All Articles Tagged "African American authors"
Whether you’re looking for a fun beach read, hoping to read some personal stories, or want to laugh out loud, African-American authors are set to release plenty of novels and nonfiction books to satisfy your appetite this spring and summer. Here are 10.
We covered a lot of publishing topics this month! Click the following stories to catch up:
Their story reads like a page-turning novel. But that’s probably because they write them.
Cash Money’s Ashley & JaQuavis (aka Mr. and Mrs. JaQuavis Coleman) have hit the New York Times best seller list twice and have co-authored more than 37 novels, all before reaching the age of 27. They have turned street literature into a legit genre as their urban novels consistently sell.
But it is their life prior to being published authors that could be a plot in one of their books. The pair met when they were kids growing up on the streets of Flint, MI. They survived together by the participating in a life of drugs, violence, and crime. Though addicted to the money they made from dealing, they knew they wanted out. They went to college and started writing about their past experiences. By the age of 17, during their freshman year, they were already on their way to ink a publishing deal.
Their street cred is part of the reason their novels have been hits. Among their more popular titles are the books in The Cartel series as well as Murder Mamas; Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang; and Black Friday. Ashley & JaQuavis have been publishing out of one of the giant publishing houses, Simon & Schuster. Together they have written 22 books and separately each has written five books. They have also ghost written more than 10 novels.
The Colemans are readying for the release of various books, including Prada Plan 3 and Murderville 3, the third installment in the Murderville series. The series centers around two youths from Sierra Leone who are trafficked into America — one is forced into the drug game; the other one is turned on to the L.A. sex trade.
Their popularity grabbed the attention of Cash Money Records, which was branching off into literary publishing. They signed on with Cash Money and now they are readying for a film version of one of their books, The Cartel.
Madame Noire spoke with the writing duo.
MadameNoire: Are you surprised at the crossover success your books have enjoyed?
Ashley: I’m actually not surprised. As an artist of any form you have to have the utmost confidence in your work. From day one I knew that we had tapped into a special talent. We don’t just make up hood stories. We convey them intelligently while still keeping it authentic to the streets that birthed us. From the very first book I knew that we were writing classics, but I also knew we had to put in work before we earned our place. I was just waiting for the rest of the world to catch on.
MN: Is it hard not to fall back into that former lifestyle?
Ashley: We’ve never looked back to that lifestyle. There isn’t even the temptation to go back. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to go legit and make a life for yourself without taking any risks. There was a certain appeal to the fast life because it was easy money…but we’re still applying the same principles that we learned coming up in Flint. We’re just applying them to a different game, a business game. There is no temptation because we were never addicted to the lifestyle. We were addicted to the money and our novels and upcoming films have been very lucrative.
MN: If someone wants to make a life transition such as you two have done, what would your advice be?
JaQuavis: If you’re into anything negative, get out of it quick. Use us as an example and turn a negative into a positive. The game ain’t for everybody.
MN: Why do you think so many people can relate to your books?
JaQuavis: We come from a dark place. We know how to intelligently depict what a young child, man, or woman sees in the ghetto. It comes from a real place, that’s why they feel us. They feel the authenticity.
A recent article in The Grio discussed the hurdles that writers of color face trying to get deals from mainstream publishing’s Big Six: Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Random House and Simon & Schuster. Best-selling writing duo Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant declared that their writing careers are on hold due to a variety of issues, including the lack of deals.
So we asked a a couple of writers their opinion on the situation.
“There is the lack of pipeline of people, the absence of a backbench in publishing, because there are not enough new editors from varied backgrounds entering the business. There is a generational problem in publishing; editorial committees green light most projects, but young editors are often outvoted,” notes writer and novelist Pearl Duncan, author of Water Dancing.
She says she has been affected by this directly. “Twice, I had two different young editors at two major book publishers get so excited about a query for my book about African American DNA and ancestry, from the perspective of my ancestors in colonial American and the Caribbean, in medieval Africa and Europe, they responded in 24 hours. But when they took the proposal to the editorial committee, they were overruled by more senior editors. Both were white,” she reveals.
Due to the absence of diversity within the publishing firms many editors don’t understand or appreciate books that focus on the African-American experience. In fact, Duncan was once asked to change the angle of her book about her ancestors because American readers think of African-American ancestors as “victims and will not accept [a] portrayal of them as heroes.” The ancestors Duncan had written about where Maroons who rebelled against slavery on ships and on land, as well as a Scottish ancestor who was an abolitionist.
Because of this attitude in the industry, Duncan has changed her own strategy, hiring a new agent who deals with the editors, leaving Duncan free to concentrate on research and writing.
D Hunter, author of The Game Of Life, feels that if African Americans supported black writers by buying their books, the publishing houses would take note. “Black people need to pull together and start supporting one another more. I feel the big publishers are looking for money, regardless of your color or creed. And if we do not help one another, how can we expect anybody else to? We as black people have had to pave our own way for years against our oppressors and against all odds, so this is not a new hurdle for us,” says Hunter.
Hunter also thinks more blacks should enter the industry and start their own publishing companies. “It is all about presentation and unity. Without that, we are lost to our own devices, complaining when we should be applying ourselves to start our own and move forward,” he points out. “We [should] not look at what others do, but what we can do. There are big names in urban lit, but it was the route they took, the decisions they made along the way, hard efforts, and their writing abilities that put them there.”
Book publishing still relays on in some part who you know. Some literary agents will only take on new writers if they were referred by a current client. This too can be a major obstacle for African-American writers. Says Duncan, “There is no American Idol, The Voice, or X Factor for writers.”
Looking ahead to 2013, several well-known and newly-famous African-American authors are coming out with new books. Additionally, several books focusing on the black experience are also debuting. Check out some books Madame Noire is excited for in early 2013!
Ayana Mathis, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, December 2012
Ayana Mathis struck gold. Her debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was chosen by Oprah to be featured for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Published by Knopf, Twelve Tribes was written while Mathis was studying at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and follows one family through the generations, including the titular Hattie as she participates in the Great Migration to the North from the South.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie has been well received by critics, including The New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani and a starred review in Kirkus Reviews, and the publication date was pushed up to accommodate Lady O herself.
Whether you’re traveling on vacation, sunbathing on the beach, or simply lounging in the park, nothing beats a good book in the summertime. Still, with so many options at one’s disposal, deciding on a title can prove difficult.
Huffington Post BlackVoices has compiled an extensive book list, featuring a range of genres including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, science-fiction and the autobiography.
From Ralph Ellison to Jesmyn Ward, many of the authors have been heralded with national awards in the United States. Others, such as Zadie Smith and Tsitsi Dangarembga, have broken literary ground abroad in countries such as Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Uganda. Stemming back to 1789 with Olaudah Equiano’s “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano,” these 50 titles have heavily contributed to contemporary narratives about the black experience across the globe.
Check out the list at blackvoices.com
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The Christmas holiday is nearly upon us so it’s time to make those lists and check them twice. Instead of buying your dad another tie and your little sister another sweater,why not give the gift of a great book? Also, if you’re going to spend dollars on literature, it’s always good to support Black authors who tell our stories from our perspective. Want another great reason to give your family and friends the gift of reading? You won’t have to throw ‘bows at the mall trying to grab the hottest video game or coolest cashmere. No one’s acting a fool at the bookstore. While you’re there, don’t forget to pick up a little something for yourself to enjoy. Unsure of which title to choose? Here are our picks for the best books by African American authors that have been released in the last 18 months.
(New York Times) — The next time you see Barack Obama gliding into a White House press conference, take note of that jazzy walk. It is a dead ringer for the strut that was the bearing of choice among inner-city cool guys in the 1960s, when Barry Obama was still a tyke growing up in the exotic precincts of Hawaii and Indonesia. The Obama glide represents his embrace of a black aesthetic that was not his by circumstance of birth. It speaks on an intimate frequency to African-American men, who have been smiling in recognition and rating it for style ever since he stepped into the national spotlight. President Obama is acutely aware of how to deploy the physical self to excellent effect. If we looked back closely at 2008, we would no doubt notice him amping up the glide for black audiences and dialing it back elsewhere. Every campaign enlists its own meta-language. As Randall Kennedy reminds us in his provocative and richly insightful new book, “The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency,” the Obama forces disseminated several messages intended to soothe the racially freighted fears of the white electorate.
(The Berkshire Eagle) — This is a story of how a full-time corporate sales executive became an author with the help of a character named Danny Dollar and a dream. “I never aspired to become a writer,” said Tyrone “Ty” Allan Jackson. Born and raised in Bronx, N.Y., he and his wife Martique, who was raised in the Berkshires, moved to Pittsfield eight years ago. They have three children between the ages of 8 and 14: Alia, Ajayi and Aja. “As an African-American male and father, I am always looking for books for my kids. They all love to read very much, but it’s hard to find literature that relates to them with characters that look like them,” Jackson said. “For example, my son loves to read popular books like ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ and ‘The Adventures of Captain Underpants.’ They’re the goofy, fun, upbeat books but the characters don’t look like him. After much looking around, I’ve found that most books that had children characters that were African-American were about very heavy topics like slavery and Jim Crow law,” said Jackson.
by Evette Brown
These former incarcerated authors turned their sentences into real-life experiences for millions of readers.
Dominating the Essence and New York Times bestsellers lists, respectively, street literature, officially recognized as urban fiction, has evolved into a permanent part of American literature. Telling the often tragic stories of African-American men trapped in the gritty realities of urban culture and the women who love them and become victims of vicious cycles, these novels have captivated many in the black community and beyond. With the success of street literature, many African-American authors have been transformed from street-savvy hustlers to literary inspirations and millionaires. Most of these prominent urban authors are using their life experiences to fuel their passion and words. Here, we feature eight urban authors who were once or are still incarcerated. They all have criminal histories, but now their experiences are used to prevent others from following down such a despairing path.
With the release of her 2005 acclaimed debut novel, Thugs and the Women who Love Them, the world was introduced to an emerging talent in urban fiction, Wahida Clark. The “Queen of Thug Love Fiction” immediately built a dedicated foundation of readers that were mesmerized with her depictions of a lifestyle that involved hustling, murder, and millions. Writing about the realities of the “ghetto,” where loyalty is more valuable than life, Clark used her words to create a literary empire.
Though the New Jersey native is one of the most popular authors writing street literature, for most of her Essence Bestselling career, she was once incarcerated in a women’s federal camp in Lexington, Kentucky. After reading a small portion of Shannon Holmes’ B-More Careful in XXL magazine, Clarke made the conscious decision to dedicate the remainder of her nine-year-sentence to creating the “Thug” series, thus sharing her experiences in life with the world. Since her release, Wahida Clark has used her position in literature to expose other urban authors to her audience. She is now the head of W. Clark Publishing and is now regarded as a savvy business woman and wise entrepreneur.
(AP) — “Black in Latin America” (NYU Press), by Henry Louis Gates Jr.: This spring, Henry Louis Gates Jr. produced a four-episode series for PBS tracing the legacy of the slave trade in six Caribbean and Latin American countries. “Black in Latin America” is the book companion to the television series of the same title.