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 2008


The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998
by Nikki Giovanni

Publication Date: Jan 23, 2007
List Price: $15.99
Format: Paperback, 512 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9780060724290
Imprint: Harper Perennial
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corp

Read a Description of The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998

Book Description: 
This omnibus covers Nikki Giovanni’s complete work of poetry from 19671983. THE COLLECTED POETRY OF NIKKI GIOVANNI will include the complete volumes of five adult books of poetry: Black Feeling Black Talk/Black Judgement, My House, The Women and the Men, Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day, and Those Who Ride the Night Winds. Nikki selfpublished her first book Black Feeling, Black Talk/BlackJudgement in 1969, selling 10,000 copies; William Morrow published in 1970. Know for its iconic revolutionary phrases, it is heralded as one of the most important volumes of modern AfricanAmerican poetry and is considered the seminal volume of Nikki’s body of work. My House (Morrow 1972) marks a new dimension in tone and philosphyThis is Giovanni’s first foray into the autobiographical. In The Women and the Men (Morrow 1975), Nikki displays her compassion for the people, things and places she has encounteredShe reveres the ordinary and is in search of the extraordinary. Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day (Morrow 1978) is one of the most poignant and introspective of all Giovanni’s collections. These poems chronicle the drastic change that took place during the 1970swhen the dreams of the Civil Rights era seemed to have evaporated. Those Who Ride the Night Winds (Morrow 1983) is devoted to "the day trippers and midnight cowboys," the ones who have devoted their lives to pushing the limits of the human condition and shattered the constraints of the stautus quo.


Don’t Deny My Name: Words and Music and the Black Intellectual Tradition
by Lorenzo Thomas

Publication Date: May 02, 2008
List Price: $25.95
Format: Paperback, 232 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780472068920
Imprint: University of Michigan Press
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Parent Company: University of Michigan

Read a Description of Don’t Deny My Name: Words and Music and the Black Intellectual Tradition

Book Description: 
Black musical forms profoundly influenced the work of American poet and leading literary figure Lorenzo Thomas, and he wrote about them with keen insight-and obvious pleasure. This book, begun by Thomas before his death in 2005, collects more than a dozen of his savvy yet engagingly personal essays that probe the links between African American music, literature, and popular culture, from the Harlem Renaissance to the present.Don’t Deny My Name (which takes its title from a blues song by Jelly Roll Morton) begins by laying out the case that the blues is a body of literature that captured the experience of African American migrants to the urban North and newer territories to the West. The essays that follow collectively provide a tour of the movement through classic jazz, bop, and the explosions of the free jazz era, followed by a section on R&B and soul. The penultimate essay is a meditation on rap music that attempts to bring together the extremes of emotion that hip hop elicits, and the collection ends with an unfinished preface to the volume.


Where I Must Go: A Novel (Triquarterly Books)
by Angela Jackson

Publication Date: Sep 30, 2009
List Price: $24.95
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780810151857
Imprint: Northwestern University Press
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Parent Company: Northwestern University

Read a Description of Where I Must Go: A Novel (Triquarterly Books)

Book Description: 
Lyrical, penetrating, and highly charged, this novel displays a delicately tuned sense of difference and belonging. Poet Angela Jackson brings her superb sense of language and of human possibility to the story of young Magdalena Grace, whose narration takes readers through both privilege and privation at the time of the American civil rights movement. The novel moves from the privileged yet racially exclusive atmosphere of the fictional Eden University to the black neighborhoods of a Midwestern city and to ancestral Mississippi. Magdalena’s story includes a wide range of characters—black and white, male and female, favored with opportunity or denied it, the young in love and elders wise with hope. With and through each other, they struggle to understand the history they are living and making. With dazzling perceptiveness, Jackson’s narrator Magdalena tells of the complex interactions of people around her who embody the personal and the political at a crucial moment in their own lives and in the making of America.


Incognegro: A Memoir Of Exile And Apartheid
by Frank B. Wilderson III

Publication Date: Aug 01, 2008
List Price: $18.00
Format: Paperback, 500 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780896087835
Imprint: South End Press
Publisher: South End Press
Parent Company: South End Press

Read a Description of Incognegro: A Memoir Of Exile And Apartheid

Book Description: 
?[Frank B.] Wilderson [will] become a major American writer. Mark my word.”?Ishmael ReedIn 1995, a South African journalist informed Frank B. Wilderson, one of only two American members of the African National Congress (ANC), that President Nelson Mandela considered him ?a threat to national security.” Wilderson was asked to comment. Incognegro is that ?comment.” It is also his response to a question posed five years later by a student in a California university classroom: ?How come you came back?”Although Wilderson recollects his turbulent life as an expatriate in South Africa during the furious last gasps of apartheid, Incognegro is at heart a quintessentially American story. During South Africa’s transition, Wilderson taught at universities in Johannesburg and Soweto by day. By night, he helped the ANC coordinate clandestine propaganda, launch psychological warfare, and more. In his mesmerizing political memoir, Wilderson’s lyrical prose flows from his childhood in the white Minneapolis enclave ?integrated” by his family to a rebellious adolescence at the student barricades in Berkeley and under tutelage of the Black Panther Party; from unspeakable dilemmas in the red dust and ruin of South Africa to his return to political battles raging quietly on US campuses and in his intimate life. Readers will find themselves suddenly overtaken by the subtle but resolute force of Wilderson’s biting wit, rare vulnerability, and insistence on bearing witness to history no matter the cost.A literary tour de force sure to spark fierce debate in both America and South Africa, Incognegro retells a story most Americans assume we already know, with a sometimes awful, but ultimately essential clarity about racial politics and our own lives.Frank B. Wilderson, III is the award-winning author of Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of US Antagonisms (Duke UP) and the director of Reparations … Now.