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
As 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.
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 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 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
With 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 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
Although 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 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:
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.
Jacob Grovey, author of the new novel DANCE OF THE BROKEN and BookPeople’s crime fiction coordinator Scott Montgomery and bookseller Molly Odintz are today’s live in studio guests at 12:30 p.m. CST on KAZI Book Review on KAZI 88.7 FM.
DANCE OF THE BROKEN tells the poignant and 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.
Scott and Molly will be recommending new crime fiction novels and short stories for listeners to read:
Scott’s Crime Fiction Picks
1. Mississippi Noir edited by Tom Franklin http://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781617752285
2. St. Louis Noir edited by Scott Phillips http://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781943818006
3. Survivors Will Be Shot Again by Bill Crider http://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781250078520
Molly’s Crime Fiction Picks
1. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott http://www.bookpeople.com/book/9780316231077
2. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis http://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781101984994
3. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch http://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781101904220
Listen to the podcast of my December 6 interview on KAZI Book ReviewSimel E.J. Bey, author of THE MYSTERIOUS ONE OF KAPWERA ENGOLO and Willie S. Anderson, author of WYNTER, TAKE A BOW!:
MYSTERIOUS ONE OF KAPWERA ENGOLO
Based on the true story of Mestre Benedito, one of the innovators of the unique and beautiful martial art Capoeira, MYSTERIOUS ONE OF KAPWERA ENGOLO celebrates the life of a young man named Besege taken from his home and sold into slavery in the New World. Swiftly escaping to a multi-racial community of freedom fighters, Besege survives to witness turbulent times, including the birth of capoeira from a mix of African and native Brazilian arts, the abolition of slavery in Brazil, and the rise of Afro-Brazilian culture as an enduring force.Author Simel E.J. Bey is a Licensed & Board Certified Acupuncturist and teacher. Simel earned a bachelor’s degree in Radio, Film, and Print and his master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. He is the CEO of Bey Acupuncture, a thriving and accolade-winning practice specializing in Oriental Medicine. He made his publishing debut in 2010 with Children’s Initiatic Tales: Stories from The Immortal Light, a collection of six original tales inspired by traditions of myth, spiritual folklore, and ancient fairy tales.
WYNTER, TAKE A BOW
Every child is gifted. Wynter, Take a Bow poetically illustrates the creative genius and exuberant spirit of one amazing little girl. Featuring phenomenally vivid art by Keturah Ariel, each illustration is simply beautiful. Wynter, Take a Bow is Willie S. Anderson’s first published children’s book. Though written primarily for youngsters, this brilliant “work of heart” is sure to inspire and rejuvenate the child in each of us. Keep the pages turning!Willie S. Anderson, M.Ed., is an educator, visionary, writer, speaker, sojourner, and community advocate. Blessed to live her passion through service, Anderson firmly believes that we must use our God-given talents to uplift our community. Ms. Anderson is abundantly blessed with supportive family and friends. She is especially grateful for her magnificent mama, two lovely, dynamic daughters; a dedicated, sensational son-in-law; and three energetic, brilliant “baby grands.” A native of Henderson, Tennessee, Anderson resides in Pflugerville, Texas.
Tune in at 8 a.m. CST for my interview with Elsie Augustave, author of the 2013 novel THE ROVING TREE, on KAZI Book Review. THE ROVING TREE follows a young Haitian adoptee, Iris Odys, through various journeys across the world. Odys is the rejected daughter of a Haitian maid and of the middle-class Haitian man who employs her. In addition to the struggle for identity of cross-cultural adoptees, the book explores themes of class, color and religion in Haiti.
I just finished reading a chapter about Ernest Gaines prizing winning novel, A LESSON BEFORE DYING, in Michael DeRell Hill’s book, THE ETHICS OF SWAGGER: Prizewinning African American Novels, 1977-1993. Set in rural Louisiana in the late 1940s, A LESSON BEFORE DYING is about a black teacher recruited by his aunt to educate a young black man wrongfully accused of murder on deathrow on how to be a man. It deals with the racial conflicts of the deep south and how despite the main character’s education, it doesn’t preclude him from bring treated as a second class citizen. I’m taping an interview with Hill Saturday. Here is a footnote from page 88 in THE ETHICS OF SWAGGER that caught my attention:
“Gaine’s responses to wrongful conviction and black middle class impotence featured humility as potentially edifying…For evidence of both popular and bourgois rebellion, see, respectively, Public Enemy’s classic album It Takes A Nation of Millions (1988) and the April 1990 Ebony cover story, “Success is the Best Revenge,” about Vanessa Williams…This portrait of bourgeois bliss engaged a specific triumph over racial prejudice, but the story’s title phrase emerged as a generic slogan of affluence as activism.”
In his book, Hill examines how prizewinning African American authors dealt with white literary expectations and incorporated black traditions in their novels including TonI Morrison’s BELOVED, Alice Walker’s THE COLOR PURPLE, Charles Johnson’s MIDDLE PASSAGE, Gaines’ A LESSON BEFORE DYING, and others.
KAZI Book Review will feature excerpts from interviews with four authors appearing at the Texas Book Festival on the October 11 edition of KAZI Book Review on KAZI 88.7 FM:
- Attica Locke, author of the novel PLEASANTVILLE, a murder mystery set in 1996 revolving around a campaign to elect Houston’s first black mayor,
- James McGrath Morris, author of EYE ON THE STRUGGLE, a biography of the Black newspaper white house correspondent Ethel Payne,
- Laila Lalami, author of a historical novel about the first Black to explore America, THE MOORS ACCOUNT, and
Vu Tran, author of a mystery novel about the search for an enigmatic Vietnamese woman, DRAGONFISH.
The Texas Book Festival is October 17-18 and more information about all the authors appearing is available at texasbookfestival.org.
Be sure to tune in Monday, October 12, for the Monday edition of KAZI Book Review which will feature an interview with Wendell Pierce, author of a memoir about his efforts to rebuild the New Orleans neighborhood he grew up in after Hurricane Katrina, THE WIND IN THE REEDS: A Storm, A Play, and the City That Would Not Be Broken.