Category Archives: Authors You Should Know

AALBC.com Partners with What’s The 411 TV

AALBC.com has partnered with What’s The 411 TV to bring information about Black books, authors, events, and book news from the United States and globally, to both What’s The 411TV and AALBC.com’s audiences. The relationship will be an opportunity to be a platform for sharing stories, celebrating, and uplifting the Black community via Black Literature.

What’s The 411 TV reaches 14 million subscribers across the country on DishTV and can also be seen on Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Verizon FiOS, and RCN in New York City.

WhatsThe411

Founded by Ruth J. Morrison and based in Brooklyn, New York, What’s The 411 TV is a division of What’s The 411 Networks, a media/news and information company connecting sophisticated multi-cultural audiences through its distribution platforms of television, online, mobile, and social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Vimeo).

I’m excited about this partnership, because it has tremendous opportunity to improve our ability to spread the word about great books and Black culture.

Documentary Film on History of Blacks in Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction Books

“The Invisible Universe documentary reveals the history of the representations and participation of Black people in the genres of fantasy, horror and science fiction, or speculative fiction (SF). Framed through the POV of a time traveling Archivist, the documentary explores 150 years of speculative fiction literature, its origins, developments, key personalities and current state, all through the perspective of Black people and history. The documentary demonstrates how the genres, which were premised on the ideology of white supremacy, have been adopted and adapted by Black writers as a form of artistic resistance for envisioning different worlds and futures”

The film includes interviews with Black writers of SF like, Samuel R. Delany, Octavia E. Butler, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, Nnedi Okorafor, Brandon Massey, and N.K. Jemisin.  This feature-length documentary has been in the works for several years. I discovered it while looking for a more recent video for author Brandon Massey.  It looks like it will be a fascinating film.science fiction writers
Six months ago this film was in post-production and theatrical and streaming distribution was planned for this year 2017. The film’s producer, director, and writer, M. Asli Dukan, is currently soliciting financial support; you may learn more on the film’s website: http://invisibleuniversedoc.com/

Black Writers Dominate the 2017 Pulitzer Prizes

Tyehimba Jess, Hilton Als, Colson Whityehead and LYnn Nottage. Black writers winners of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize

Back in January of this year, I took the time to try to figure out how many Black writers have won Pulitzer Prizes in the six “Letters and Drama” categories; Biography/Autobiography, Fiction, General Non-Fiction, History, Poetry, and Drama.  The results were spectacularly dismal.

The award was first bestowed in 1917.  The first award was not given to a Black person until 1950! Gwendolyn Brooks was the first to win for her book of poetry Annie Allen.  Almost another three decades would go by before another Black writer, James Alan McPherson would win for his novel, Elbow Room in 1978.

As far as I can tell, no Black writer has ever won for General Non-fiction. Only one writer Ta-Nehisi Coates was ever nominated in the category, for the spectacularly successful, Between the World and Me.

Up until 2016, only 19 Black writers have won Pulitzer Prizes during the first century the award was given.  However this year, three Black writers have won half of the awards in given in the Letters and Drama categories.  Given the history of the award, it is like lightning striking not twice but three times.

In fact, novelist and critic Hilton Als won the Award for Criticism.  I did not research the history of the other 18 categories for which Pulitzer Prizes are awarded.  The other categories deal mostly with journalism and reporting; I suspect that would be an interesting and revealing exercise to review those categories too.

I’d be the first to argue that the Black community does not need the validation of Pulitzer Prize Board to substantiate our work.  Indeed, given the history of the award, it is not expected either.  However, there have been substantive changes in the awards in recent years.  This is the first time three Black writers have won in these categories in a single year. Of the total 22 awards given to Black writers, almost half were given in the last 10 years.  This is a positive trend.

So while we do not need the award to know our writing deserves merit, it is, of course, welcomed when our literary merit is acknowledged and celebrated by the broader community.   In additional to the $10,000 monetary award, these writers will enjoy even greater success with better book advances and more lucrative speaking gigs.  This is America and awards like the Pulitzer help authors achieve financial success—a benefit denied so many talented Black writers.

AALBC.com congratulates all the winners of Pulitzer Prizes in the Letters and Drama categories:

Fiction
Colson Whitehead for his novel Underground Railroad

“For a distinctive work that melds performance art with the deeper art of poetry to explore collective memory and challenge contemporary notions of race and identity.”

Poetry
Tyehimba Jess for his book Olio

“For a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America.”

Drama
Lynn Nottage for her play Sweat

“For a nuanced yet powerful drama that reminds audiences of the stacked deck still facing workers searching for the American dream.”