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Archive for the ‘African American Authors’ Category

PODCAST: Lawrence Jackson Discusses Biography of Black Author Chester Himes

September 17, 2017 Leave a comment

In Lawrence Jackson’s monumental biography, CHESTER B. HIMES, readers are introduced to one of the most prolific and underrated Black writers of the 20th century.   Himes, who lived from 1909-1984, was the author of 17 novels and numerous short stories.  Himes was a black literary realist who used fiction to honestly express the rage he felt at racism, despite the criticism of some of his contemporaries that his perspective was too bleak.  It was his Harlem detective novels that paved the path for enduring financial success as two of those novels were made into movies in the 1970s, Cotton Comes to Harlem and Come Back Charleston Blue.

Lawrence P. Jackson is a Professor of English and History at Johns Hopkins University and also the author of RALPH ELLISON: Emergence of Genius.

 

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PODCAST: Vanessa Valdes Discusses Biography of Arturo Schomberg

September 17, 2017 Leave a comment

In Vanessa K. Valdes new book, DIASPORIC BLACKNESS, she examines the life of Black Puerto Rican–born scholar, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, (1874–1938) was a well-known collector and archivist whose personal library was the basis of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Born in 1874, Schomburg cofounded the Negro Society for Historical Research and lead the American Negro Academy, all the while collecting and assembling books, prints, pamphlets, articles, and other ephemera produced by Black men and women from across the Americas and Europe. His curated library collection at the New York Public Library emphasized the presence of African peoples and their descendants throughout the Americas and would serve as an indispensable resource for the luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston.

Vanessa K. Valdés is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the City College of New York, City University of New York. She is the editor of Let Spirit Speak! Cultural Journeys through the African Diaspora and the author of Oshun’s Daughters: The Search for Womanhood in the Americas, She currently serves as Book Review Editor of s/x salon, an online literary salon on Caribbean literature and culture.

Review of Deji Bryce Olukotun novel AFTER THE FLARE: “Fascinating Blend of Science Fiction and Fantasy”

September 16, 2017 Leave a comment

By Tim Chamberlain

In his latest novel AFTER THE FLARE, Deji Bryce Olukotun delivers a fascinating blend of science fiction and fantasy from a new point of view.

It’s the near future, and massive solar flares have crippled North America, Europe and Asia. Not only does this cause massive disruption on the ground, but all satellites are in danger of crashing, including the manned International Space Station. Nigeria has the only functioning spaceport in the world, and they are scrambling to send a rescue mission to the ISS. Enter our hero, Kwesi Bracket, a displaced American NASA employee thrust into a whole new world in Nigeria.

Fans of plausible, near-future science fiction will enjoy Olukotun’s many inventions which include the Geckophone (a moving, lizard-like phone that can crawl up on

Deji Olukotun Photo © Beowulf Sheehan

the roof to charge in the sun), food-based security (it’s Tuesday, so you have to eat a kola nut and blow through a straw to pass–it’s complicated, and Olukotun does a much better explanation), and the future of currency–cowrie shells. It’s the many little touches like these that make this story vibrant.

But it’s not all just solid science fiction–from the beginning there are mysterious goings-on at the spaceport, and it soon becomes obvious that something beyond science is also somehow involved. Beyond that, the very real members of Boko Haram menace the entire situation, and the terrorists must be dealt with. Olukatun expertly brings all of these various elements together by the end.

The plot of AFTER THE FLARE itself is action movie-worthy, never keeping still for very long. But perhaps the most interesting parts of the book to me were the little asides on life and culture that weave a fascinating picture of Nigeria as it exists now, and how it would evolve in this solar flare ravaged future. The descriptions of the interactions of different local ethnic groups alone is instructive for someone like me that is mostly unfamiliar with the intricacies of Nigerian culture. Also, the fact that Bracket is American gives Olukotun a very natural way to get into these things–the American needs to know what’s happening.

In the end, AFTER THE FLARE is a seriously satisfying journey through a dystopian future and Nigerian culture that keeps itself grounded with interestingly plausible tech and frighteningly real monsters. Any fans of classic sci-fi should enjoy this new entry that puts things in a setting not typically seen in this genre.

PODCAST: Stephen Mack Jones Interview on Novel August Snow

May 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Celebrate the 2016 Diverse Literary Voices Texas Fiction Award Winners

December 22, 2016 1 comment

The inaugural 2016 Diverse Literary Voices Texas Fiction Award Winners are:

  • Evelyn Palfrey, winner of the Legacy Award
  • Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, winner of the Fiction of the Year Award
  • Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, winner of the Rising Star Award
  • Jacob Grovey, winner of the Rising Star Award

2016 Legacy Award Winner Evelyn Palfrey

evelyn-palfreyAs the winner of the Legacy Award, Evelyn Palfrey is being honored for writing inspiring novels for 20 years about black protagonists that are “marvelously mature,” set in Texas.  Evelyn Palfrey is a native Texan and a lawyer who writes romantic suspense for the ‘marvelously mature’—because romance is just as sweet with a little gray at the temple. She is the author of five novels that deal with issues that are common to the middle passage of life, and reflect her 30 years practice of criminal and family law—and her love of RV travel.

Evelyn began writing fiction in 1995, driven by the realization that although many romance readers were like her—at middle age and starting a new phase of life—they weren’t represented as romance heroines. Three Perfect Men was the first book of a trilogy about three women who had been college roommates in the ‘60’s. Three women take an RV trip to a placid East Texas lake, and become involved in a murder—and three perfect men. The Price of Passion, a novel about marriage and betrayal set in Austin, followed the next year. Her sister’s remark about the absence of full-figured women as romance heroines propelled her to write Dangerous Dilemmas. Her fourth novel, Everything In Its Place, grew out of recognition that many women who thought they had finished raising children, are now raising grandchildren. Going Home is the story of a retired woman who invites a Katrina evacuee to move into her home.evelyns-book

Evelyn’s novels have been on the Essence Magazine bestseller list, the BookSense ‘76 list, and have been Black Expressions selections. The Price of Passion was awarded Best Multicultural Book by Romantic Times Magazine. Evelyn’s story, “The Lady at the Bus Stop,” was published in Chicken Soup for the African-American Soul, and her story, “Mama’s Hands,” was published in Chicken Soup for the African-American Woman’s Soul. She has also been a contributor to Black Issues Book Review. Evelyn was nominated for a Career Achievement Award by Romantic Times. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Austin Public Library Foundation, Travis County Lawyer Referral Service, Austin Community Radio, Inc., Writers League of Texas, Texas Municipal Courts Education Center, and the State Bar of Texas. In 2012, she was awarded the Emma Author of the Year by Romance Slam Jam.  To purchase copies of her books go to: http://evelynpalfrey.com/novels.htm.  To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Evelyn Palfrey click the play button below:

 

2016 Fiction of the Year Award Winner Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

chitra-divakaruniChitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s wonderful 2016 novel, BEFORE WE VISIT THE GODDESS, is the 2016 Texas Fiction of the Year.  It is a multigenerational novel covering the emotional lives of three Indian women, Sabitri, the matriarch born and raised in India, her daughter Bela, who runs away to America with a college radical never to come back to India, and Tara, the granddaughter in America that Sabitri never sees.  Spanning from the 1940s to 2020, the novel charts the efforts of each of the women to take control of their lives while overcoming the consequences of bad decisions and tragedies. With settings in India, Oakland, Houston, and Austin, BEFORE WE VISIT THE GODDESS, brings to light the immigrant experience of Indians, and the impact of the weakening of family ties to their native land.Chitra Divakaruni before-we-visit-the-goddess-9781476792002_hr

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, poet, activist and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthlyand The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, the O.Henry Prize Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Bengali, Russian and Japanese, and many of them have been used for campus-wide and city-wide reads. Several of her works have been made into films and plays. She lives in Houston with her husband Murthy and has two sons, Anand and Abhay, who are in college. She loves to connect with readers on her Facebook page.  To purchase copies of her books go to: http://www.chitradivakaruni.com/books/.  To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Chitra Divakaruni click the play button below:

 

2016 Rising Star Award Winner Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

antonio-ruiz-camachoWith his short story collection published in 2015, BAREFOOT DOGS, former journalist Antonio Ruiz-Camacho stormed on Austin’s book scene with a literary debut that captured the angst and tragedy of a Mexican family whose patriarch is kidnapped.  Currently working on his debut novel, Ruiz-Camacho is truly a rising star in Texas fiction.antonio-ruiz-camacho-book-cover

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho was born and raised in Toluca, Mexico. A former Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University, a Dobie Paisano fellow in fiction by the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute of Letters, and a Walter E. Dakin fellow in fiction at Sewanee Writers’ Conference, he earned his MFA from The New Writers Project at UT Austin. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Texas Monthly, The Millions, and elsewhere. His debut story collection BAREFOOT DOGS won the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Book of Fiction, and was named a Best Book of 2015 by Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco Chronicle, Texas Observer and PRI’s The World. It was published in Spanish translation by the author, and is forthcoming in Dutch. Antonio lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, where he’s currently at work on a novel.

To purchase copies of his books go to: http://antonioruizcamacho.com/Antonio_Ruiz_Camacho/barefoot_dogs.html.  To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Antonio Ruiz-Camacho click the play button below:

 

2016 Rising Star Award Winner Jacob Grovey

jaocb-grovey-officialAlthough he is not even 40 yet, Jacob Grovey has published three books and is founder of Global Genius Society, a global community of artists and art lovers.  His 2016 novel, DANCE OF THE BROKEN, tells the inspirational story of a young black girl who dreams of being a ballerina, despite society’s opinion that she’s cut from the wrong cloth.jacob-grovey-book-cover

Jacob began writing early in life. At the age of eight, he first saw people actually valued his words. He was offered the opportunity to write for a magazine, but as great as the opportunity was, Jacob passed on it because he didn’t want any pressure to be associated with his writing. As the years passed, he found himself writing less and less, and before he knew it, he had gone several years without writing anything. As he thought back to the times when he wrote daily, he soon became upset with himself for going so long without putting his thoughts onto paper. In 2003, he vowed to never let that happen again. Now he says, “I promise you, the times that you’ll catch me without some sort of notepad and pencil are gonna be few and far between because you never know when the inspiration will hit.”

To purchase copies of his books go to: http://www.globalgeniussociety.com/store/c7/Jacob_Grovey.html.  To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Jacob Grovey click the play button below:

Celebration of Diverse Literary Voices in Austin and Texas

October 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Come hear the words and inspiration from some of the most dynamic and culturally diverse authors in Austin and Texas on Saturday, December 3, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St., Austin, Texas. Featured authors include Anthony and Keffrelyn Brown, co-authors of BLACK INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT IN EDUCATION; Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, author of the short story collection BAREFOOT DOGS; Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, author of the novel BEFORE WE VISIT THE GODDESS; Jacob Grovey, author of the novel DANCE OF THE BROKEN, and John Moran Gonzalez, author of BORDER RENAISSANCE.  Cosponsors include City of Austin Cultural Arts Division and Austin Revitalization Authority.

To register for the event click here.

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Anthony and Keffrelyn Brown

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Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

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Marrick Armstrong (writing as Matthias Miles)

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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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Jacob Grovey

Coffee and Books: The Boys of Dunbar, Legendary High School Basketball Team

October 4, 2016 Leave a comment

The Dunbar Poets high school basketball team in Baltimore produced four NBA players from its undefeated 1981-1982 team: Mugsy Bogues, Reggie Williams, David Wingate, and Reggie Lewis.  In the BOYS OF DUNBAR,sports journalist Alejandro Danois examines their lives and that of their coach Bob Wade in an inner city neighborhood plagued by drugs and violence.