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.”

 

March 28, 2017 Newsletter — Book Recommendations, News, Contests, and More

Top 120 Children’s Books from the Past 50 YearsTop 120 Children’s Books from the Past 50 Years

Our list of the Top 120 Children’s Books published over the last half century is updated on an ongoing basis and reflects some of the best, most beautifully illustrated books published in the past 50 years. Most are awarding winning, critically acclaimed, titles. Some have become obscure over years, and some were independently published and never enjoyed a large platform to gain a significant audience. The Illustration above is by Leo & Diane Dillon and is from the book Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions.


New Books Coming Out April 2017New Books Coming Out April 2017

Learn about these and other excellent new books coming out this month and in the coming months.


AALBC.com Mourns the Loss of Poet Mari EvansAALBC.com Mourns the Loss of Poet Mari Evans

Evans’ poetic voice helped define the 1960s Black Arts Movement. Over the course of her career, Evans has been a distinguished writer and university educator. She has taught at Cornell University, Indiana University, the State University of New York at Albany, the University of Miami at Coral Gables, and at Spelman College. She is the author of numerous articles, children’s books, plays, musicals, and books of poetry.


Kimberla Lawson Roby, Beatrix Williams and Shelly Shepard Gray described their favorite independent bookstores New York Times best-selling authors, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Beatrix Williams and Shelly Shepard Gray described their favorite independent bookstores during the Southwest Florida Reading Festival, which was held March 18 at Centennial Park in Fort Myers, Florida.


Recently Reviewed Books

izzie & McKenzie’s Fabulous Adventures: Mayhem in Madrid by Dina C. TateLizzie & McKenzie’s Fabulous Adventures: Mayhem in Madrid by Dina C. Tate

Dina C. Tate set up Global Girls Squad LLC in order to develop and self-publish a series of chapter books for young girls of color. The idea is to set young heroines, Lizzie and McKenzie, on adventures that will have them traveling the world, learning about other cultures, and celebrate being different.

Tate makes a fine start in accomplishing her goal of, inspiring young girls to read about different cultures in her first installment, Lizzie & McKenzie’s Fabulous Adventures: Mayhem in Madrid. The adventure actually drives the story. Learning about Madrid is simply part of the adventure. Exposure to other cultures in this fashion is sure to make the learning process fun. Young readers will certainly look forward to more of Lizzie and McKenzie’s adventures as they learn about other places around the world.


Recommended Reads

Obama: From Promise to Power by David MendellObama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell

“I recommend this wonderful book to anyone who wants to know the real story behind Barack Obama’s historic rise to national political stardom. Having covered Obama since his Senate campaign began, David Mendell offers an insightful, richly detailed and refreshingly balanced account of a ‘change candidate’ who was neither as perfect or as flawed as others might want you to believe.” —Clarence Page

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea BeatyAda Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. What would you do with a problem like this? Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble!


The Black Panther Party [Reconsidered] – Download the First 20 Pages for FreeThe Black Panther Party [Reconsidered] – Download the First 20 Pages for Free

The Black Panthers was the most effective grassroots black revolutionary group in American history — but one whose legend, replayed in sensationalized news stories, a major movie, and countless publications, has outlived the group itself. Featuring never-before-published reflections from former members as well as tables and illustrations, this pioneering collection of essays examines this unique organization in depth using a new approach that places the views of former Panthers alongside those of historians and cultural commentators. The result is a vital dialogue between inside and outside perceptions and realities. A section on gender dynamics offers a much-needed examination of the role of women in the Party. Other essays in the volume address the social forces that gave rise to the Party, the organizational dynamics involved in maintaining its activities, and the internal and external factors that eventually contributed to the Party’s decline.


We Could Be Brothers by Derrick Barnes

In this middle-grade novel by Derrick Barnes, two thirteen- year-old African-American boys become friends during a three-day stint in an after-school suspension. They were both involved in two unrelated incidents with the same person, the resident menace at Alain Locke Middle, Tariq Molten. During this three-day span, the young men visit each other’s homes and chop it up on a variety of subjects including respect of self and Black women, the dire state of hip-hop music, the use of the dreaded N word, and masculinity. Before long, the three boys are on a collision course.


130+ Book Events, Fairs, Festivals, and Conferences

acramento Black Book Festival - June 2-3, 2017Sacramento Black Book Festival – June 2-3, 2017

The Fourth Annual Sacramento Black Book Fair will feature more than seventy authors of African descent, showcasing and highlighting a diverse spectrum of authors and literature, from contemporary and historical fiction, to anthologies, poetry, academic books; children’s stories and books, non-fiction to biographies, self- help, and inspirational, religious, and financial works. AALBC.com’s founder, Troy Johnson will be giving a talk on “The Corporatization of the World Wide Web and its the Impact on the Black Book Ecosystem.”

Learn more about this festival and more than130 others coming up over the next 12 months, in our events section.


Win Two Books by Kimberla Lawson Roby

Win Two Books by Kimberla Lawson RobyTo enter be one of the first 10 subscribers to answer the following two questions.

1. What is something that you really like about our newsletter or website?
2. What is something about our newsletter or website that can be can be improved?

Three winners will be randomly selected from the first 10 responses. Winners will receive Kimberla Lawson Roby latest book Copycat, and an early prepublication version (a “galley”) of Kimberla’s next book, Sin of a Woman.

The winners of this prize have already been selected. To learn about future prizes visit our contest page.


When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery.”

Who said this? Visit this page to learn the answer. You’ll also be able to read and listen to the entire speech.


Two Terrific Ways to Promote Your Books on AALBC.com

Spring Special - Your Book on Two Popular Pages Until June 21, 2017 – Only $89Spring Special – Your Book on Two Popular Pages Until June 21, 2017 – Only $89

Your book will appear on AALBC.com’s Homepage and the Book’s Main Page for the entire spring, now through midnight June 21, 2017.

Place Your Horizontal Ad Banner on Every AALBC.com Page for as Little as 50 Cents per Day!

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Dear Reader,

Troy Johnson Head shotIn the first 18 years of running AALBC.com, I’ve profiled more than 900 authors. In the past year alone, I’ve added profiles of 2,000 more authors—that’s an increase from 1 new author profile per week to 1 new profile every 5 hours!

Not only has the number of authors increased, but the quality of their presentation has improved dramatically as well. Each of the author’s books has its own page. If the book has won an award, is on a bookclub’s reading list, or is reviewed there are links to pages with more details on all of that information. Ta-Nehisi Coates book, Between The World And Me, is a good example.

Each individual book’s buy links are customized to get readers the best deal—even if it means sending them to another bookseller. Consider Misty Copeland’s new book, Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You; autographed copies are available from Mahogany Books, and our buy links will prominently reflect this deal as long as it is available.

For this reason, more some authors, like critically acclaimed novelist Elizabeth Nunez, use AALBC.com as their primary web presence. This is just one example of many improvements to AALBC.com.

Please know that none of this would be possible without your spiritual and financial support. So please consider paying for your newsletter subscription and continue to share any of our content, you find valuable, with others.

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


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AALBC.com eNewsletter – March 28, 2017 – Issue #243

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