Archive for the ‘African American Literature’ Category

Podcast: Authors Discuss Insight to Langston Hughes’s Work Revealed By Letters

June 10, 2014 Leave a comment

My Dear BoyThere is much to be learned about the art of Langston Hughes from reading  letters between Hughes and his mother revealed Carmaletta Williams and John Edgar Tidwell, authors of My Dear Boy: Carrie Hughes’s Letters to Langston Hughes, 1926–1938, on the June 9 edition of KAZI Book Review on KAZI 88.7 FM.

Williams and Tidwell explained that the more than 120 heretofore unexamined letters presented in their book are a veritable treasure trove of insights into the relationship between mother Carrie and her renowned son Langston. Until now, a scholarly consensus had begun to emerge, accepting the idea of their lives and his art as simple and transparent. But as Williams and Tidwell argue, this correspondence is precisely where scholars should start in order to understand the underlying complexity in Carrie and Langston’s relationship.

Carmaletta Williams, professor of English and African American studies at Johnson County Community College, is the author of Langston Hughes in the Classroom: “Do Nothin’ till You Hear from Me” and Of Two Spirits: American Indian and African American Oral Histories. John Edgar Tidwell is a professor of English at the University of Kansas. His previous books include Montage of a Dream: The Art and Life of Langston Hughes, After Winter: The Art and Life of Sterling A. Brown, and Writings of Frank Marshall Davis: A Voice of the Black Press.

To listen to the interview click here:

Podcast: Akashic Books Author Eric Charles May Discusses Novel Bedrock Faith on KAZI Book Review

April 16, 2014 Leave a comment
Eric Charles May

Eric Charles May

Chicago native Eric Charles May recently discussed his debut novel, Bedrock Faith, on the March 24 edition of KAZI Book Review.  In the interview, May discussed how he crafted this novel in part from his experiences growing up in a black neighborhood in Chicago, the gossipy nature of the characters in his fictional middle class community, and  his long journey from journalist to novelist.  To listen to the interview click here: .

Susan Straight Spins Tales of Louisiana Folks Living in California

April 6, 2014 Leave a comment

20140406-080717.jpgTune on to a live interview with Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here, at 12:30 p.m. CST on KAZI 88.7 FM. Between Heaven and Here is her third novel about an African American community of

Susan Straight

Susan Straight

families from Louisiana that came to Southern California after World War 2. In this book, Glorette, once the most beautiful and sought after girl in high school, is found dead in a shopping cart in the fictional community of Rio Seco. Straight uses multiple narrators to tell the stories of what drove the families to leave Louisiana and what struggles the younger generations face trying to survive and prosper.

Susan Straight was born and raised in Riverside, California. She teaches creative writing at the University of California, Riverside and still lives in the community where she was raised.

Justin Gifford Explores the Crime Fiction of Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines, and Others in Pimping Fictions

April 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Justin Gifford was nominated this year for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best Critical/Biographical Book for Pimping Fictions: African American Crime Literature and the Untold Story of Black Pulp Publishing. Interviewing Gifford, who is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Nevada, Reno, is a great follow-up to my interview with Megan Abbott in late 2012 about her book The Street Was Mine, which featured a chapter on Chester Himes.

Growing up in New Orleans in the 1970s, Blaxploitation films were a staple of the movie diet of me and my peers. What I’m interested in are the connections between movies like Coffey, The Mack, and Superfly with the literature of Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines and the gangsta rappers like NWA, Ice T, Jay Z and the late Notorious BIG.

The interview with Gifford will air April 7 at 8am CST.


Listen to Interviews with Debut Novelists James Scott and Jacinda Townsend

March 28, 2014 Leave a comment

The KeptAs stated in an earlier post, the debut novels of James Scott and Jacinda Townsend, The Kept and Saint Monkey, respectively, are two of my favorites this year. The Kept, set in upstate New York in 1897, featured two protagonists, a mother and her 12 year-old son, seeking the killers of their family. What drives the novel is both the trek to find the killers and the unveiling of the secrets of the mother that lead to the tragedy, and her son learning the true story of his family.

Saint Monkey,set initially in rural Kentucky and other places between 1957 and 1963,the twoSaint Monkey protagonists are teenage women growing into adulthood who are best friends growing apart. Townsend captures the essence of the rebellious teenagers with the complication of being black in a segregated world while enduring family tragedy. With a backdrop of the burgeoning civil rights movement, the two women go their separate ways with periodic reunions filled with tension.

Both authors were interviewed on KAZi Book Review earlier this year. To listen to the interviews click: ,

Favorite First Time Novelists of 2014 – So Far

March 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Okay, it’s kind of early to begin handing out awards, but two first-time novelists deserve early recognition.  James Scott, author of The Kept; and Jacinda Townsend, author of Saint Monkey. Check out this New York Times review of The Kept and this review of Saint Monkey in Kirkus Review.

KAZI Guest Eric Charles May Sets New Novel in Chicago’s Black Community

March 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Eric Charles May discusses his new novel, Bedrock Faith, at 8 a.m. CST Monday, March 24, on KAZI Book Review on KAZI 88.7 FM. Set in a middle-class Black neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, May’s novel explores the consequences of a former neighborhood bully’s misguided attempt at redemption. More information on the book is available at:

Eric Charles May, a former journalist, is an associate professor of fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago. Bedrock Faith is his first novel.



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