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.


2 Books Honored in 2016

Fiction

Loving Day: A Novel
by Mat Johnson

Publication Date:
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780812993455
Imprint: Spiegel & Grau
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Read a Description of Loving Day: A Novel



Book Description: 
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle •NPR •Men’s Journal • The Denver Post •Slate •Time Out New York

From the author of the critically beloved Pym (“Imagine Kurt Vonnegut having a beer with Ralph Ellison and Jules Verne.”—Vanity Fair) comes a ruthlessly comic and moving tale of a man discovering a lost daughter, confronting an elusive ghost, and stumbling onto the possibility of utopia.

“In the ghetto there is a mansion, and it is my father’s house.”

Warren Duffy has returned to America for all the worst reasons: His marriage to a beautiful Welsh woman has come apart; his comics shop in Cardiff has failed; and his Irish American father has died, bequeathing to Warren his last possession, a roofless, half-renovated mansion in the heart of black Philadelphia. On his first night in his new home, Warren spies two figures outside in the grass. When he screws up the nerve to confront them, they disappear. The next day he encounters ghosts of a different kind: In the face of a teenage girl he meets at a comics convention he sees the mingled features of his white father and his black mother, both now dead. The girl, Tal, is his daughter, and she’s been raised to think she’s white.

Spinning from these revelations, Warren sets off to remake his life with a reluctant daughter he’s never known, in a haunted house with a history he knows too well. In their search for a new life, he and Tal struggle with ghosts, fall in with a utopian mixed-race cult, and ignite a riot on Loving Day, the unsung holiday for interracial lovers.

A frequently hilarious, surprisingly moving story about blacks and whites, fathers and daughters, the living and the dead, Loving Day celebrates the wonders of opposites bound in love.

Praise for Loving Day

“Incisive . . . razor-sharp . . .that rare mlange: cerebral comedy with pathos. The vitality of our narrator deserves much of the credit for that. He has the neurotic bawdiness of Philip Roth’s Alexander Portnoy; the keen, caustic eye of Bob Jones in Chester Himes’s If He Hollers Let Him Go; the existential insight of Ellison’s Invisible Man.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Exceptional . . . To say that Loving Day is a book about race is like saying Moby-Dick is a book about whales. . . . [Mat Johnson’s] unrelenting examination of blackness, whiteness and everything in between is handled with ruthless candor and riotous humor. . . . Even when the novel’s family strife and racial politics are at peak intensity, Johnson’s comic timing is impeccable.”—Los Angeles Times

“Loving Day is about being blackish in America, a subject about which Johnson has emerged as satirist, historian, spy, social media trickster (follow him on Twitter) and demon-fingered blues guitarist. . . . Johnson, at his best, is a powerful comic observer [and] a gifted writer, always worth reading on the topics of race and privilege.’”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

Fiction

Counternarratives
by John Keene

Publication Date:
List Price: $24.95
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780811224345
Imprint: New Directions Publishing
Publisher: New Directions Publishing
Parent Company: New Directions Publishing
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Read a Description of Counternarratives



Book Description: 
Conjuring slavery and witchcraft, and with bewitching powers all its own, Counternarratives continually spins history?and storytelling?on its headRanging from the 17th century to our current moment, and crossing multiple continents, Counternarratives’ stories and novellas draw upon memoirs, newspaper accounts, detective stories, interrogation transcripts, and speculative fiction to create new and strange perspectives on our past and present. “An Outtake” chronicles an escaped slave’s take on liberty and the American Revolution;"The Strange History of Our Lady of the Sorrows" presents a bizarre series of events that unfold in a nineteenth-century Kentucky convent; "The Aeronauts" soars between bustling Philadelphia, still-rustic Washington, and the theater of the U.S. Civil War;“Rivers,” presents a free Jim meeting up decades later with his former raftmate Huckleberry Finn; and in "Acrobatique," the subject of a famous Edgar Degas painting talks back.