NEW YORK (AP) — Ta-Nehisi Coates is a prize-winning nonfiction author, journalist and comic book writer. Now he is taking on fiction.
Random House’s One World imprint announced Thursday that Coates has two more books planned, one nonfiction and the other fiction. The books were acquired by One World publisher Chris Jackson, who edited Coates’ best-selling “Between the World and Me.” The book was a Pulitzer Prize finalist last month and winner of the National Book Award.
The first new book is scheduled to come out next year. No other details were made available.
Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and is working on a new Black Panther comic book series for Marvel. He is also the author of “The Beautiful Struggle,” a memoir about his childhood.
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.
“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 Blandand 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.
Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of 24 people selected for this year’s “genius grants” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Tuesday.
Coates, the author of current New York Times bestseller “Between the World and Me,” is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, where he writes about cultural, political and social issues, most prominently racial issues. Recipients receive $625,000 over five years to continue work in their respective fields. Other winners include playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, puppeteer Basil Twist, poet Ellen Bryan Voigt and writer Ben Lerner.
“The Case for Reparations,” Coates’ 2014 centerpiece essay on the state of race relations in the United States, prompted a frenzy of online discussion and debate over the legacy of slavery and institutional racism in America.
Ta-Nehisi Coates can be identified in many ways: as a national correspondent for The Atlantic, as an author and, as of this month, as a nominee for the National Book Award’s nonfiction prize. But Mr. Coates also has a not-so-secret identity, as evidenced by some of his Atlantic blog posts and his Twitter feed: Marvel Comics superfan.
So it seems only natural that Marvel has asked Mr. Coates to take on a new Black Panther series set to begin next spring. Writing for that comics publisher is a childhood dream that, despite the seeming incongruity, came about thanks to his day job. “The Atlantic is a pretty diverse place in terms of interest, but there are no comics nerds,” besides himself, Mr. Coates said in an interview.
His passions intersected in May, during the magazine’s New York Ideas seminar, when he interviewed Sana Amanat, a Marvel editor, about diversity and inclusion in comic books. Ms. Amanat led the creation of the new Ms. Marvel, a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City, based on some of her own childhood experiences.
“It was a fruitful discussion,” he recalled.
After that event, Marvel reached out, paired Mr. Coates with an editor, and discussions about the comic began. The renewed focus on Black Panther is no surprise. Created in 1966, he is the first black superhero and hails from Wakanda, a fictional African country.
“He has the baddest costume in comics and is a dude who is smarter and better than everyone,” said Axel Alonso, the editor in chief of Marvel. The character not only adds to the diversity of Marvel’s comics; he will do it for their films too: Black Panther is set to make his big-screen debut next year in “Captain America: Civil War,” followed by a solo feature in 2018.