American Book Award Winners

Before Columbus Foundation Logo First presented in 1980, by the Before Columbus Foundation, “the American Book Awards Program respects and honors excellence in American literature without restriction or bias with regard to race, sex, creed, cultural origin, size of press or ad budget, or even genre. There would be no requirements, restrictions, limitations, or second places. There would be no categories. The winners would not selected by any set quota for diversity, because diversity happens naturally. Finally, there would be no losers, only winners. The only criteria would be outstanding contribution to American literature in the opinion of the judges.”

Here we present the American Book Award recipients of African descent.

4 Books Honored in 1989


The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism
by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Publication Date: Dec 14, 1989
List Price: $19.95
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780195060751
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Parent Company: University of Oxford

Read a Description of The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism

Book Description: 

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s original, groundbreaking study explores the relationship between the African and African-American vernacular traditions and black literature, elaborating a new critical approach located within this tradition that allows the black voice to speak for itself. Examining the ancient poetry and myths found in African, Latin American, and Caribbean culture, and particularly the Yoruba trickster figure of Esu-Elegbara and the Signifying Monkey whose myths help articulate the black tradition’s theory of its literature, Gates uncovers a unique system for interpretation and a powerful vernacular tradition that black slaves brought with them to the New World. His critical approach relies heavily on the Signifying Monkey—perhaps the most popular figure in African-American folklore—and signification and Signifyin(g). Exploring signification in black American life and literature by analyzing the transmission and revision of various signifying figures, Gates provides an extended analysis of what he calls the “Talking Book,” a central trope in early slave narratives that virtually defines the tradition of black American letters. Gates uses this critical framework to examine several major works of African-American literature—including Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo—revealing how these works signify on the black tradition and on each other. The second volume in an enterprising trilogy on African-American literature, The Signifying Monkey—which expands the arguments of Figures in Black—makes an important contribution to literary theory, African-American literature, folklore, and literary history.


Homemade Love
by J. California Cooper

Publication Date: Oct 28, 1998
List Price: $18.99
Format: Paperback, 192 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780312194659
Imprint: St. Martin’s Press
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers
Parent Company: Holtzbrinck Publishing Group

Read a Description of Homemade Love

Book Description: 

J. California Cooper is the author of novels, six collections of stories, and seventeen plays. Her book Homemade Love was the winner of the American Book Award in 1989, and she has been honored as the Black Playwright of the Year. She has also received the James Baldwin Writing Award and the Literary Lion Award from the American Library Association. She lived in California until her death in 2014.


From the Pyramids to the Projects: Poems of Genocide and Resistance!
by Askia M. Toure

Publication Date: Dec 01, 1989
List Price: $12.95
Format: Paperback, 77 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9780865431362
Imprint: Africa World Press
Publisher: Africa World Press & The Red Sea Press
Parent Company: Africa World Press & The Red Sea Press

Read a Description of From the Pyramids to the Projects: Poems of Genocide and Resistance!

Book Description: 
The author calls attention to the struggle of and for existence of black culture; he brings the situation forward in such an intelligent way that it is more relevant now - in this day and time.


A Burst Of Light: Essays
by Audre Lorde

Publication Date: Jan 01, 1988
List Price: $9.95
Format: Paperback, 134 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780932379399
Imprint: Firebrand Books
Publisher: Firebrand Books
Parent Company: Firebrand Books

Read a Description of A Burst Of Light: Essays

Book Description: 
Book by Lorde, Audre