Tag: black authors

Ta-Nehisi Coates Receives National Book Award For Nonfiction; Robin Coste Lewis for Poetry

Ta-Nehisi Coates marked another professional triumph Wednesday night by winning the National Book Award for nonfiction for “Between the World and Me,” his timely, bestselling meditation on race in America.

In an acceptance speech that prompted a standing ovation from the black tie-clad crowd at Cipriani Wall Street in New York, Coates dedicated the award to Prince Jones, a Howard University classmate who was killed while unarmed by a police officer and who figures prominently in the memoir, written as a letter to Coates’ teenage son.

As Coates explained, the officer responsible for Jones’ death was never disciplined for the killing.

“I’m a black man in America. I can’t punish that officer. ‘Between the World and Me’ comes out of that place,” said Coates, a national correspondent for the Atlantic who was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in September.

National Book Award Poetry Winner Robin Coste Lewis (photo via poetry project.org)
National Book Award Poetry Winner Robin Coste Lewis (photo via poetryproject.org)

“We are in this moment where folks are recording everything on their phones. Every day you turn on the TV and you see some sort of violence being directed at black people,” Coates said, alluding to controversial incidents caught on tape, including the death of Eric Garner, the arrest of Sandra Bland and the killing of Walter Scott, an unarmed man shot and killed in South Carolina this year.

“I have waited 15 years for this moment, because when Prince Jones died, there were no cameras, there was nobody looking.”

Robin Coste Lewis was also named a winner last night – she took the poetry prize for her debut collection, “Voyage of the Sable Venus,” a reflection on the black female form throughout history.

article by Meredith Blake via latimes.com

BOOKS: 13 Must-Reads by Black Authors to Add To Your Library

In light of the recent events surrounding racial and social injustice around the country, knowing our history, as part of our eternal quest to “stay woke,” is more important than ever. While many of us are experiencing a new movement unfolding right before our eyes, scholars, experts and even regular folks with stories to tell, have been putting their experiences to the page to enlighten generations.

The publishing industry suffers from the same lack of diversity and racial biases that plague society at large. While many books don’t make school reading lists or even the New York Times Bestsellers List, there are countless classics that break down the Black experience in America.

It’s hardly a complete list, which could go on for volumes, but it’s a great starting point:

1. The Mis-Education of the Negro, Carter G. Woodson

Portrait of Carter Woodson
Carter Woodson (Source: Hulton Archive / Getty)

This book is of primary importance in understanding the legacy of slavery and how it affects Black Americans’ perspectives in society. The book essentially argues that Black Americans are not educated, but rather conditioned in American society. It challenges Black Americans to “do for themselves” outside of the constructs that are set up for them.

2. And Still I RiseMaya Angelou

Maya Angelou Signs Copies Of 'Maya Angelou: Letter to My Daughter' - October 30, 2008
Maya Angelou (Source: Jemal Countess / Getty)

This is one of the most affirming books you will ever read. Technically, it is a collection of poems which focus on hope, determination and overcoming struggle. It contains one of Angelou’s most famous poems, Phenomenal Woman.

3. The Souls of Black FolkW. E. B. Du Bois

Portrait of W.E.B. DuBois
W.E.B. DuBois (Source: Underwood Archives / Getty)

One of the most important books on race in sociology and African-American studies, it is a collection of essays that Du Bois wrote by drawing from his personal experiences. Two of the most profound social concepts – The Veil And Double Consciousness were written about in this book which have come to be widely known as part of the experience of being Black in America.

4. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
'The Color Purple' TimesTalks: Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, Alice Walker, John Doyle
Alice Walker (Source: D Dipasupil / Getty)

You may have seen the movie from Steven Spielberg or the recent Broadway musical, but I highly encourage you read this powerful novel, too. The book explores in depth the low position Black women are given in society through the lens of a particular group of women. The story explores both interpersonal turmoil and socially-inflicted violence toward Black women, as well as the bonds they share.

5. Things Fall ApartChinua Achebe

NIGERIA-LITERATURE-BOOK-CULTURE-ACHEBE-FUNERAL
Chinua Achebe (Source: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / Getty)

This book is among the most critically acclaimed ever written by an African author. Through the character Okonkwo, his family and the experiences of his village, Achebe tells the tale of colonization and its effects on African communities, particularly in Nigerian traditional social life.  Continue reading “BOOKS: 13 Must-Reads by Black Authors to Add To Your Library”

Black Authors Thrive Through Business of Black Book Clubs

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Over the last 20 years, the channels for discovering new books, especially books by first-time and emerging authors, have shrunk or disappeared. Newspapers and magazines dedicate mere slivers of arts sections to book reviews — if at all. Those papers like the New York Times that do devote more space to book coverage rarely review debut authors. Likewise, bookstores prefer to invite already established, bestselling, or celebrity writers to do readings and signings. That leaves Oprah — and the Queen of Talk has endorsed only 72 books since she started her eponymous book club in 1996, including the two she has recommended since her 2.0 reboot.

It’s even more difficult for black authors — new and established — to get their books on readers’ radars. As it is, African-American interest books receive a mere fraction of the coverage noted above, and with the closing of more than 100 black-owned independent bookstores in the last 15 years, as well as the shuttering of Black Issues Book Review there are even fewer places for black authors’ work to gain visibility. MosaicAfrican Voices, and the new Spook can only review so much.  “The last [issue of] Essence covered the same book Oprah covered,” observed Troy Johnson, founder of the African-American Literature Book Club better known as AALBC.com.

In this landscape, black book clubs offer authors a valuable — albeit extremely competitive —promotion and sales channel. “[Book clubs] have advanced far beyond the small get-togethers in someone’s living room,” says Carol Mackey, editor-in-chief of direct-to-consumer book club Black Expressions.

Continue reading “Black Authors Thrive Through Business of Black Book Clubs”