7 Award Winning Books You Will Definitely Enjoy

Ernest J. Gaines

Ernest J. Gaines

The following seven books are all winners of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.  This award honors Louisiana’s revered storyteller, Ernest J. Gaines, and serves to inspire and recognize rising African-American fiction writers of excellence at a national level. The book award, initiated by donors of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation has become nationally recognized in its role of enhancing visibility of emerging black fiction writers while also expanding the audience for this literature. The annual award of a $10,000 cash prize is to support the writer and help enable her/him to focus on her/his art of writing.

Eligible entries are read by a panel of judges, themselves renowned contributors to the literary world. They are Thomas Beller, Anthony Grooms, Elizabeth Nunez, Francine Prose and Patricia Towers.

A Killing in This Town

Winner 2007

A Killing in This Town
by Olympia Vernon

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Olympia Vernon won the first Gaines Award for A Killing in This Town, her third novel.  A Killing in This Town, is a taut, poetic masterpiece that exhumes a horrific epoch from the annals of the American South.

There is a menace in the woods of Bullock County, Mississippi, and not only for the black man destined to be lynched when a white boy comes of age. The white men who work at the Plant are in danger, too, but they refuse to heed Earl Thomas’s urgent message that the factory is slowly killing them; turning a deaf ear to the black pastor. Thomas knows he should try to deliver the message again, but he hears the blood of his murdered friend calling to him from the ground, and fears that he will be the next black man to be dragged to his death. Adam Pickens, a white boy now on the eve of his thirteenth birthday, isn’t sure he wants to wear the garb being readied for him by the Klan seamstress, or participate in the town’s ugly ritual. It is only when Gill Mender—a man haunted by past sins—returns that redemption seems possible. A transfixing and pivotal work of fiction, A Killing in This Town exposes the fragile hierarchy of a society poisoned by hatred, and shows the power of an individual to stand up to the demons of history and bring the cycle of violence to an end.

Like Trees, Walking.

Winner 2008

Like Trees, Walking
by Ravi Howard

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Like Trees, Walking examines an old tale in the New South. Based on the true story of the 1981 lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile, Alabama, the novel follows the lives of Paul and Roy Deacon, teenagers and childhood friends of Michael Donald, as they cope with the aftermath of his hanging. It is Paul Deacon who discovers the body, and the experience leaves him forever changed.

The Deacons have operated a funeral home in the city for over 100 years. When the family is asked to conduct the services for Michael, Roy Deacon must examine whether a life in the family tradition is where he belongs.

The story explores the vivid history and landscape of the Gulf Coast community and takes readers down the wooden–bricked streets of turn of the century Mobile with its Spanish architecture and its tree–lined avenues that host the annual Mardi Gras parades.

Readers experience the complexities of the American South–the beauty of the landscape mixed with the ugliness of its racial history–as the characters cope with a tragic chapter in the unfolding story of the New South.

Holding Pattern: Stories

Winner 2009

Holding Pattern: Stories
by Jeffrey Allen

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The world of Jeffery Renard Allen’s stunning short-story collection is a place like no other. A recognizable city, certainly, but one in which a man might sprout wings or copper pennies might fall from the skies onto your head. Yet these are no fairy tales. The hostility, the hurt, is all too human.

The protagonists circle each other with steely determination: a grandson taunts his grandmother, determined to expose her secret past; for years, a sister tries to keep a menacing neighbor away from her brother; and in the local police station, an officer and prisoner try to break each other’s resolve.

In all the stories, Allen calibrates the mounting tension with exquisite timing, in mesmerizing prose that has won him comparisons with Joyce and Faulkner. Holding Pattern is a captivating collection by a prodigiously talented writer.

Bis Machine

Winner 2010

Big Machine
by Victor LaValle

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Ricky Rice was as good as invisible: a middling hustler, recovering dope fiend, and traumatized suicide cult survivor running out the string of his life as a porter at a bus depot in Utica, New York. Until one day a letter appears, summoning him to the frozen woods of Vermont. There, Ricky is inducted into a band of paranormal investigators comprised of former addicts and petty criminals, all of whom had at some point in their wasted lives heard The Voice: a mysterious murmur on the wind, a disembodied shout, or a whisper in an empty room that may or may not be from God.

Evoking the disorienting wonder of writers like Haruki Murakami and Kevin Brockmeier, but driven by Victor LaValle’s perfectly pitched comic sensibility Big Machine is a mind-rattling literary adventure about sex, race, and the eternal struggle between faith and doubt.

How to Read the Air

Winner 2011

How to Read the Air
by Dinaw Mengestu

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A “beautifully written”* (New York Times Book Review) novel of redemption by a prize-winning international literary star.

From the acclaimed author of The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears comes a heartbreaking literary masterwork about love, family, and the power of imagination.

Following the death of his father Yosef, Jonas Woldemariam feels compelled to make sense of the volatile generational and cultural ties that have forged him. Leaving behind his marriage and job in New York, he sets out to retrace his mother and father’s honeymoon as young Ethiopian immigrants and weave together a family history that will take him from the war-torn country of his parents’ youth to a brighter vision of his life in America today. In so doing, he crafts a story- real or invented-that holds the possibility of reconciliation and redemption.

We Are Taking Only What We Need

Winner 2012

We Are Taking Only What We Need
by Stephanie Powell Watts

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African American women protagonists lose and find love, confront sanity and craziness, and strive to make sense of their lives in North Carolina. A Jehovah’s Witness girl goes door-to-door with an expert field-service partner from up north. At a call center, operator Sheila fields a caller’s uncomfortable questions under a ruthless supervisor’s eye. Forty-something Aunt Ginny surprises the family by finding a husband, but soon she gives them more to talk about.

Pulitzer-Prize winner Edward P. Jones writes, “Watts offers an impressive debut that promises only wonderful work to come.”

The Cutting Season

Winner 2013

The Cutting Season
by Attica Locke

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The Cutting Season is a rare murder mystery with heft, a historical novel that thrills, a page-turner that makes you think. Attica Locke is a dazzling writer with a conscience.” —Dolen Perkins-Valdez, New York Times bestselling author of Wench

Attica Locke’s breathtaking debut novel, Black Water Rising, won resounding acclaim from major publications coast-to-coast and from respected crime fiction masters like James Ellroy and George Pelecanos, earning this exciting new author comparisons to Dennis Lehane, Scott Turow, and Walter Mosley.

Locke returns with The Cutting Season, a second novel easily as gripping and powerful as her first—a heart-pounding thriller that interweaves two murder mysteries, one on Belle Vie, a historic landmark in the middle of Lousiana’s Sugar Cane country, and one involving a slave gone missing more than one hundred years earlier. Black Water Rising was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, an Edgar® Award, and an NAACP Image Award, and was short-listed for the Orange Prize in the U.K.

Winner 2014 ?
Submission are being accepted until October 1st, 2014, and registration is free.

The 2014 winner will be announced at Eighth Annual Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence which will be presented, Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

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Enrich Your Life; Read a Good Book – August 2014 eNewsletter

You may receive this eNewsletter directly in your email-box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version. Enjoy our previous eNewsletters. Consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

This month’s eNewsletter is sponsored by Grand Central Publishing

The Choir Director 2 In this sequel to Carl Weber’s New York Times bestseller The Choir Director, the faith and friendship of two men will be tested in ways they never thought possible…

Three years ago, the unlikely duo of Bishop TK Wilson and choir director Aaron Mackie saved First Jamaica Ministries from financial ruin with their successful church choir. Now, jealousy and lies has both men’s lives spiraling out of control and the lines TK and Aaron might have to cross will force them to choose between faith and friendship, or as TK puts it, “between heaven and hell.”

RT Book Reviews named The Choir Director 2 (Grand Central Publishing, 8/19/2014) a Top Pick, calling it “a tale so captivating, thrilling, sexy and insane that it’s enough to make a preacher curse.” Visit CarlWeber.net to buy it now!

Power List Best Selling Books — Summer 2014

Power List Best Selling Books — Summer 2014In an era when the NY Times Bestsellers list can go several months without a single novel written by a Black person, it is increasingly important for us to recognize and celebrate the most popular books written by Black writers. This is this is not just for the benefit of Black authors or Black readers; this is for the benefit of everyone who loves a wide range of literature. Spread the word. Added Bonus all Power List best selling books are available for 20% off list when purchased using the MahoganyBooks links on powerlist.info!

Authors You Should Know

news-george-moses-hortonGeorge Moses Horton — 1st African American to publish any book in the South

George Moses Horton (ca. 1797-1883), was born in Northampton County, North Carolina. A slave for sixty-eight years, Horton spent much of his life on a farm near Chapel Hill, and in time he fostered a deep connection with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The “Colored Bard of North Carolina” was the only man to publish volumes of poetry while in bondage and the first African American to publish any book in the South. More >

news-mona-lisa-saloyMona Lisa Saloy — Poet, Author, Educator, Folklorist

Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy is professor of English at Dillard University. She previously published Red Beans & Ricely Yours, which won the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Prize in 2006. Saloy’s literary voice represents the African-American and the New Orleans Creole cultural experience.

Saloy is a noted speaker and storyteller, who consults to the Louisiana Endowment for the

Humanities (LEH), the Louisiana Division of the Arts (LDOA), and is an active member of the Louisiana Folklore Society. Also, Saloy composed a praise song & performed for two presidents. Read a review of her latest, Second Line Home: New Orleans Poems.

news-ishmael-beahIshmael Beah — Child Soldier Pens his 1st Novel

Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 1980. He moved to the United States in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school at the United Nations International School in New York. In 2004 he graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in political science. He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO) at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, and many other NGO panels on children affected by the war. Read about Beah’s new novel, Radiance of Tomorrow.

Drusilla Dunjee Houston — Foremother of Africana Historical Writing and Research Drusilla Dunjee Houston — Foremother of Africana Historical Writing and Research

“Like many African American women writers swallowed up and languishing in the historical gap, Houston is one of the most prolific and all but forgotten African American women writers of the 20th century.

Houston burst on the historical literary scene in 1926 with Volume I of her magnum opus Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire Book 1: Nations of the Cushite Empire, Marvelous Facts from Authentic Records thought to represent the crowning achievement of Drusilla Dunjee Houston’s literary life. With this work, Houston is remembered as the earliest known and possibly the only African American woman to write a multi-volume study of ancient Africa where she boldly proclaimed in 1926, an African origin of civilization and culture during one of the most turbulent periods for black Americans in American history.” —Peggy Brooks-Bertram Learn More about Drusilla Dunjee Houston.

news-essex-hemphillEssex Hemphill — Poet, Writer, Activist

Born in Chicago in 1957, Essex Hemphill was raised in Washington, D.C. before settling in Philadelphia. Cleis Press calls Hemphill, “one of the most provocative African American gay authors since James Baldwin.” Winner of the 1993 American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Book Award, Ceremonies (Plume, 1992) tackles cultural controversy with remarkable force and clarity. Whether he is addressing love between men, AIDS in the African American community, racism among white gay artists, coming home or coming out, Hemphill’s insights give voice to a generation of men silenced by fears of reprisal and rejection. Hemphill passed in November of 1995. More >

news-sister-bettyPat G’Orge-Walker — Christian Author and Comedienne

“The First Lady of Gospel Comedy,” is an accomplished Christian author and comedienne with a talent for turning her observations of church and black church life, in particular, into gems of sidesplitting humor. It is her own special gift from God that enables G’Orge-Walker to depict the often ridiculous antics of church folk. She does it without subverting the Good News or watering down the potency of its message. More >

Book Recommendations

news-what-i-know-for-sureWhat I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

An AALBC.com Book of the Month! for September 2014: The 1st 50 customers that purchase this book will receive a FREE copy of The Ditchdigger’s Daughter. No code needed.

Winfrey, the nation’s only African-American billionaire, has been awarded both an honorary degree by Harvard University and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. From all her experiences, she has gleaned life lessons—which, for fourteen years, she’s shared in O, The Oprah Magazine’s widely popular “What I Know For Sure” column, a monthly source of inspiration and revelation.

Now, for the first time, these thoughtful gems have been revised, updated, and collected in What I Know For Sure, a beautiful cloth bound book with a ribbon marker, packed with insight and revelation from Oprah. (Flatiron Books 9/2/14)


Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches by Steve Harvey

Countless books on success tell you what you need to get that you don’t already possess. In Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success, Steve Harvey tells you how to achieve your dreams using the gift you already have. Every one of us was born with a gift endowed by our creator—something you do the best at with very little effort. While it can be like someone else’s, your gift is yours alone. No one can take it away. You are the only one who can use it—or waste it. (Amistad, 9/9/14)

news-in-the-slow-goInto the Go-Slow by Bridgett M. Davis

“…Davis writes about two hot-button locations—Detroit and Lagos, yet she explores these settings without nostalgia or exoticism. She understands that these are REAL PLACES where REAL PEOPLE live. I connected all the characters, Angie, especially. Her pain so so vivid, but so is her big-hearted love for the people in her life.

…She asks whether or not African Americans can ever really go ‘home’ to Africa. The love story contained on these pages will break your heart, and mend it too. There’s so much going on, but you never take your mind off the big question: What happened to Angie’s sister, Ella? Will Angie ever find out? Who can she trust? Does she really want to know the truth? …get this novel. You will love it.” —Award Winning Author, Tayari Jones (The Feminist Press at CUNY, 9/9/14)

news-bed-rock-faithBedrock Faith by Eric Charles May

After fourteen years in prison, Gerald “Stew Pot” Reeves, age thirty-one, returns home to live with his mom in Parkland, a black middle-class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. A frightening delinquent before being sent away (his infamies included butchering a neighbor’s cat, torching another neighbor’s garage, and terrorizing the locals with a scary pit bull named Hitler), his return sends Parkland residents into a religiously infused tailspin, which only increases when Stew Pot announces that he experienced a religious awakening in prison. With uncompromising fervor (and with a new pit bull named John the Baptist), Stew Pot appoints himself the moral judge of Parkland. He discovers that a woman on his block is a lesbian and outs her to the neighborhood, after a mild threat from the block club president, Stew Pot reveals a secret that leaves the president’s marriage in ruin… (Akashic Books, 3/4/14)

news-oh-gadOh Gad! by Joanne C. Hillhouse

Oh Gad! is a stirring novel about a woman facing cross-cultural odds and redefining everything she understands about her family, herself, and the country she’s never really been able to call home.

Nikki Baltimore was born in Antigua but grew up with her dad in the United States. With each year, she’s grown further apart from her mother and maternal siblings, potters in rural Antigua.

Listen to Elizabeth Nunez’s, recommendation for the novel _Oh Gad!_ (Strebor Books, 4/17/12)

news-our-children-can-soarOur Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change by Michelle Cook

Rosa sat so
Martin could march.
Martin marched so
Barack could run.
Barack ran so
Our children can soar.

This is the seed of a unique picture book that is part historical, part poetry, and entirely inspirational. It takes the reader through the cumulative story of the US Civil Rights Movement, expanding the popular slogan beyond these three heroes to include more key players in the struggle for equality. Spare prose and vivid imagery make this a truly moving and accessible picture book to be savored by readers of all ages. (Bloomsbury USA Childrens 4/14/09)

Book Reviews

news-bill-t-jonesStory/Time: The Life of an Idea by Bill T. Jones

Jones has choreographed for everyone from Alvin Ailey to the Boston Ballet to the Berlin Opera. And among his many accolades are a couple of Tony Awards, an Obie Award, a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, the National Medal of Arts, and induction into the National Museum of Dance Hall of Fame.

Story/Time is an ethereal memoir emblematic of this iconoclastic trailblazer’s unpredictable approach to everything he does. The book is basically an attempt to reduce to writing and photographs a trio of multi-media talks Jones delivered at Princeton University as part of the prestigious Toni Morrison Lecture Series. More >

news-second-line-homeSecond Line Home: New Orleans Poems by Mona Lisa Saloy

Mona Lisa Saloy’s refreshing, Second Line Home (2014) is a poetic memoir of her post-Katrina experiences—from her evacuation with friends and neighborhoods to her return, through efforts to rebuild and reoccupy her 7th Ward home handed down to her by her Black Creole father.

$100,000 cost to elevate it and termite eaten wood
Nixed keeping our family place
(“From Lament to Hope”) More >

news-growingup-in-the-nations-capitalGrowing Up in the Nation’s Capital: We Made it, but it Took an Entire Village by Carrolyn Pichet

Her story will remind us of a time in neighborhoods when doors were left unlocked, and neighbors were extended family picking up the slack for each other wherever it was needed. That reason alone makes Pichet’s book a good, nostalgic read even if her past reads nothing like ours. We will connect to the sense of pride and purpose she grew up with in her family and her community, and how it illustrates the African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. “Back then, if a neighbor lent a cup of sugar to my mother, she paid back the loan with a cup of flour, a stick of butter or a slice of homemade cake or pie. Since our neighbors were extended family, the doors were never locked. There was no shame in bartering or exchanging amongst us. We were all struggling to make ends meet, and every one of us was willing and eager to render some service. More >

news-finding-your-rootsFinding Your Roots by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Most black people hit a dead end when trying to trace their lineage, because their ancestors were considered fungible goods during slavery, meaning they were merely personal property to be bought and sold, and whipped and shipped at the will of their owners. While in bondage, they couldn’t marry, start a family or even raise their own offspring.

For that reason, Henry Louis Gates’ African-American Lives proved to be a hit on TV, since the popular PBS program profiled prominent black figures’ attempt to reconstruct their family trees with his help. Turns out some other ethnicities are just as curious about their heritage. So, Dr. Gates decided to host another show, expanding his focus this time to include a diversity of folks reflecting the full spectrum of the racial rainbow. More >

news-tony-browns journalTony Brown’s Journal is Now Available Online

The website is a resurrection of 40 years of broadcast excellence and hundreds of titles of professional-grade content with high-production values from Tony Brown’s Journal, America’s “#1-rated talk/educational TV series” (circa 1968-2008), that covers African-American history with legends such as Martin Luther King, Elijah Muhammad, and historians Dr. Chancellor Williams/The Destruction of Black Civilization and J. A. Rogers.

Tony Brown’s Journal was the first series on national television to break the story on the odious Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment on Black men and the infamous Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. There is also the famous 1974 debate between Dr. Frances Welsing and Dr. William Shockley on the issue of racial supremacy.

Related Articles & News

Huria's Map of Black Owned Book StoresMap of Black Owned Book Stores

Check out our map of Black-owned independent bookstores.

We are also making this map freely available to anyone to embed on their website or blog with just a single line of code. Help promote our cultural institutions. They thrive with our support.

news-The-Honorable-Minister-Louis-FarrakhanFarrakhan to Black Youth: Study Ferguson, MO and Gaza

The military readiness of police in Ferguson, Missouri is a warning to all Black youth in America, according to Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. In a two-hour speech Sunday, August 17 from his organization’s headquarters Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Farrakhan made a passionate plea for Black youth to see in Ferguson a tip off of what government agencies are preparing for them in the urban centers of America. As for Gaza, he said the willingness to bomb humans in tightly compact neighborhoods was a sign of how suppression could happen in Black neighborhoods here. More

news-nicholas-payton“…Hiphop, as a Whole, is Wack”

“And to those of you who say I know nothing about Hiphop, if ‘Blurred Lines’ is Hiphop, I don’t want to know anything about it. So let me officially go on record now and say that I hate Hiphop. There are certain artists who claim Hiphop that I dig, but Hiphop as a whole is wack. It’s a parasitic culture that preys on real musicians for its livelihood. I may not know anything about Hiphop, but I don’t have to. Without real artists and musicians like me, you’d have nothing to steal. I know enough about it all to know that.”

—Nicholas Payton in, An Open Letter To Pharrell Williams (Blurred Lines Vol. 3) where he castigates Pharrell over his unwillingness to knowledge that he stole Marvin Gaye’s tune, ‘Got to Give It Up.’ What do you think?

news-hiv-atlAlmost half of Black Gay Men, in Atlanta, are HIV Positive

Sullivan’s preliminary results in Atlanta confirmed the huge racial differences that persist. Among black gay men, 43 percent were HIV positive, compared to 13 percent of white gay men, even though the black gay men had fewer sex partners and less unprotected sex. Everyone also reported a tendency to date within the same race. Black gay men said that 80 percent of their partners in the past year were also black. The white gay men said that 73 percent of their partners were also white. Join the conversation

news-letterAuthors Beg Amazon for Mercy

“…[W]e encourage Amazon in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business.” —Authors United

Not all author agree, “…publishers like Hachette have a long history of treating authors and readers poorly. Amazon, on the other hand, has built its reputation on valuing authors and readers dearly. ” What do you think?

Film Reviews

ng Fela: Music is the WeaponFinding Fela: Music is the Weapon

Finding Fela tells the story of Fela Kuti’s life (1938 – 1997), his music, and his social and political importance. This in-depth look at the man who created Afrobeat (a fusion of Jazz, traditional West African rhythms, Funk, Highlife, and psychedelic rock) brings audiences close to Mr. Kuti’s fight against the dictatorial Nigerian government of the 1970s and 1980s. With his audacious music and a great deal of courage, Fela Kuti helped bring a change towards democracy in Nigeria, promoted Pan Africanist politics to the entire world and became an inspiration in the global fight for the rights of all oppressed people. More >

newsget-on-upGet on Up: The James Brown Story

“…all the producers, writers, and the director of the James Brown movie are white. No black people were hired until a few weeks before the cameras started rolling, the actors.” —Gregory Allen Howard, Award-winning screenwriter

“…the non-linear (back and forth) telling of the story limit’s the intensity of a narrative that naturally builds, but I also think the film is pretty balanced with Brown’s talents and his flaws.” —C. Liegh McInnis publisher of Black Magnolias Literary Journal

This is just some of the commentary in addition to our review.

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You may discover a writer whose work you’ll enjoy. YouTube, for now anyway, is one of the remaining (perhaps the only) major social networking platforms that financially compensates you in return for the content contributed to their platform. They provide a service to you without trying to completely cannibalize your website’s traffic.If you subscribe to AALBC.com’s YouTube channel you will help me spread the word about Black literature. Your support matters. Promoting Black literature has always been a grassroots effort; it is not done by corporations or governments but by individuals like you and me.



The Official NYC 80th Birthday Party for Sonia Sanchez
Join us on Friday, September 19, 2014, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., in Brooklyn NY.

This will be an actual party, not a lot of speechifying. There will be performances by Ursula Rucker and jessica Care moore, music by DJ Reborn, and more. More >

news-aaliteraywardsshow2014African American Literary Awards Show

The 2014 African American Literary Awards Show will be held at the MIST, 46 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026 on September 27th.

Voting for the 2014 AALAS is open Now through September 7th, 2014.

news-baabfThe Baltimore African American Book Festival will take place October 11, 2014, from 10am to 5pm, at the Enoch Pratt Central Library, 400 Cathedral St Baltimore Md 21201. Scheduled speakers include; Trice Hickman, author of new novel Troublemaker; Sherri Booker, winner of an NAACP Image Award for her memoir Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home; Nikki Woods, senior producer of the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” and author of the AALBC.com #1 bestseller, Easier Said Than Done ; Ella Curry, Owner of EDC Creations; and AALBC.com’s Founder, Troy Johnson. Learn More >

Dear Reader

The Baltimore African American Book Festival We need your support. Please purchase or renew your subscription to AALBC.com’s eNewsletter—less than 50 cents an issue.

If you’ve read something in our eNewsletter, that you enjoyed or felt was important, please share it. We are responsible for ensuring our stories are told, shared, and preserved.

Troy Johnson,
Founder and Webmaster

AALBC.com eNewsletter – August 26, 2014 – Issue # 217

Posted in 2014, AALBC.com News, African-American, Book Reviews, books, Culture, eNewsletter, Events | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unpublished Stories From Octavia Butler Available for the First Time


Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) was a bestselling and award-winning author, considered one of the best science fiction writers of her generation. She received both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and in 1995 became the first author of science fiction to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. She was also awarded the prestigious PEN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Her first novel, Patternmaster (1976), was praised both for its imaginative vision and for Butler’s powerful prose, and spawned four prequels, beginning with Mind of My Mind (1977) and finishing with Clay’s Ark (1984).

Although the Patternist series established Butler among the science fiction elite, it was Kindred (1979), a story of a black woman who travels back in time to the antebellum South, that brought her mainstream success. In 1985, Butler won Nebula and Hugo awards for the novella Bloodchild, and in 1987 she published Dawn, the first novel of the Xenogenesis trilogy, about a race of aliens who visit earth to save humanity from itself. Fledgling (2005) was Butler’s final novel. She died at her home in 2006.


Unexpected Storiesnews-unexpected-stories

New, from Open Road Media, Unexpected Stories contains two never-before-published stories from Octavia E. Butler.

The novella “A Necessary Being” showcases Octavia E. Butler’s ability to create alien yet fully believable “others.” Tahneh’s father was a Hao, one of a dwindling race whose leadership abilities render them so valuable that their members are captured and forced to govern. When her father dies, Tahneh steps into his place, both chief and prisoner, and for twenty years has ruled without ever meeting another of her kind. She bears her loneliness privately until the day that a Hao youth is spotted wandering into her territory. As her warriors sharpen their weapons, Tahneh must choose between imprisoning the newcomer—and living the rest of her life alone.

The second story in this volume, “Childfinder,” was commissioned by Harlan Ellison for his legendary (and never-published) anthology The Last Dangerous Visions™. A disaffected telepath connects with a young girl in a desperate attempt to help her harness her growing powers. But in the richly evocative fiction of Octavia E. Butler, mentorship is a rocky path, and every lesson comes at a price. (Open Road Media, 6/24/2014)


Six remarkable stories from a master of modern science fiction

Octavia E. Butler’s classic Bloodchild (Open Road Publishing, 7/24/2012), winner of both the Nebula and Hugo awards, anchors this collection of incomparable stories and essays. Bloodchild is set on a distant planet where human children spend their lives preparing to become hosts for the offspring of the alien Tlic. Sometimes the procedure is harmless, but often it is not. Also included is the Hugo Award–winning “Speech Sounds,” about a near future in which humans must adapt after an apocalyptic event robs them of their ability to speak.

In these pages, Butler shows us life on Earth and amongst the stars, telling her tales with characteristic imagination and clarity.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate.


Related Articles


Unseen Octavia E Butler Stories Recovered

“…her long-term agent Merrilee Heifetz has announced that she has discovered two previously unpublished works by Butler with the help of the archivists at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, where Butler’s papers are housed, and that the stories will be published in June by digital press Open Road Integrated Media.” —Article by Alison Flood, theguardian.com, April 30, 2014

An “Unexpected” Treat For Octavia E. Butler Fans

“…Unexpected Stories offers a much-appreciated glimpse into Butler’s rich writing style and her genre sensibilities as they formed. It’s a must read, not just for Butler fans but for all lovers of speculative fiction. —Review by K. Tempest Bradford, NPR, July 10, 2014

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Posted in 2014, African-American, Authors You Should Know, book, books, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment