Mumia Abu-Jamal’s eighth book written from prison cells in the state of Pennsylvania, USA, is a selection of 107 essays that date from January 1982 to October 2014. They cover practically the entire period of his incarceration as an internationally recognized political prisoner. Most of the pieces were written while he was on death row after being framed for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner on December 9, 1981 in the city of Philadelphia. Some were aired on Prison Radio. The most recent writings date from 2011, when his death sentence was finally ruled unconstitutional and commuted to a term of life imprisonment.
The title of the book brings to mind the traditional gospel song, “Handwriting on the Wall,” based on the bible story told in the Book of Daniel about letters written by a mysterious hand on a wall during a great feast given by the King of Babylon. “Somebody read it. Tell me what it says,” goes the song. “Go get Daniel, somebody said.” When the prophet and former prisoner Daniel was brought in to interpret the handwriting, he told King Belshazzar that his days were numbered and that his kingdom had come to an end. The prophecy was fulfilled that very night.