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.

1 Books Honored in 2004


Breaking Away
by Kristin Hunter

Publication Date: Apr 01, 2003
List Price: $23.95
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780345442499
Imprint: One World/Ballantine
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann

Read a Description of Breaking Away

Book Description: 
Bethesda Barnes has reached a point in life where she at last feels comfortable. She loves her family, despite a stormy relationship with her mother. For romance, there’s Lloyd Bounds, a devoted postal clerk. Although, cards on the table, Beth wouldn’t mind a ring. Ask Beth what part of her life is truly fulfilling and she just might answer “my beautiful career.”

After landing a plum teaching position at an Ivy League college, Dr. Barnes focuses her energies on her students, even the obnoxious ones, encouraging them all to “always strive for more.” Though driven and dedicated, Beth is fairly detached from her faculty colleagues, well aware that she is one of the only black faces in a sea of white. Despite the disparity, she loves her job and pursues it with gusto. Until an incident on campus rocks her worldand forces her to confront society’s uglier side.

Late one night, four African American sorority sisters are called vile names and assailed with garbage. The students decide to charge the boys with assault and racial insensitivity for violating the university’s harassment code. They ask Beth to be their faculty advisor for the case.

When Beth accepts, she walks into a racially charged firestorm of heated protest and dangerous threats. It turns out that one of the boys is a skinhead who seems to have sympathizers in high places. When the case goes national, even the editorial boards of presumably liberal newspapers criticize the victims and their cause. Though some of girls drop out of the case, and her personal life is blindsided by tragedy, Beth perseveres with the cause, believing some things are worth fighting for … especially in the name of justice.

A powerful novel that boldly takes on large, important themes while telling an intimate story of a courageous woman, Breaking Away is Kristin Lattany’s most persuasive and searing novel to date.