All Articles Tagged "black authors"
Chances are you’ve heard of erotica author Zane. Whether you started reading her books years ago or you just happened to catch her “Sex Chronicles” on Cinemax in the past few years, you’ve probably seen her work in one way or another. Madame Noire caught up with Zane to talk about her new book Z Rated and see why she tried to hold on to her anonymity for as long as possible.
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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 Daily Beast) — It’s the morning of Corpus Christi, Fête Dieu, in Haiti. The sun rises early, along with a chorus of voices singing hymns all over Port-au-Prince. Altar boys in flowing white robes and girls in communion dresses weave rosary beads through their fingers. Their parents walk at their side, their faces glowing in the sun. CORPUS Christi processions are meant to commemorate Christ’s body in pain, but many Haitians have their own pain. The procession circles a displacement camp where mothers are bathing their children in front of the layers of frayed tarp they call home. Before entering the crowd with her grandmother, my 6-year-old daughter, Mira, who is returning to Port-au-Prince for the first time since the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, repeats something she’s told us many times since we landed in the city: “I thought everything was broken.”
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.
In the 40-plus years since Robert “Iceberg Slim” Beck released Pimp, the audience for so-called “street literature” has remained faithful to the genre, making bestsellers of Beck’s contemporaries and successors like Donald Goines, Omar Tyree, Teri Woods, and more recently Sister Souljah. But in 2008, after penning 16 novels, Tyree dramatically retired from the genre via a blog post.
“I’m done with writing all urban fiction,” he wrote, lamenting what he said was the “[urban audience’s] love for grit, crime, sex, broken hearts, drama, and other bullshit.” Calling his own work “urban classics,” Tyree juxtaposed street lit against what he termed “responsible lit.”
This debate rages on in the field of black publishing today. Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and James Baldwin represent the African-American literary canon with their musings on race, feminism, and sexuality, while so-called “Street Lit” continues to occupy a controversial, but commercially successful spot in the hearts of African-Americans. Though most of us fall somewhere in the middle in reading preferences, the anxiety commonly felt about this contrast is not so much about the poles themselves, but distress over being defined solely by “low culture.” Centuries of being stereotyped will do that to a people.
Leading authors in this field see this struggle between telling gritty tales and promoting laudable writing as more complicated than judging street lit as all bad — or good.
Torrey Maldonado, author of Secret Saturdays does not appreciate the distinction of this label at all. “I’ve heard people call [the genre] ‘street lit’ and it kind of discredits the type of literature that it is,” he told The Atlanta Post. Maldonado, whose book is set in Brooklyn’s Red Hook Housing Projects, adds: “Although Secret Saturdays is set in an urban environment, it deals with universal themes… You can’t say because a black boy is on the cover of the book, that this book is only for black people.”
But that’s exactly what many people assume, says author David L who does not publish under his full name because he wants to keep his identity as an author separate from his role as head of the company Total Package Publications. “That’s one of the reasons I don’t even put my picture on the back of my book,” L explains. “I want to be known for the type of fiction I write, not because I’m an African-American author who wrote about a specific subject matter.”
(The Root) — With the publication of her third novel, Silver Sparrow, things are happening to author Tayari Jones that rarely happen to writers, especially writers who are women. And these things that are happening to Tayari Jones almost never happen to writers who are African-American women. Even before Silver Sparrow was bound and ready to be bought, her publishing company, Algonquin Books, hosted a series of luncheons, filled the room with booksellers and brought in just one author — Jones — to meet the people who decide which books to place on prominent display, recommend to readers and sell. Also unheard of in publishing: Algonquin then sent Jones on a tour of not three, not 10, not 20 — but 40 cities around the country.
(Philadelphia Inquirer) — She had to kill off Precious. That was what Sapphire, the 60-year-old author of the 1996 underground classic Push, the novel that was the basis for the unflinching movie Precious,concluded. The California-born literacy teacher, poet, and author had no choice, given her commitment to social realism: An HIV-infected black woman in the 1980s would not have lived long enough to make it past the first page of her sequel, The Kid (Penguin Press). So, the new book, to be published Tuesday, begins with Precious’ funeral. ”At the time Precious is diagnosed with HIV, African American women who were diagnosed with HIV were dying at a higher rate than white gay men,” said Sapphire, who will appear at the Free Library of Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. “For Precious to have made it as long as she did, to age 27, was a miracle.”
(Project Q) — When Atlanta blogger Darian Aaron decided a year ago to take a respite from his popular blog,Living Out Loud, he wanted to focus his writing on a decidedly different format: a coffee table book. The book explores black LGBT issues by profiling 18 same-sex couples of color. With “When Love Takes Over: A Celebration of SGL Couples of Color” now out, Aaron is back to crafting new content for Living Out Loud. But he won’t promise his audience daily updates – there is a fulltime job and partner to attend to, after all. We recently caught up with Aaron, just a day after putting his hands on “When Love Takes Over” for the first time, and chatted about the blog, the book and what his day-to-day life is like now.
(Des Moines Register) — The author, the screenwriter and the producer grab a table in the back of the Ingersoll Avenue coffee shop and go to work. Papers, notecards and legal pads are strewn before them as they begin organizing the screenplay for the author’s first book. ”I keep coming back to the tough-minded authenticity here and the unapologetic tone,” says the screenwriter, James Serpento. “This is not the Hallmark story of a bad man gone good.” Not in the least. Amid all the shooting, stabbing, drinking, hustling, fleeing and turf protecting, there isn’t much to like about the protagonist in Alf Freddie Clark’s 2005 autobiography, “Satan’s Mask: A True Story of Deception, Murder, and Betrayal.”
In the aftermath of September 11th Kola Boof raised more than eyebrows with the assertion that she and Osama Bin Laden were once lovers. Like the opinions the Sudanese native shares as an outspoken writer and poet, the affair remains controversial and questionable in many circles. In the following essay Boof revisits her days with “Somi” and invites us to consider the way in which her race has fueled suspicion about the relationship.
by Kola Boof
In 2002 when the London Guardian newspaper outed my forced sexual relationship with terrorist Osama Bin Laden, the American media initially had no problem with revelations that Somi kept an Egyptian-Sudanese mistress in Morocco in 1996. My birth name, Naima Bint Harith, summoned visions of an Arab-raised aristocrat who they assumed would look like Cher. When they found out I was not only Black—but looked fully Black—and that I’d been adopted and raised by Black Americans in the United States and returned as an adult to North Africa as a model-actress, they immediately announced that I was less attractive than Prince Charles’ mistress Camilla Parker Bowles or President Clinton’s mistress Monica Lewinsky and that it couldn’t possibly be true.
Though I was featured in a two-part interview with MSNBC where I was billed as “Former Mistress of Osama Bin Laden,” and not alleged-former mistress, and was allowed to tell my story in my own words—Peter Bergen, supposedly the world’s preeminent Bin Laden expert, insisted I was making up the story and other American experts claimed that the billionaire “bin ladin” family had an upper class etiquette that would not allow an “overtly religious non-sexual” Arab Muslim Osama to have a Black mistress (yet two of Somi’s twenty-five children are black and his Syrian grandmother would be considered a Black woman in the United States). Connie Chung and her producers at CNN asked my lawyer point blank, “Why would a man of Bin Laden’s wealth and stature have a Black mistress?”
Luckily, I had very good witnesses to my experience with Bin Laden. The Italian born Prince Fabrizzio Ruspoli (owner of La Maison Arabe, at that time a bed and breakfast in Morocco’s Medina where Osama kept me) and Ruspoli’s lover Phillipe were the ones who saved me and my children from being deported by telling the U.S. State Department the truth—that I had appeared to be unhappy living with Bin Laden and that I clearly wasn’t free to leave the estate without Somi’s guards. Prince Ruspoli and Phillipe, who have since renamed the hotel’s Orange Sponge cake after me, witnessed that I was the only female in Osama’s party and that I was being monitored at all times. I was housed for six months in the Winston Churchill Room (named so because it had been the room that Churchill always stayed in) and when Somi came to Morocco to hunt Snipe, he slept in my room. Still, for fear of losing business once La Maison Arabe became a hotel, Prince Ruspoli distanced himself from the story, refusing to comment other than to the U.S. State Department and admonished me to let it die and go on with my career as a Womanist Author.
I would have loved to have let it die! Especially since I wasn’t the one who revealed my relationship with Osama and had even originally tried to deny it (see London Guardian newspaper)—but the brutal disrespect by the Americans wouldn’t stop and led to a public confrontation with Peter Bergen—a showdown that left Bergen defeated.
Bergen, who’d earned millions writing the supposed facts about Osama, attacked me for years with such ferocity that I felt forced to write my autobiography, “Diary of a Lost Girl.” When the book was released, Bergen wrote that Bin Laden’s right hand man Ayman al Zawahiri had been imprisoned in Dagestan in 1996 (making it impossible for Zawahiri to attend a party in Morocco with Somi and myself). I blew Bergen out of the water with the fact that Ayman al Zawahiri had been arrested in December 1996 and not imprisoned until April 1997—clearly making the information in my book, the woman who shared Bin laden’s bed and inner circle, more accurate than Bergen’s, the White journalist who never knew my ex-boyfriend and has never been able to track him down.
Why am I revisiting this now?
Because as a Black Woman who tells the truth yet never seems to be set free by the truth—I’m tired of being told by my own little “Birthers Movement” that I’m a fraud who wasn’t born in Africa but rather Nebraska. I’m tired of being told by Americans both White and Black that because I’m cocoa-skinned, I’m automatically ugly and undesirable. For the record, I’m prettier than Camilla Parker Bowles, Monica Lewinsky and all four of Somi’s wives. I am a chocolate colored African woman living in America and I have never been without a man—I’m not bitter or alone. I am a beautiful intelligent outspoken Egyptian Sudanese American Sunni Egypto Gisi-Waaq Oromo chocolate womanist who never wanted it known that she’d been with our generation’s Hitler and has found that being “Hitler’s girlfriend” does not sell books or make one popular, in fact it’s done the opposite—almost ruined my career and caused my children irreparable grief.
Still, I am glad that I will not end up like impregnated twelve year old slave Sally Hemmings and so many other Black concubines—raped and erased beneath hundreds of years only to resurface with their dehumanization portrayed as a love story in a television mini-series. Rarely do African women victimized on African soil get to write their own truth. I, Kola Boof, stand by mine.
Kola Boof’s latest book, The Hot Part of the Bible, will be released by Akashic Books in July 2011.