2015 marks the anniversary of two significant books by African Americans: the 25th anniversary of the publication of MIDDLE PASSAGE by Charles Johnson and 50th anniversary of the publication of MANCHILD IN THE PROMISED LAND by Claude Brown. Both books will be featured on KAZI Book Review’s July 27 edition at 8 a.m. CST on KAZI 88.7FM. Charles Johnson won the National Book Award for Fiction for MIDDLE PASSAGE, only the second African American to win the award for fiction at that time.
In the first segment of KBR, I discuss the origins of MIDDLE PASSAGE with its author Charles Johnson. The novel’s protagonist is Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave and irrepressible rogue, desperate to escape unscrupulous bill collectors and an impending marriage to a priggish schoolteacher. He jumps aboard the first boat leaving New Orleans, the Republic, a slave ship en route to collect members of a legendary African tribe, the Allmuseri. Thus begins a daring voyage of horror and self-discovery.
Charles Johnson, a 1998 MacArthur fellow, is the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Endowed Professor of English at the University of Washington in Seattle. His fiction includes Dr. King’s Refrigerator, Dreamer, and Middle Passage, for which he won the National Book Award. In 2002 he received the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
MANCHILD IN THE PROMISED LAND is a semi-autobiographical novel widely regarded as one of the most realistic and poignant portrayals of everyday life for the first generations of African Americans who grew up in northern cities during the 1940s and 1950s. In it, Claude Brown chronicles his coming of age in Harlem with both fondness and sadness, lamenting the many in his neighborhood, including his younger brother, who fell victim to the persistent violence, poverty and alcohol and drug addiction that plagued the community. Claude Brown died in 2002. KAZI Book Review contributors Evelyn Anderson and Peggy Terry will join me to discuss the significance of the book.
Peggy Terry is the co-chair of the Folktales Black Women’s Literary Society in Austin, Texas.
1. DISGRUNTLED – Asali Solomon
2. THE REAPER AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ONE OF THE DEADLIEST SPECIAL OPS SNIPERS – Nicholas Irving
3. BALM – Dolen Perkins-Valdez
4. AND SOMETIMES I WONDER ABOUT YOU- Walter Mosley
5. THE FACE THAT CHANGED IT ALL: A MEMOIR – Beverly Johnson
6. WELCOME TO MY BREAKDOWN: A MEMOIR – Benilde Little
7. JAM ON THE VINE – LaShonda Barnett
8. LOVING DAY: A NOVEL – Mat Johnson
9. 300 SANDWICHES: A MULTI-LAYERED LOVE STORY. . .WITH RECIPES – Stephanie Smith
10. DRIVING THE KING: A NOVEL – Ravi Howard
I stumbled across an interesting book on James Baldwin recently while trying to find the title of Miles Davis’s autobiography that was cowritten by Quincy Troupe, JAMES BALDWIN: THE LAST INTERVIEW AND OTHER CONVERSATIONS. Troupe had conducted the last interview with Baldwin in 1987, the year he died, but the book which includes this interview and others, was published in December 2014 by Melville House. So in my search online for Miles through Quincy Troupe, I found the Baldwin book.
As revealed in William Maxwell’s great book, F.B. EYES: How J Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature, Baldwin was one of several African American writers whose literary works were monitored and critiqued by the FBI for subversive content. The FBI dossier of 1,884 pages on Baldwin was the largest on file for African American writers.
Considering current racial tensionsin our nation, and Baldwin’s writings on race and his role in the Civil Rights Movement, now is a good time to read The Last Interview.
Upcoming Interviews for July Feature Black Cowboy Deadwood Dick, Theologian Martin Luther, & Legendary Black Mystery Writer Walter Mosley
We have an exciting mix of new fiction and nonfiction authors scheduled for KAZI Book Review in July including New York Times best selling mystery authors Walter Mosley and Ace Atkins. Some of the topics covered by these authors include:
- The theologian Martin Luther, who launched the Protestant Reformation in Germany breaking away from the Catholic Church in the early 1500s, in a compelling narrative focusing on his life during its most turbulent and productive time in 1521-1522 in LUTHER’S FORTRESS by author James Reston
- Advice for educators on how to teach students of color who live in poverty by a passionate advocate for their education inRAC(E)ING TO CLASS by University of Pittsbuurg Professor of Education H. Richard Milner
- The legend of African American cowboy Nat Love, better known as Deadwood Dick, brought to life through a fictional retelling of his life in PARADISE LOST, a first person narrative by award winning Texas mystery writer Joe Lansdale
Interviews for July
July 5 – Ivan G. Goldman, THE DEBTOR CLASS (fiction); David Morrell, INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD (fiction)
July 6 – James Reston, LUTHER’S FORTRESS: Martin Luther and His Reformation Under Siege
July 12 – Jewell Parker Rhodes, BAYOU MAGIC (children’s fiction-middle grade); Joe Lansdale, PARADISE SKY (fiction)
July 13 – H. Richard Milner, RAC(E)ING TO CLASS: Confronting Poverty and Race in Schools and Classrooms
July 19 – Ace Atkins, THE REDEEMER (fiction) and ROBERT B. PARKER’S KICKBACK (fiction)
July 20 – James McGrath, EYE ON THE STRUGGLE: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press
July 26 – Neely Tucker, MURDER, D.C. (fiction); Victoria Schorr, BADLANDS (fiction)
July 27 – Walter Mosley, AND SOMETIMES I WONDER ABOUT YOU
Tune in every Sunday 12:30 p.m. – 1 p.m CST and every Monday 8 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. CST to KAZI 88.7FM in Austin, Texas for KAZI Book Review.
Sterling Watson, author of the novel SUITCASE CITY and Peggy Terry, co-chair of the Folktales Black Women’s Literary Society in Austin, Texas are today’s guests on KAZI Book Review at 12:30p.m. CST.
Set largely in and around Tampa, Fla. in 1997, SUITCASE CITY captures the racial tension in the area when a former white star college quarterback is accused of assaulting a young black man. Watson uses the resulting media frenzy surrounding the incident and the characters to explore the difficulties of race relations.
Sterling Watson is the author of six novels and teaches in the MFA program at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts. He is also the codirector of the Eckerd College Writing Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Peggy Terry, an avid reader and longtime member of the Folktales Black Women’s Literary Society, will be discussing her list of 10 Black authors that published books this year to read this summer.
Tune in to KAZI Book Review at 12:30pm tomorrow for the opportunity to win free copies of Attica Locke’s first novel, BLACK WATER RISING on KAZI 88.7FM. Listen live online through tunein.com, live365.com, or their respective apps, or at kazifm.org.
Attica Locke, author of the new novel PLEASANTVILLE, will be interviewed live on KAZI Book Review on KAZI 88.7FM Sunday, May 31 at 12:30pm CST. Set in 1996 in the real life black neighborhood of Pleasantville in Houston,Texas, PLEASANTVILLE is the sequel to Attica’s first novel, BLACK WATER RISING, which was published in 2009. Free copies of BLACK WATER RISING and PLEASANTVILLE will be given away to listeners Sunday. Tune in to the live interview for more details.
A native of Houston, Texas, Attica Locke is a writer and producer of the FOX hit TV show Empire. She is also author of the novel THE CUTTING SEASON.
PLEASANTVILLE PLOT SUMMARY
Fifteen years after the events in Black Water Rising, Jay Porter is struggling to cope with catastrophic changes in his personal life and the disintegration for his environmental law practice. His victory against Cole Oil is still the crown jewel of his career, even if he hasn’t yet seen a dime, thanks to appeals. But time has taken its toll. Tired and restless, he’s ready to quit.
When a girl goes missing on election night, 1996, in the neighborhood of Pleasantville – a hamlet for upwardly mobile blacks on the north side of Houston – single father Jay is deeply disturbed. He’s been representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire, and the case is dragging on, raising doubts about his ability.
The missing girl was a volunteer for one of the local mayoral candidates, and her disappearance complicates an already heated campaign. When the nephew of a candidate, a Pleasantville local, is arrested, Jay reluctantly finds himself serving as a defense attorney. With a man’s life and his own reputation on the line, Jay is about to try his first murder in a case that will also put the electoral process on trial, exposing the dark side of power and those determined to keep it.