercing vulnerability, Nightcrawling marks the stunning arrival of a voice unlike any we have heard before.

Leila Mottley photo courtesy of Damien Maloney. Darwin BondGraham photo courtesy of Pete Rosos.

About Leila

Leila Mottley is the author of the novel Nightcrawling, an Oprah’s Book Club Pick and New York Times best seller. She is also the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate. She was born and raised in Oakland, where she continues to live.

About Darwin

Darwin BondGraham has reported on gun violence for The Guardian and was an enterprise reporter for the East Bay Express. BondGraham’s work has also appeared with ProPublica and other leading national and local outlets. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was the co-recipient of the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2017. He lives in Oakland, California. You can follow him on Twitter @DarwinBondGraha.

The Riders Come Out at Night – No municipality has been under court oversight to reform its police department for as long as the city of Oakland, CA. The Riders Come Out at Night: Brutality, Corruption, and Cover-up in Oakland is the culmination of over twenty-one years of fearless reporting by investigative journalists Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham. Together the authors shine a light on the jackbooted police culture, lack of political will, and misguided leadership that have conspired to stymie meaningful reform. The Riders Come Out at Night is the story of one city and the explosive scandals, and systematic corruption & brutality in its police department, but it’s also the story of systemic corruption in American policing—and where it’s headed in 2023.

Presented By

Book Passage


Dominican University of California Women, Leadership and Philanthropy


Domenican University of California

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