It’s best not to put a label on Sister Souljah, said Bob Minzesheimer in USA Today. Sixteen years after the then-rapper was publicly criticized by presidential candidate Bill Clinton, she’s just published a second novel and watched it debut on The New York Times best-seller list. But don’t tell Souljah, née Lisa Williamson, that she’s transformed herself from cultural lightning rod to a star of “urban lit.” She won’t hear it. “Shakespeare wrote about love. I write about love,” she says. “Shakespeare wrote about gang warfare, family feuds, and revenge. I write about the same things. I don’t want to be limited or ghetto­ized in any way.”

Souljah hopes the new novel, Midnight, will be as well received as 1999’s The Coldest Winter Ever, said Jennifer Schuessler in The New York Times. Souljah’s first foray into fiction won a rave in The New Yorker and is said to have a million copies in print. But the new book’s title at least guarantees a large female audience. In Coldest Winter, Midnight was a handsome young man from Sudan who was so self-disciplined that he declined the heroine’s romantic advances. When Souljah’s readers went crazy for him, she decided to write a prequel that would explain how Midnight became that man. In fact, she willingly labels the novel “an exploration of black manhood.” It’s “constructive criticism,” she says, “wrapped in a passionate teenage love story.”