Monday, October 28, 2013

Troy Johnson's Book Reviews

Marvin, this month's eNewsletter is sponsored by:

Mr. Edward Roy


Author of The Ugly Secrets of Private Roy

This thought-provoking novel chronicles a strong connection between the killings of President John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X. Edward Roy reveals a series of ugly American secrets that were instrumental in bringing the American spirit to its knees.
The characterizations in this book are strong and intense. Despite its serious content, it is peppered with humor and follows a sensuous storyline as it takes a penetrating look at volatile subject matter. As a trophy book, it offers a wealth of challenging and stimulating material for any ultimate conspiracy theorist. Click to purchase The Ugly Secrets of Private Roy (CreateSpace, October 7, 2013).

The Power List – Best-Selling Books – Fall 2013

The Fall 2013 Power is out. Discover the most popular books read by African-Americans. to review the entire list.
We are also proud to announce that MahoganyBooks is now the official Bookseller for the Power list. MahoganyBooks not only helps the Power List elevate Black literature, they do it with competitive prices, offering free shipping on orders over $25 and weekly specials that are the best deals online.

Authors You Should Know


Brenda Jackson Publishes 100th Her Novel!

Jackson, a prolific writer of contemporary multicultural romance novels, is an bestselling author. She is also the first African-American female romance writer to become a USA TODAY and New York Times bestselling novelist. Jackson continues to reach new milestones as her new romance novel, A Madaris Bride for Christmas (Harlequin Kimani Arabesque Press; October 29, 2013) is her 100th original work.
Jackson has lived her entire life in Jacksonville, Florida, and has been married to her childhood sweetheart, Gerald, for forty-one years.

Jason Mott

Mott's debut novel The Returned tells the story of Harold and Lucille Hargrave, whose lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.
The Returned has also been optioned by Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B, in association with Brillstein Entertainment and ABC. It will air in March, 2014 on the ABC network under the title "Resurrection."

Opal Palmer Adisa, Ph.D

Opal Palmer Adisa is a Jamaican born, award winning, poet, novelist, performance artist, ethnologist, educator and more — a true renaissance woman. She is has written for over 100 publications and has performed of her work all over the world.
Adisa’s new book of poetry, 4-Headed Woman, is a journey into and through womanhood—from preadolescence through menopause—and an exploration of women’s relations with one another.

Bill Campbell

Bill Campbell is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumnus of Northwestern University. He currently runs Rosarium Publishing.
His novel, Koontown Killing Kaper, has been called "the Invisible Man of the Hip-Hop Generation." In it Campbell conducts a gleeful evisceration of the social tropes, stereotypes, and conspiracy theories running rampant in today's popular culture. His upcoming novel, Sunshine Patriots is dubbed "Rastafarian Science Fiction."

Charmaine R. Parker

Parker is a journalist who entered her literary career when she joined her sister, nationally bestselling author Zane, to expand Strebor Books. Currently, she is the publishing director for the imprint under Atria/Simon & Schuster. She started writing fiction as a child and worked numerous years in the newspaper industry, including as a metropolitan reporter and a sports copy editor.
In her 2nd novel The Trophy Wives, Charmaine tells the story of three friends who explore ways of finding satisfaction beyond their marriages: Shayla, Kyle, and Amber have a lot in common: stunning good looks, college educations, rich husbands, and—despite their affluent lifestyles— dissatisfaction with their lives. Each feels there is a void and seeks fulfillment beyond the routine of a trophy wife.

Non-Fiction Book Reviews


Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance

Miss Anne in Harlem, by Carla Kaplan is a 503-page book about the noteworthy role played by a certain group of white women during the era referred to as the “Harlem Renaissance”. This historical period spanned the years between the late 1920s and middle 1930s and was so named because it called attention to a black colony of writers, poets, journalists, academics, and political activists all ensconced in Harlem, the quintessential mecca of black life located in the upper section of Manhattan. Upon being discovered by New York’s white literati, this elite black clique referred to as "New Negroes" was suddenly in vogue, and the phrase “Harlem Renaissance" was coined.

A Matter of Life or Death: Why Black Men Must Save Black Boys in America’s Public Schools

Despite the implementation of numerous educational programs since the Sixties such as Head Start, No Child Left Behind and, most recently, Race to the Top, African-American males continue to fare poorly in the nation’s public high schools. Rather than wait for the next federal initiative, Dr. Michael W. Nellums and Dr. Walter Milton, Jr. have decided to do something about it, given the prospect of having yet another generation of inner-city black boys slip through the cracks.
As a principal and former school superintendent with a combined 40+ years of service in the field, these African-American academics feel strongly that it is incumbent upon folks like themselves to intervene. So, they enlisted the assistance of fellow educators in write this book.
*** Recommendations


The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

When prestigious plantation owner Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa’s hand in marriage, she takes with her a gift: Sarah—her slave and her half-sister. Raised by an educated mother, Clarissa is not a proper southern belle she appears to be with ambitions of loving who she chooses and Sarah equally hides behind the façade of being a docile house slave as she plots to escape. Both women bring these tumultuous secrets and desires with them to their new home, igniting events that spiral into a tale beyond what you ever imagined possible and it will leave you enraptured until the very end (St. Martin's Press, September 24, 2013).

The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson grew up black in a neglected neighborhood in America’s whitest city, Portland, Oregon. In the ’90s, those streets and beyond had fallen under the shadow of crack cocaine and its familiar mayhem. In his commanding autobiographical novel, Mitchell writes what it was to come of age in that time and place, with a break-out voice that’s nothing less than extraordinary.
The Residue Years switches between the perspectives of a young man, Champ, and his mother, Grace. Grace is just out of a drug treatment program, trying to stay clean and get her kids back. Champ is trying to do right by his mom and younger brothers, and dreams of reclaiming the only home he and his family have ever shared. But selling crack is the only sure way he knows to achieve his dream. In this world of few options and little opportunity, where love is your strength and your weakness, this family fights for family and against what tears one apart (Bloomsbury USA, August 20, 2013).

White Girls Hardcover by Hilton Als

White Girls, Hilton Als’s first book since The Women fourteen years ago, finds one of The New Yorker's boldest cultural critics deftly weaving together his brilliant analyses of literature, art, and music with fearless insights on race, gender, and history.
The result is an extraordinary, complex portrait of “white girls,” as Als dubs them—an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures as diverse as Truman Capote and Richard Pryor, Malcolm X and Michael Jackson. In pieces that hairpin between critique and meditation, fiction and nonfiction, high culture and low, the theoretical and the deeply personal, Als presents a stunning portrait of a writer by way of his subjects, and an invaluable guide to the culture of our time (McSweeney's, November 12, 2013).

The Contenders: Excerpts of all the 2013 National Book Award Finalists

Excerpts of all the 2013 National Book Award Finalists are now available for download to your Kindle or Nook eReader for Free!
National Book Award Poetry Finalists brings together samples of the five finalists for the National Book Award in each of the four categories, Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young People’s Literature. The winners will be announced at the 64th National Book Awards on November 20, 2013.

Looking for Trouble by Trice Hickman

Looking For Trouble is part of the Unexpected Love Series, which began with Unexpected Interruption.
John Small may be a successful Wall Street banker, but at heart he's a country boy from the sleepy town of Nedine, South Carolina. John wants to open Nedine s first black-owned bank. But big dreams can bring big problems and John s snooty New York City girlfriend is just the beginning. John is about to learn some hard truths about money, power, love, and loyalty. And when his future, and his family's legacy, is in danger, help will come from where he least expects it.

The Most Popular Websites Targeting Black Audiences

Huria Search is tracking the most popular websites generating content for or about African Americans.
  • How many of the top sites are Black owned?
  • Is there is a relationship between ownership and the nature of the content published?
  • How has online content, generated for African Americans, changed over the years?
Tell us what you you think by leaving your comments on the page.

Interviews With Notable People


Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - on “The African Americans”

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is the author of 16 books, has made 12 documentaries, and is the editor-in-chief of The Root, a daily online magazine. In 1981, he was a member of the first class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation, and in 1998, he became the first African-American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal.
Here he talks about his new PBS series, The African Americans, and its companion book of the same name. The show premiered on PBS, Tuesday, October 22nd and will continue through November 26th.

Keke Palmer on her Role as “Chilli” Thomas in Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story

Born in Harvey, Illinois on August 26, 1993, Lauren Keyana Palmer has been wowing audiences since the tender age of 9. Keke first received great acclaim when she starred as the title character in the sleeper hit Akeelah and the Bee, opposite actor Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett.
Here she talks about her latest outing as Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas in Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story, a VH1 original movie.

The Book Look - Season Finale

In their season finale, The Book Look takes on bestselling authors Stephen L. Carter and Victoria Rowell, covers the ebook 12 Years a Slave, and grapples with the stunning suspension of popular on-air contributor Kwame Alexander. Special guest Sadeqa Johnson steps in as host Monda Webb engineers a literary coup, and Harvey Hass Nunes and Charisse Carney-Nunes keep the pages turning!

Film Reviews


12 Years a Slave

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a black man born free in upstate New York in 1808. A skilled carpenter and fiddler, he and his wife (Kelsey Scott) settled in Saratoga Springs where they were raising their children (Quvenzhane Wallis and Cameron Zeigler) when their American Dream turned into a neverending nightmare.
For, in 1841, he was approached by a couple of white strangers (Taran Killam and Scoot McNairy) who offered him a high-paying job playing music with the circus in Washington, DC. However, upon arriving in the Capital, they instead sold him to a slave trader (Christopher Berry) who put Solomon in chains before shipping him to a cotton plantation the Deep South.

The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete

It’s the last day of school for 8th grader Mister Winfield (Skylan Brooks), who comes home to the projects where he lives with his single-mom (Jennifer Hudson), Gloria, a hooker with a heroin habit. His best friend, 9 year-old Pete (Ethan Dizon), isn’t any better off, since his mother (Martha Millan) works out on the corner for the same abusive pimp (Anthony Mackie).
When both their moms disappear, it looks like the Housing Cops will cart them away to Riverview, an institution with a horrible reputation in terms of foster care. So, the boys decide to hide in Mister’s apartment, occasionally venturing down to the tough streets where they must forage and fend for themselves over the course of a particularly, sweltering, New York City summer.

Sweet Dreams

The 1994 Civil War left the beleaguered African nation of Rwanda a bloody mess, both literally and figuratively. Not only had the warring tribes, the Hutus and the Tutsis, hacked each other to death with machetes to the tune of about a million bodies scattered across the countryside, but to this day many of the survivors of the ethnic cleansing remain totally traumatized by the slaughter they’d witnessed.
One survivor, theater director Kiki Katese, determined to do something to alleviate the suffering, asked, “How do you rebuild a human being?” So, she founded Ingoma Nshya (meaning “new drum, new kingdom”), an all-female drumming troupe comprised of both Tutsis and Hutus, with admission being conditioned on checking ones tribal allegiance at the door.

Related Articles


Expansion Books - The last Black Owned Bookstore in Alabama Has Closed

Alabama, the cradle of the civil right movement, lost it's last remaining Black owned independent bookstore a few months ago. Each store's story is unique; here is the perspective of Expansion's owner.
“The challenges I had are the same as any other African American bookseller - being in a town where Walmart stocks Black books and creates a demand based only on the authors they carry - not being able to compete with Walmart prices - trying to convince folks that it's okay to love being Black, it doesn't mean that you hate anyone else - I noticed that folks in Alabama will support Black barbershops and churches, but seem to think that anything else is white folks territory (weird looks when you say you own a bookstore) - and of course, kindles and other e-readers takes away the fiction-reading female customers.
As an aside, I feel the e-readers will be used as a censorship tool, most African-centered history books are not available in e-format and without stores where customers can see them on the shelves, they will be forgotten in a few years. No need to burn the books anymore, just don't make them available in e-format. And yes, I won't be selling books anymore, I'll just get a 9-5.” –Anthony Conley, Expansion Books
For a complete list of independent bookstores, in the United States, that serve the Black community visitHuria Search.

Just Us Books Celebrates 25 Years

Raising their two children in Northern NJ, parents Wade and Cheryl Hudson found it difficult to find quality Black-interest books for children outside of Black History month. The couple decided to fill the void themselves, and went to work developing their own children's books. But publisher after publisher turned the couple down, some outwardly doubting the viability of the Black children's book market. So the Hudsons, in 1988, founded their own publishing company: Just Us Books and their signature brand AFRO-BETSR and the company's success quickly proved doubters wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment