July 25, 2017 Newsletter – Includes the Most Critically Acclaimed Books of the Last 40 Years

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May – June 2017 Bestselling BooksBestselling Children’s Book Authors You’ll Love ♥

Children’s books outsold all genres for the May/June period. Fiction sales were the 2nd most popular genre, led by the sales of books from independent and small presses. Nonfiction sales, which are normally strong, were the weakest we have seen in the last 15 years, resulting in only two titles with enough sales to make our bestsellers list. Poetry sells each period for which we report, however sales sufficient to make a bestsellers list have not been reached since our Jan/Feb 2017 list.

The Most Critically Acclaimed Books of the Last 40 Years

 The Most Critically Acclaimed Books of the Last 40
The Most Critically Acclaimed Books of the Last 40 Years critically acclaimed books last 40 years The critically acclaimed books on this list have earned multiple honors; they have won awards, made our bestseller’s list, or were selected for inclusion on prominent book club’s reading lists.

Bestselling Children’s Book Authors You’ll Love

Bestselling Children’s Book Authors You’ll Love ♥

There have been 115 bestselling children’s book authors in the history of AALBC.com. So far 27 that have made that list 2 or more times. Most of these sales have taken place in the last couple of years as the volume of children’s book sales have picked up significantly. Many AALBC.com readers have already enjoyed the work of these writers I’m sure you will too.

Recently Reviewed Books

Masjid Morning Masjid Morning: A Novel by Richard Morris

Masjid Morning Masjid Morning: A Novel by Richard Morris – Reviewed by Alexis E. Jackson

Richard Morris’ Masjid Morning is a dedication to the millennial college student both embracing and learning how to live with religious and racial diversity. It is a testament to multi-racial relationships and exploration of current, dubious, religious anxieties and prejudices in regard to Muslims and their believed connection to terrorism. Through it all, Morris recognizes the importance of super-millennial attitudes exuding perseverance, the right to make our own decisions, and the triumph of love. Read our full review.

How is African American Literature Really Doing?

For those in the business of Black books, this is a common question we get; “How is African American literature doing?” Some find the question difficult to answer. I don’t, because the answer is simple; African American Literature doing very well. Read More.

Vote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st Century

Vote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st Century

Authors currently in the lead include Beverly Jenkins, Octavia Butler, Bernice McFadden, and Toni Morrison, who have garnered 25% of all votes cast! Join the hundreds of other voters and let your voice be heard by casting a vote for your favorite Black author. Authors may hail from any country in world.

Dear Reader,

Troy Johnson Literary Activist of the YearI try to highlight most of the new content added to the website, because I’m excited to share it with you. But given the sheer volume of new content that is added each day, a complete summary is not only impossible, but impractical. As a result, I’ve decided to focus on the most significant additions, which I hope will improve the newsletter.

The website upgrade, which I originally thought would take about six months, will be completed early next year after two years of significant effort. The enhancements have been numerous and significant. AALBC.com is now well suited to be the premier platform for Black literature today and for years to come.

As always, Troy, this website can only be as strong as it’s supporters. If you truly value and believe in my mission of celebrating Black literature; please support AALBC.com by;

Peace & Love,
troy signature
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com

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AALBC.com eNewsletter – July 25, 2017 – Issue #247

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How is African American Literature Really Doing?

For those in the business of Black books in America, this is a common question; “How is African American Literature Doing?”  Some find the question difficult to answer.  I don’t, because the answer is simple; African American Literature doing very well!

National Book Award Medals2017, 2016, and 2015 were terrific years for African American books.  The National Book Awards and The Pulitzer Prize honored more African American writers than any three year period before—and 2017 isn’t over yet.

Despite the lack of coverage by mainstream media, the Institutions that have historically honored African American writers have not let up; the Carter G. Woodson Award, Coretta Scott King Award, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Phillis Wheatley Book Award, NAACP Image Award, The Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence are a few of the more popular awards that recognize great Black literature.

Some of the largest and most active book clubs do a tremendous job recognizing Black literary talent that might otherwise go unnoticed.  For example, for over a quarter of a century, the Go on Girl! book club has chosen excellent books for their reading list which is enjoyed by the hundreds of readers that make up their national book club. Even smaller clubs have a meaningful impact on helping to promote and raise awareness of Black writers.

Relatively newer entities like the African Americans on the Move Book Club and the African American Literary Awards Show are having a keen impact on Black Books by increasing the level of excitement surrounding Black books with their national award shows which recognize not just Black books, but publishing professionals as well.

Yahdon Israel’s #literaryswag and Glory Edim’s Well-Read Black Girl (#WRBGchat) are just of couple of folks introducing a younger crop of readers to Black books using social media as a primary tool.

There are scores of independent bookstores and online booksellers who continue to do the work of connecting readers with the books they will enjoy.

I have just introduced a new section on AALBC.com which highlights The Most Critically Acclaimed Books. This section of the site aggregates all of the books published that have earned multiple honors.  The books are listed across all genres, by year, and represent the best of the best.

The screen shot below shows below an example of one of the most critically acclaimed books of 2015, Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Among many accolades, Between The World And Me won a 2015 National Book Award, won an NAACP Image Award, was a finalist for a 2016 Pulitzer Prize, is a 7 time AALBC.com bestselling book, and was selected for 2 prominent Book Club’s reading lists, making it one of the most of the most acclaimed books published in the 21st century.

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I hope readers are able to use this growing list of books to discover some terrific reads they may have missed.

Of course, with the near monopoly of Amazon and the lack of platforms who highlight African American literature, the business of Black book’s is struggling, but the literature itself is doing quite well.

It is reasonable to argue that African American literature would be doing even better if the businesses that supported the literature were thriving.  Indeed, this is an argument that I make on a daily basis.  Good, potentially great, writers aren’t being published.  The excellent books which are are being published are failing to reach their audience.

With more and stronger independent booksellers, readers would have less difficulty discovering the great reads.  With more and stronger periodicals and websites writing critical reviews of African American books, readers would have less difficulty separating the wheat from the chaff.

To compound matters, the booksellers and publications that survive and want to support Black literature are not utilized or supported sufficiently to be as effective as they can be.

As a result, it is not unusual for an avid reader to say, “there are simply not enough good books being published.”  Again, this speaks not to a dearth quality literature, but inefficiencies in the Black book ecosystem.

It is AALBC.com’s mission to celebrate Black literature and to address the weaknesses in the black book ecosystem.  Will you help me?

Learn what motivated this article.

June 2017 eNewsletter: The Best New Books, Author Info, and More

This Month’s Newsletter is Made Possible by Support From AmistadThis Month’s Newsletter is Made Possible by Support From Amistad

Authors You Should Know

Tracy K. SmithTracy K. Smith

The Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, recently named poet Tracy K. Smith as the U.S. Poet Laureate for 2017-2018. Smith has published three collections of poetry. Her collection Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

The other Black U.S. Poet Laureates were Rita Dove (1993–1995 & 1999–2000), Natasha Trethewey (2012–2014), Gwendolyn Brooks (1985–1986), and Robert Hayden (1976–1978).

Robert Deane PharrRobert Deane Pharr

Pharr (July 5, 1916 – April 1, 1992) wrote in the vein of Iceberg Slim, Claude Brown, and Donald Goines. The urban fiction authors of today are the progenitors of Robert Deane Pharr, but Pharr’s name is often overlooked when discussing the legacy of urban fiction.

While working at Columbia University Faculty Club, Pharr showed his manuscript to a professor in the English Department who helped get it published by Doubleday. That first novel, was The Book of Numbers .

Penny MickelburyPenny Mickelbury

Penny Mickelbury is a playwright, journalist, and novelist. She was actually one of the first authors profiled on AALBC.com. Her novel, Keeping Secrets was the first of a series featuring Gianna Maglione, a lesbian chief of a hate-crimes unit based in Washington D.C. and her lover Mimi Patterson, a journalist.

Her second series features Carol Ann Gibson, a Washington D.C attorney who is widowed in the first book and subsequently runs an investigation agency with Jake Graham, the detective who investigated her husband’s death.

Recently Reviewed Books

Granddaddy by Cavis Adams - Reviewed by Carol TaylorGranddaddy by Cavis Adams – Reviewed by Carol Taylor

Granddaddy is a poignant literary novel, told mostly in a stream of conscious narrative, that traces a family’s emotional journey through their memories of the brutal lynching era in the South.

Facing his final days, Jeremiah contemplates his daughter Lilly May and twelve-year-old Curtis, the grandson he’s never met. He regrets the memories he didn’t make with them because he lacked the courage to leave the countryside. Sensing her father is coming to the end of his days, Lilly sends Curtis south from Minnesota to Alabama to meet his grandfather, for what may be Jeremiah’s last summer. As Curtis connects to his granddaddy, Lilly and her husband Howard’s marriage deteriorates.

Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama by David J. Garrow - Reviewed by Kam WilliamsRising Star: The Making of Barack Obama by David J. Garrow – Reviewed by Kam Williams

Pulitzer Prize-winner, David J. Garrow, has published an epic opus of 1,472 pages on the life of Barack Obama, focusing on the years prior to the presidency. And it’s a safe bet that Garrow just might eventually write a sequel about POTUS 44’s time in the White House, too.

Any Obama fan is likely to find this in-depth portrait fascinating, as it is filled with plenty of little-known factoids and anecdotes about him. For example, it chronicles a childhood spent mostly on Hawaii where he was basically raised by his maternal grandparents in the absence of both his mother and father.

When Minorities Lead in America: A Black Theologian’s Political Journey by Herman J. Fountain Jr. - Reviewed by Alexis E. JacksonWhen Minorities Lead in America: A Black Theologian’s Political Journey by Herman J. Fountain Jr. – Reviewed by Alexis E. Jackson

A worthwhile read, When Minorities Lead in America by Dr. Herman J. Fountain Jr. is one man’s theologically-influenced “political journey” to understanding the new America. Woven with Fountain’s upbringing and (sometimes) heartbreaking stories, we learn that a minority-led America, the “new majority,” is not too far off, and how this shift in power would impact wealth distribution, power, employment, and education (to name a few).

While this is hard to grasp, that a time will be reached with Latinos, African Americans, and immigrants running the system, Fountain makes very convincing claims regarding this societal transformation.

Recommended Reads

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal WilkinsonThe Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson

Winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.

From the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of Blackberries, Blackberries and Water Street comes an astonishing new novel. A lyrical exploration of love and loss, The Birds of Opulence centers on several generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with and sometimes surrender to madness.

Crystal Wilkinson offers up Opulence and its people in lush, poetic detail. It is a world of magic, conjuring, signs, and spells, but also of harsh realities that only love—and love that’s handed down—can conquer. At once tragic and hopeful, this captivating novel is a story about another time, rendered for our own.

New Books Coming Out July 2017

Period Pain by Kopano MatlwaPeriod Pain by Kopano Matlwa

Period Pain captures the heartache and confusion of so many South Africans who feel defeated by the litany of headline horrors; xenophobia, corrective rape, corruption and crime and for many the death sentence that is the public health nightmare. Where are we going, what have we become? Period Pain helps us navigate our South Africa. We meet Masechaba, and through her story we are able to reflect, to question and to rediscover our humanity.

Seeking Sarah: A Novel by ReShonda Tate BillingsleySeeking Sarah: A Novel by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

From the time Brooke Green was seven years old, she has lived with the pain of losing her mother. Her father has done the best job he could in raising her, but a piece of her always felt empty. On the day of her father’s funeral, her grandmother breaks the shocking news: her mother, Sarah, is very much alive. She abandoned her family because she claimed she wasn’t fit for motherhood. After doing some research, Brooke discovers her mother is living in Atlanta, enjoying a great career and a brand new family. Stunned, Brooke doesn’t know if she wants answers or revenge against the mother who abandoned her. When she meets Sarah’s husband, Tony, Brooke sees the perfect way to make her mother pay.

What Is Africa to Me?: Fragments of a True-to-Life Autobiography by Maryse CondeWhat Is Africa to Me?: Fragments of a True-to-Life Autobiography by Maryse Conde

Maryse Condé is one of the best-known and most beloved French Caribbean literary voices. The author of more than twenty novels, she was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2015 and has long been recognized as a giant of black feminist literature. While Condé has previously published an autobiography of her childhood, What Is Africa to Me? tells for the first time the story of her early adult years in Africa—years formative not only for her, but also for African colonies appealing for their own independence.

Miles Morales (A Marvel YA Novel) by Jason ReynoldsMiles Morales (A Marvel YA Novel) by Jason Reynolds

“Everyone gets mad at hustlers, especially if you’re on the victim side of the hustle. And Miles knew hustling was in his veins.”

Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.

But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren’t meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad’s advice and focus on saving himself.

New Videos: Sampling of Book Events Across the CountryNew Videos: Sampling of Book Events Across the Country

I’ve had the privilege of being able to attend several terrific events this past month and recorded some wonderful material from across the country. Here is just a sample:

▪ Teri Woods embraces “Urban Fiction” during speech at the AAMBC Awards
▪ The Mantel’s Shaun Randol, NYC Based Publisher of African Writers
▪ Davita Mckelvey of Griots Republic Magazine talks about #BlackTravel: The Anthology.
▪ Marcus Books of Oakland, CA one of the nation’s premier indie bookstores
▪ Deborah Day Ashay by the Bay Bookstore at the Sacramento Black Book Festival

To learn when new videos are published and to discover hundreds of others subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Vote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st CenturyVote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st Century

Authors who have received the most votes so far include Bernice L. McFadden, Chimamanda Ngozi, Colson Whitehead, Edwidge Danticat, and Eric Jerome Dickey. Let your voice be heard by casting your vote.

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2 for 1 Summer Book Promotion Special2 for 1 Summer Book Promotion Special

I’m offering the deal that gets your book onto our Home Page and our Book’s Main Page for 80 days, instead of the normal 40 days, for only $79. That is less than $1 per day to promote your book to thousands of readers. You may also run two different books for 40 days each.

I’d advise you to act now; these positions will go quickly and this deal will not be repeated this year.

Dear Reader,

Troy Johnson, honored on June 10, 2017, with the Literary Activist AwardI was honored on June 10, 2017, with the Literary Activist of the Year Award by the African Americans on the Move Book Club! The award was presented during a wonderful event held in Atlanta Georgia.

My hat goes off to Tamika Newhouse and her team for hosting such a tremendous event. I thank everyone who voted for me to receive this award. Finally, I thank my family who also sacrifice to make AALBC.com possible.

Troy, as always please know that AALBC.com continues to grow because of your support. Spread the word about our site, post your comments on our pages, and please consider purchasing your newsletter subscription.

Thanks for reading and celebrating Black culture.
Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson
Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com

Our newsletter may be read on your Kindle ebook reader.
Consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.
AALBC.com eNewsletter – June 29, 2017 – Issue #246