Category Archives: Authors You Should Know

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.”

 

Simon & Schuster Gives Racist Troll $250K Book Deal, But Boycotting Them Makes No Sense

Editor’s Note: Subsequent to the publication of the article, a video of Milo making comments condoning sex between children and adults was widely circulated.  As a result, his book deal with Simon & Schuster was pulled.  He also stepped down from his role as an editor with Breitbart News.


dangerous.jpgMilo Yiannopoulos is laughing all the way to the bank.  The interviewer from CNN (shown in the first video below), despite her faux outrage, is greatly helping this Milo’s profile.  CNN is doing this because these interviews generate rating and money for their company.  The hypocrisy is sickening.

This is solely about money.  Milo is no different than Twitter, CNN, and CNBC. This is the exact same thing that raised Trump’s profile. Outrageous statements are profitable.  Milo is simply the latest capitalistic troll to exploit the dysfunctional of our culture.

Now I appreciate I’m is actually feeding into the frenzy of Milo, but I do this because I know full well I’m not going to make money from this effort—corporations own that market. I just hope to make some points that will help readers think about the platforms they consume “information.”

Milo Yiannopoulos’ has a book Dangerous coming out in June.  It was already #30 on Amazon’s bestsellers list on February 14th—not in some miscellaneous sub-category either.  It is #30 overall!  The book is published by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Yesterday I posted a link to AALBC.com about a fascinating book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar, which is also published by Simon & Schuster.  I received the following in reaction,

The crazy thing is that I had no idea who Milo Yiannopoulos was prior to Emanuel’s comment. Milo is apparently the guy who spearheaded the racist trolling of Leslie Jones on Twitter. We previously talked about Leslie’s Twitter trolls on our discussion forum, without ever mentioning Milo.  Leslie threatened to leave Twitter and Twitter booted Milo in reaction (presumably).

While we (or least I) was unaware of Milo extreme trolling, corporate media were obviously paying attention and anxious to capitalize off Milo’s racist attacks.  In the process they raised MIlo’s profile; which of course boosts rating—adverse cultural impact be damned!

Simon & Schuster even offered him a $250K book deal!  Imagine a quarter of a million dollar book deal, apparently for being racist enough to get thrown off Twitter?

But then Milo is not your garden variety troll; he has Breitbart News as a platform, he is very clever, media-savvy, and funny.  I have been personally been the target of Trolls.  Not only did it not bother me I found some it kinda funny and even posted examples.  But my trolls don’t write for Breitbart, and I’m not a celebrity.  For me, it is just another day on the web: I ban my trolls and keep it moving.  No interviews on CNN, no book deals, no outrage on Twitter, indeed no attention at all.  But celebrities and the trolls are a different matter.

There was a spate of angry tweets leveled against Simon & Schuster and others announcing boycotts:

This is all very powerful stuff. Roxanne Gay caught my attention by pulling her next book which was also being published by Simon & Schuster.  The book’s title is How to be Heard.  A curious title, given Gay’s reaction is exactly the opposite of the title connotation silencing a troll

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of Simon & Schuster.  Indeed, I’d seriously considered banning them in my own personal boycott because they are the only publisher of significance to never spend a penny, in advertising, with AALBC.com.  This is despite the fact that Simon & Schuster has the top selling imprint on AALBC.com, Atria Books.

Now I would be more than happy to boycott Simon & Schuster.  In fact with the website’s new design, I could remove all of Simon & Schuster’s titles from my website by changing a few lines of code.

But I’m not going to ban Simon & Schuster’s books, not for this reason.  Simon and Shuster is a massive corporation Milo’s imprint Threshold Editions has nothing to do with the imprint 37 INK, who publishes some important books. It makes no sense boycott 37 INK’s titles because another imprint decides to publish the rantings of some racist troll.  It is the reason I still carry Simon and Shuster’s books even though they won’t break down and support the site with ad revenue.

The real problem is not Simon and Schuster, or even Milo. Both are simply capitalizing on the fact that, in America, skilled trolling is profitable.  One could argue that MIlo and Threshold Editions are behaving perfectly rationally given the environment.

We live a culture were saying outrageous things is not only very profitable but can get you into the Whitehouse.

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Christopher Murray Celebrates a Writing Career Spanning 20 Years and 27 Novels!


“In 1997, I self-published my first novel, Temptation. I sold 9,000 copies in 6 months, was picked up by a major publisher (Time Warner), and received my first NAACP Image Award nomination. Now, 20 years later, I’m still with a major publisher (Simon and Schuster), but I have also self-published a few novels. And now, my 27th book hits the shelves…”
Victoria Christopher Murray


LUSTVictoria’s latest novel is LUST: A Seven Deadly Sins (Touchstone, February 7, 2017)

“Murray has penned hot, steamy scenes in which her protagonist’s imagination runs wild, followed by the consequences of her realizing her dangerous dreams. A jarring twist at the end has the reader wondering who the good guys really are. Readers will be ready for more of Murray’s promising series.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“Murray (Stand Your Ground; Forever an Ex) mixes
quite a bit of passion, a touch of treachery, and some good old-fashioned revenge, taking time to build the tension…there’s a great resolution that hints at the movie Fatal Attraction.”
—Library Journal

“I have read Murray for years and have purchased Joy for at least 10 or more of my friends—birthdays, weddings, Christmas, etc. I love her books and have read about 8 or 10 of them. Now that l’ve retired, I can now catch up on the list of 27! Wonderful writer with the spiritual and real world approach! She, Pearl Cleage and, Walter Mosley are my absolute favorites!”
—Betti Clausell Chaney, AALBC.com eNewsletter Subscriber

About Lust

Meet the beautiful, entrepreneurial Tiffanie, who is days away from tying the knot with her first (and only) love. Tiffanie’s fiancé, Damon, is a highly successful businessman who is head-over-heels for her.

Everyone is happy for Tiffanie and Damon—except for Trey, Damon’s childhood friend and ex-partner from their drug dealings days. Unlike Damon, Trey refused to get out when the game got hot, and ended up in prison. Now he’s been released just in time to be the best man at Tiffanie and Damon’s lavish wedding. While Damon is thrilled, hoping this is a new start for his old friend, Tiffanie is confused by the lustful feelings she has around Trey.

When passion, betrayal, and revenge are mixed, only one man may be left standing.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget, and Wherever Books Are Sold