2008 Essence Literary Awards: 8 Winning books and 30 Finalists
The winning titles were announced February 7, 2008 during an wards ceremony held in New York City. AALBC.com’s founder Troy Johnson was a member of the blue-ribbon panel which voted on the winning books from the finalist listed below. 2008 was the first and only year this award was presented. Read the press release.
The Pirate’s Daughter
by Margaret Cezair-Thompson
Back in America, little was known of my life in Jamaica,” wrote Errol Flynn.
In 1946, a storm-wrecked boat carrying Hollywood’s most famous swashbuckler shored up on the coast of Jamaica, and the glamorous world of 1940’s Hollywood converged with that of a small West Indian society. After a long and storied career on the silver screen, Errol Flynn spent much of the last years of his life on a small island off of Jamaica, throwing parties and sleeping with increasingly younger teenaged girls. Based on those years, The Pirate’s Daughter is the story of Ida, a local girl who has an affair with Flynn that produces a daughter, May, who meets her father but once.
Spanning two generations of women whose destinies become inextricably linked with the matinee idol’s, this lively novel tells the provocative history of a vanished era, of uncommon kinships, compelling attachments, betrayal and atonement in a paradisal, tropical setting. As adept with Jamaican vernacular as she is at revealing the internal machinations of a fading and bloated matinee idol, Margaret Cezair-Thompson weaves a saga of a mother and daughter finding their way in a nation struggling to rise to the challenge of independence.
by Lalita Tademy
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Cane River comes the paperback debut of an epic work of fiction that tells the dramatic, intertwining story of two families and their struggles to make a place for themselves in a country deeply divided in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Casanegra follows the adventures of Tennyson Hardwick, a gorgeous, sexy former actor and gigolo living on the fringes of the good life in Hollywood. This story combines the glamour of Hollywood with the seedy hopelessness of the inner city. In this hot and steamy mystery, Tennyson is an actor struggling to hang on to his career and redeem his sex-for-pay history that estranged him from his family—especially his father, a decorated LAPD captain who raised Tennyson to call him "Sir." Now, in the wake of his father’s sudden stroke, Tennyson has to save himself from taking the fall for a murder. In the process he discovers his hidden talents—the hard way. Blair Underwood, a Golden Globe-nominated actor and the author of Before I Got Here, joins bestselling novelists Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes to create a cool, irresistible character in Tennyson Hardwick, and this gritty, provocative mystery will keep readers craving more.
New England White: A Novel
by Stephen L. Carter
The eagerly awaited, electrifying new novel from the author of The Emperor of Ocean Park (“Among the most remarkable fiction debuts in recent years . . . A rip-roaring entertainment”—The Boston Globe).
When The Emperor of Ocean Park was published, Time Out declared: “Carter does for members of the contemporary black upper class what Henry James did for Washington Square society, taking us into their drawing rooms and laying their motives bare.” Now, with the same powers of observation, and the same richness of plot and character, Stephen L. Carter returns to the New England university town of Elm Harbor, where a murder begins to crack the veneer that has hidden the racial complications of the town’s past, the secrets of a prominent family, and the most hidden bastions of African-American political influence.
At the center: Lemaster Carlyle, the university president, and his wife, Julia Carlyle, a deputy dean at the divinity school—African Americans living in “the heart of whiteness.” Lemaster is an old friend of the president of the United States. Julia was the murdered man’s lover years ago. The meeting point of these connections forms the core of a mystery that deepens even as Julia closes in on the politically earth-shattering motive behind the murder.
Relentlessly suspenseful, galvanizing in its exploration of the profound difference between allegiance to ideas and to people, New England White is a resounding confirmation of Stephen Carter’s gifts as a writer of fiction.
by Nuruddin Farah
From the internationally revered author of Links comes "a beautiful, hopeful novel about one woman’s return to war-ravaged Mogadishu" (Time)
Called "one of the most sophisticated voices in modern fiction" (The New York Review of Books), Nuruddin Farah is widely recognized as a literary genius. He proves it yet again with Knots, the story of a woman who returns to her roots and discovers much more than herself. Born in Somalia but raised in North America, Cambara flees a failed marriage by traveling to Mogadishu. And there, amid the devastation and brutality, she finds that her most unlikely ambitions begin to seem possible. Conjuring the unforgettable extremes of a fractured Muslim culture and the wayward Somali state through the eyes of a strong, compelling heroine, Knots is another Farah masterwork.
The Women Who Raised Me: A Memoir
by Victoria Rowell
Born as a ward of the state of Maine, the child of an unmarried Yankee blueblood mother and an unknown black father, Victoria Rowell beat the odds. The Women Who Raised Me is the remarkable story of her rise out of the foster care system to attain the American Dreamand of the unlikely series of women who lifted, motivated, and inspired her along the way.From Agatha Armsteada black Bostonian who was Victoria’s longest-term foster mother and first noticed her spark of creativity and talentto Esther Brooks, a Paris-trained prima ballerina who would become her first mentor at the Cambridge School of BalletThe Women Who Raised Me is a loving, vivid portrait of all the women who would help Victoria transition out of foster care and into New York City’s wild worlds of ballet, acting, and adulthood. Though Victoria would go on to become an accomplished television and film star, she still carried the burden of loneliness and anxiety, particularly common to those "orphans of the living" who are never adopted. Vividly recalled and candidly told, her story is transfixing, redemptive, heartbreaking, and, ultimately, inspiring.
Alek: My Life from Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel
by Alek Wek
Alek Wek has been the face of ad campaigns for companies ranging from Coach to Michael Kors to Nars and has worked the runways on behalf of designers such as Diane von Furstenberg and Christian Dior. Yet her defining moments extend beyond the runways of New York, Milan, Paris, and London. Born to a middle-class family in the Sudan, Wek found her life suddenly inverted when civil war broke out among outlaw militias, the Muslim-dominated government, and southern rebels. The conflict not only killed two million people, it created an entire community of refugees, including Wek’s familymany of whom fled to London. Here is Wek’s incredible, daring story of rising from refugee to international supermodel.
One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life--A Story Of Race And Family Secrets
by Bliss Broyard
Ever since renowned literary critic Anatole Broyard’s own parents, New Orleans Creoles, had moved to Brooklyn and began to "pass" in order to get work, he had learned to conceal his racial identity. As he grew older and entered the ranks of the New York literary elite, he maintained the faade. Now his daughter Bliss tries to make sense of his choices and the impact of this revelation on her own life. She searches out the family she never knew in New York and New Orleans, and considers the profound consequences of racial identity. With unsparing candor and nuanced insight, Broyard chronicles her evolution from sheltered WASP to a woman of mixed race ancestry.
A Long Way Gone
by Ishmael Beah
My new friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life.
"Why did you leave Sierra Leone?". "Because there is a war." "You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?" "Yes, all the time." "Cool."
I smile a little.
"You should tell us about it sometime."
This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.
What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.
In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.
This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.
Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits
by T. D. Jakes
The star of BETs Mind, Body & Soul, and featured guest speaker on Oprah’s Lifeclass, Potters House pastor T.D. Jakes offers readers the New York Times bestselling Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits, an inspirational narrative self-help book that provides the spiritual underpinnings of his message about applying Christian principles to adjust to the many changes that life brings. In the vein of Joel Osteen’s Become a Better You and Dr. Phil’s Life Strategies, Reposition Yourself uses wisdom collected from more than thirty years of Jakes’s experience counseling and working with high-profile and everyday people on financial, relational, and spiritual creativity on the path to an enriched life filled with contentment at every stage.
From the Heart: Eight Rules to Live By
by Robin Roberts
We often hear that success requires pushing the boundaries, coloring outside the lines, stepping on toes, and breaking all the rules. But some rules are so critical they aren’t meant to be broken. Here, perennially popular Good Morning America host Robin Roberts reveals the 8 rules that she has always honored on her road to success. Illustrated with stories from her work, her family, and her faith, she explains how deceptively simple maxims like "Never lose sight of the Big Picture" and "Give people the benefit of the doubt" are both deeply meaningful and crucial to happiness and genuine accomplishment. Combined with a good dose of Robin’s trademark humor, warmth, and honesty, this book will be required reading for anyone in need of an infusion of sincere inspiration. And in light of her announcement in July 2007 that she had breast cancer, Robin’s message is bound to touch an even larger audience.
Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life
by Tony Dungy
SUBTITLE: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning LifeAlso available: Quiet Strength Mens Bible Study-SP #216628, Bktrax-Disc-Quiet Strength (audio book)-SP #498030, Go Deep Tailgate Party Kit-SP #216659Tony Dungy became the first African-American to coach a Super Bowl champion when the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Because of their shared faith and deep friendship, Dungy and Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith received widespread attention. "Writing a book is something that I never intended to do," said Dungy. "However, after winning the Super Bowl, I heard from so many people who were excited about our victory. I wanted to tell each one of them that it wasn’t the victory, but the journey, and the lessons learned along that journey that really matter. And the biggest lesson I learned was that God’s hand is not only in the victories, but in the disappointments as well. It is my prayer that reading my story will cause people to stop and examine what’s really important in life."Tony Dungy’s words and example have intrigued millions of people. The consummate professional, he is a living example that men and women can succeed in the most competitive environments without deviating from their core values. Coach Dungy’s inspiring memoir will appeal to a wide variety of readers: passionate football fans, business leaders, moms and dads, and all who want to discover how Coach Dungy’s priorities, principles and practices can apply in their lives.Tony and his wife, Lauren, are the parents of six children, daughters Tiara and Jade, and sons Eric, Jordan, Justin, and the late James Dungy.
Do You!: 12 Laws To Access The Power In You To Achieve Happiness And Success
by Russell Simmons and Chris Morrow
Since rising out of the New York City streets over twenty-five years ago, Russell Simmons has helped create such groundbreaking ventures as Def Jam Records, Phat Farm, and Def Comedy Jam. Russell might have helped introduce hip-hop to the world, but he credits his success to his belief in a strong set of principles—or laws. In twelve straightforward steps, Russell reveals a path that can be followed by anyone struggling to realize their dreams.
Russell’s laws stem from the belief that it’s impossible to receive any sort of lasting success from the world without giving something of lasting value to the world first. Blending business insight, universal spiritual truths, and an inspired sense of purpose,Do You!crosses the lines of age, race, and background, with wisdom that will lift you up and motivate you to pursue your vision.
How Strong Women Pray
by Bonnie St. John
Bonnie St. John profiles some of today’s most prominent women and how prayer has impacted their lives.
Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas
by Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher
SUPREME DISCOMFORT originated from a much-commented-upon profile of Clarence Thomas that appeared in an August 2002 issue of The Washington Post Magazine. In it, Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, both Post staffers, both black, crafted a haunting portrait of an isolated and bitter man, savagely reviled by much of the black community, not entirely comfortable in white society, internally wounded by his passage from a broken family and rural poverty in Georgia to elite educational institutions to the pinnacle of judicial power. He has clearly never recovered from the searing experience of his Senate confirmation hearings and the "he said/she said" drama of the accusations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill.
SUPREME DISCOMFORT tracks the personal odyssey of perhaps the least understood man in Washington, from his poor childhood in Pin Point and Savannah, Georgia, to his educational experiences in a Catholic seminary and Holy Cross, to his law school years at Yale during the black power era, to his rise within the Republican political establishment. It offers a window into a man who straddles two different worlds and is uneasy in both—and whose divided personality and conservative political philosophy will deeply influence American life for years to come.
Friends: A Love Story
by Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance
Courtney B. Vance met Angela Bassett. They ran for years as friends in the same small circles. They had some hits, but mostly misses with other partners, and they shared one spectacularly dreadful first date together. And then, Courtney and Angela connected. Experience the up-close-and-personal, real-life love story of this inspirational African-American celebrity couple. Learn how they navigate the fickle tides of fame, while keeping their relationship fresh and true. See how they’ve carved a meaningful life together in spite of humble beginnings, family tragedy and the ups and downs of stardom with love, faith and determination.
I Got Your Back: A Father and Son Keep It Real About Love, Fatherhood, Family, and Friendship
by Eddie Levert, Gerald Levert, and Lyah Beth LeFlore
The final collaboration from Eddie and Gerald Levert: an intimate glimpse into their lives, their passions, and their musical legacy. But most important, I Got Your Back gets inside the special and rare father-son bond that these two R&B legends shared. Eddie and Gerald put their hearts and souls on the line and talk about their failures, concerns, fears, and triumphs as father and son. With a powerful message of reconciliation for broken families, Eddie and Gerald explore the themes of fatherhood, male bonding and male-female relationships. The book includes moving tributes from Eddie, Patti LaBelle, Steve Harvey and others, as well as treasured family photographs.
Foreigners (Vintage International)
by Caryl Phillips
From an acclaimed, award-winning novelist comes this brilliant hybrid of reportage, fiction, and historical fact: the stories of three black men whose tragic lives speak resoundingly to the problem of race in British society.
With his characteristic grace and forceful prose, Phillips describes the lives of three very different men: Francis Barber, “given” to the 18th-century writer Samuel Johnson, whose friendship with Johnson led to his wretched demise; Randolph Turpin, a boxing champion who ended his life in debt and decrepitude; and David Oluwale, a Nigerian stowaway who arrived in Leeds in 1949 and whose death at the hands of police twenty years later was a wake up call for the entire nation. As Phillips weaves together these three stories, he illuminates the complexities of race relations and social constraints with devastating results.
Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt discovered early in their friendship that they shared a disturbing trait: as children, they navigated dangerous inner-city life without a father’s guidance. In spite of this, they escaped delinquency and crime to form the Pact, dedicated to putting themselves on the road to success. Now, the Three Doctors make a new promise: to set aside their resentment, and rebuild the relationships with their fathers—men they barely recognize. Told in alternating voices between father and son, The Bond explores the hard lessons of growing up without a father and suggests ways to stem the tide of fatherlessness in communities across the country. Honest, brave, and poignant, The Bond is a book for every child and every family.
Winner Current Affairs
An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President
by Randall Robinson
On February 29th, 2004 the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was forced to leave his country. The twice elected President was kidnapped, along with his Haitian-American wife, American soldiers and flown, against his will, to the isolated Central African Republic. Although the American government has denied ousting Aristide it was clear that the Haitian people’s most recent attempt at self-determination had not been crushed by Haitian paramilitaries as Washington claimed. In An Unbroken Agony , bestselling author and social justice advocate Randall Robinson explores the heroic and tragic history of Haiti. He traces the history of a people forced across the Atlantic in chains; recounting their spectacularly successful slave revolt against France and the two hundred years of reprisals that would follow. The fate of Aristide’s presidency is tied to this people’s century-long quest for self-determination and his removal from power exposes the apartheid-like forces that frustrate these aspirations even today. Robinson majestically chronicles the convulsive history of this island nation-from Columbus’s arrival to the fearlessness of the slave revolutionaries who defeated the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804, wresting from France the most valuable colony of any European power anywhere in the world; from the ideals of the young republic, to the foreign backed dictators who corrupted those ideals, culminating in the American led operation removing from power Haiti’s first democratically elected president and his entire government in 2004. Robinson captures the pride and courage of the Haitian people in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. With his passionate prose, Robinson brings alive the powerful memory of the Haitian revolution in the souls of ordinary citizens and shows the boundless desire of all Haitians to chart their own destiny-free of foreign interference.
Nominee Current Affairs
Come On, People: On The Path From Victims To Victors
by Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint have a powerful message for families and communities as they lay out their visions for strengthening America, or for that matter the world. They address the crises of people who are stuck because of feelings of low self-esteem, abandonment, anger, fearfulness, sadness, and feelings of being used, undefended and unprotected. These feelings often impede their ability to move forward. The authors aim to help empower people make the daunting transition from victims to victors. Come On, People! is always engaging, and loaded with heart-piercing stories of the problems facing many communities.
Nominee Current Affairs
The Covenant In Action
by Tavis Smiley
The Covenant in Action was developed to continue the inspirational spirit of the Covenant With Black America and to empower people to take effective action to achieve THE Covenant goals. The information, tools, and ideas presented in The Covenant in Action will enable and inspire people to become agents of change in their respective communities and to become partners in a larger Covenant movement. The Covenant in Action is organized into three parts: (1) stories about the projects and actions that everyday people have undertaken over the past year that were inspired by the Covenant With Black America; (2) motivational essays from young Black activists who are on the ground impacting their environments; and (3) a toolkit outlining steps you can take to organize, connect, and act. The toolkit contains not only traditional action strategies, but includes innovative approaches to organizing and community building that will result in stronger, more bonded communities that are reflective of their history and past experiences. The Covenant With Black America was only the first step. The Covenant in Action toolkit will prime and prepare individuals and communities to actually move the Covenant book into action.
Nominee Current Affairs
Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hip-Hop
by Michael Eric Dyson
Nominee Current Affairs
Twice As Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power
by Marcus Mabry
Perhaps no American leader is better known and less understood than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Beyond the dramatic story of her pasther ascent from segregated Alabama to the halls of powerand the controversy of her present, little is known about her as a woman, and while she has broken barriers and achieved extraordinary success, she is also one of the most polarizing figures of our time. As an African American girl growing up in the South when the civil rights movement was at its most tumultuous and inspiring, her own views on race are complex. While she has benefited from advances in civil rights legislation and evolving acceptance of blacks, hers has been a singularly individualistic rise, the product of her parents’ determination to make her "special."TWICE AS GOOD: CONDOLEEZZA RICE AND HER PATH TO POWER, is the first biography of Rice to reveal the private woman behind the public image that has become so familiar to people around the world. Bringing his superlative skills as a journalist to bear on this most intriguing of subjects, Newsweek Chief of Correspondents Marcus Mabry chronicles the fascinating story of Rice’s life so far, from her childhood in Alabama and Coloradowhere she loved ice skating and playing the piano-to her discovery of international affairs at the knee of Madeleine Albright’s father Josef Korbel to her role in taking America to war in Iraq. What drove her to the fateful decisions that the United States and the world are now living with? How will history judge her and what awaits her after her service to George W. Bush? Mabry answers these questions in a deeply nuanced portrait of a driven woman of many contradictions whose power is vast-and still growing…
Daufuskie Island: 25th Anniversary Edition
by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
First published in 1982, Daufuskie Island vividly captured life on a South Carolina Sea Island before the arrival of resort culture through the photographs of Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe and words of Alex Haley. Located between Hilton Head and Savannah, Daufuskie Island has since become a plush resort destination. Moutoussamy-Ashe’s photographs document what daily life was like for the last inhabitants to occupy the land prior to the onset of tourist developments.When Moutoussamy-Ashe first came to Daufuskie in 1977, about eighty permanent African American residents lived on the island in fewer than fifty homes. Many of the people still spoke their native Gullah dialect. They had only one store, a two-room school, a nursery, and one active church. This represented all that remained of a once-thriving black society which developed after the original plantation owners left and the land was bought by freed slaves. After the boll weevil caused cotton crop failures and pollution ruined oyster beds, more and more residents sold their land to commercial developers. It became clear that Daufuskie would soon be transformed into a coastal resort like neighboring Hilton Head, changing forever the unique island culture that survived largely unchanged for the preceding half-century. Moustoussamy-Ashe’s photographs show family gatherings, crabbing and fishing, children at play, spiritual life, and the toils of everyday existence. With the utmost respect for her notoriously shy subjects, she captured a powerful vision of their rough-hewn but rewarding life independent from many modern conveniences.Redesigned from cover to cover, the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Daufuskie Island includes more than fifty previously unpublished photographs from the original contact sheets, a new preface by Deborah Willis, and a new epilogue by Moutoussamy-Ashe.
Pop: A Celebration of Black Fatherhood
by Carol Ross
In 51 visually stunning, emotionally compelling portraits, acclaimed photographer Carol Ross presents a hopeful, heartwarming, and caring view of black fatherhood in the United States. In an era that pays little positive attention to black fathers, Ross’s inspirational perspective on the relationships between black men and their children is vitally importantand long overdue.
Ross’s richly textured duotone photographs reveal a group of devoted fathers whose common bond is their profound love for their children. For her subjects, Ross has selected men from all walks of lifecollege professors, filmmakers, technicians, construction workers, and corporate executivesalong with well-known music executives, directors, entertainers, and actors, such as Antonio L. A. Reid, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Funk Master Flex, Doug E. Doug, and Melvin Van Peebles. Film star Samuel L. Jackson, photographed with his daughter, provides the book’s foreword, and each portrait is accompanied by a poignant personal recollection by the father depicted.
Exquisitely designed, Pop: A Celebration of Black Fatherhood finally gives black men their own voice about their experience as fathers. Inspired by her own father, Ross’s book is, in her words, “a round of applause, a bow, a God bless you,’ ” to all those fathers who “take their children to that place where, one day, they can fly on their own.”
Jimi Hendrix: An Illustrated Experience
by Janie Hendrix and John McDermott
Jimi Hendrix: An Illustrated Experience
The electric, bodacious, extraordinary life of Jimi Hendrix as told through
text, rare photographs, removable documents, reproductions of memorabilia,
and a 70-minute audio CD.
Jimi Hendrix: An Illustrated Experience illuminates the life of the musical icon who pioneered a new generation in rock and roll with his explosive electric style. With exclusive access to the private family archives, co-authors Janie Hendrix and John McDermott tell the vibrant and unique story of Jimi’s life, from his formative years in hardscrabble Seattle through his short-lived days in the eye of a fanatic and dedicated public, to the aftermath of his sudden death and the wake of his legacy. An indispensable addition to any music lover’s library, the book is a truly interactive experience, featuring reproductions of drawings from Jimi’s childhood, his rare handwritten song lyrics, and never-before-seen archival photographs. In addition to 30 interactive features, the book includes a 70-minute audio CD with interviews and commercially unreleased recordings of live concert music and a Record Plant jam session. While listening to Jimi work out musical riffs, while holding pieces of the ephemera that chronicle his life, you will experience Jimi Hendrix the way you were meant to: in full color.
Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits
by Deborah Willis
This stunning collection of photographic portraits traces US history through the lives of well-known abolitionists, artists, scientists, writers, statesman, entertainers, and sports figures. Drawing on the photographic collections of the National Portrait Gallery, author Deborah Willis explores how these images—many by famous photographers—reveal the nation’s history through an African American lens and challenge us all to uphold America’s highest ideals and promises. Let Your Motto Be Resistance is the inaugural publication of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Jewels: 50 Phenomenal Black Women Over 50
by Connie Briscoe and Michael Cunningham
Photographer Michael Cunningham (coauthor of Crowns)and author Connie Briscoe, a New York Times bestsellingnovelist, profile 50 women over the age of 50 who have been remarkably successful—whether in reaching the top of thecorporate ladder, finding fame in politics or the arts, orraising a son to be proud of a single mother—and revealthe ways that they have prevailed despite daunting obstacles.Their stories are paired with Cunningham’s intimateportraits of the women.
JEWELS includes well-known and little-known womenalike, from teachers and executives to artists, authors, andentertainers. Among the celebrities profiled in the book areRuby Dee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, S. Epatha Merkerson,and Marion Wright Edelman. Coauthor Connie Briscoe alsoappears here as one of the featured Jewels, telling herinspiring personal story. World-renowned poet, writer,commentator, activist, and educator Nikki Giovannicontributes an original poem to the book.
Winner Children’s Books
The Marvelous Effect (Marvelous World)
by Troy CLE
Louis Proof is an ordinary kid.
He loves listening to hip-hop, racing radio-controlled cars, and hanging out with his best friend, Brandon. Then a mysterious letter invites him to visit the local junkyard. There he finds a secret, underground amusement park like no other in existence. This is the best day of Louis’s life. The park even has the most amazing race course for radio-controlled cars. Louis starts racing right away. It’s a close contest; he’s about to activate his nitro boost to take the lead, when…
This is the worst day of Louis’s life. Without warning or reason, thirteen-year-old Louis Proof falls into a coma due to a virus of a mysterious, celestial origin. When he awakens three months later, the world that he once knew and loved is totally out of control. He will learn that his illness is connected to everything that is wrong, and that it’s not only his responsibility but his destiny to set things right.
This story is a megadramatic, remarkably true, super action fantasy. Get ready!
Nominee Children’s Books
A stirring, dramatic story of a slave who mails himself to freedom by a Jane Addams Peace Award-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning artist.
Henry Brown doesn’t know how old he is. Nobody keeps records of slaves’ birthdays. All the time he dreams about freedom, but that dream seems farther away than ever when he is torn from his family and put to work in a warehouse. Henry grows up and marries, but he is again devastated when his family is sold at the slave market. Then one day, as he lifts a crate at the warehouse, he knows exactly what he must do: He will mail himself to the North. After an arduous journey in the crate, Henry finally has a birthday — his first day of freedom.
Nominee Children’s Books
Sugar Cane: A Caribbean Rapunzel
by Patricia Storace
“You live in a tower without a stair,
Sugar Cane, Sugar Cane, let down your hair.”
Stolen away from her parents on her first birthday by island sorceress Madam Fate, beautiful Sugar Cane grows up in a tower overlooking the sea. With only a pet green monkey named Callaloo for company, Sugar Cane is lonely?her only consolation is her love of music. Often she stands at her window and sings, imagining that the echo of her voiceis someone answering her. Then one night, someone does hear her song, but could this young man with a gift for music break the spell of Madam Fate and help Sugar Cane set herself free?
Nominee Children’s Books
The Shadow Speaker
by Nnedi Okorafor
Niger, West Africa, 2070:
Nominee Children’s Books
Sallie Gal And The Wall-a-kee Man
by Shelia P. Moses
Shelia P. Moses, National Book Award finalist and Coretta Scott King Award Honor author, debuts on the Scholastic Press list with a heartwarming young chapter book series.
Sallie Gal admires cousin Wild Cat’s hair ribbons that fly in the wind when she jumps double Dutch. More than anything, Sallie Gal wants a set of her very own. But country folks can’t get to town so easily. And even though Mama and Sallie Gal work hard in the cotton fields, money is hard to come by. Especially for things they don’t need. But one day, the Wall-a-kee Man comes through. He has a whole general store right in the back of his station wagon! When the Wall-a-Kee man secretly slips Sallie Gal some ribbons as a gift into the bag with (continued)
by Tracy K. Smith
Winner 2008 Essence Literary Award for Poetry (AALBC.com was on the selection committee)
Every poem is the story of itself.
Pure conflict. Its own undoing.
Breeze of dreams, then certain death.
Duende, that dark and elusive force described by Federico Garca Lorca, is the creative and ecstatic power an artist seeks to channel from within. It can lead the artist toward revelation, but it must also, Lorca says, accept and even serenade the possibility of death. Tracy K. Smith’s bold second poetry collection explores history and the intersections of folk traditions, political resistance, and personal survival. Duende gives passionate testament to suppressed cultures, and allows them to sing.
by Nikki Giovanni
A collection of eighty all new poems, Acolytes is distinctly Nikki Giovanni, but different. Not softened, but more inspired by love, celebration, memories and even nostalgia. She aims her intimate and sparing words at family and friends, the deaths of heroes and friends, favorite meals and candy, nature, libraries, and theatre. But in between, the deep and edgy conscience that has defined her for decades shines through when she writes about Rosa Parks, hurricane Katrina, and Emmett Till’s disappearance, leaving no doubt that Nikki has not traded one approach for another, but simply made room for both.
Totem (Apr Honickman 1St Book Prize)
by Gregory Pardlo
“Gregory Pardlo . . . wants to explore the druidic function of art, the works of jazz musicians, painters, poets, and others who live imaginatively, expand reality, and make imagination free.”—Brenda Hillman, from the introduction Totem, winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize, is the debut of a poet who has been listening for decades. In his youth, Gregory Pardlo heard stories of factory hours and picket lines from his father; in the bars, clubs, and on the radio he listens to jazz and blues, the rhythms, beats, and aspirations of which all of which seep into his poems.A former Cave Canem fellow, Pardlo creates work that is deeply autobiographical, drifting between childhood and adult life. He speaks a language simultaneously urban and highbrow, seamlessly switching from art analysis to sneakers hung over the telephone lines. Deeply rooted in a blue-collar world, he produces snapshots of a life that is so specific it becomes universal. From “Vincent’s Shoes”: On the wall above my desk: a pen
and ink affair which I copied
from a print hanging in the sushi
bar down the block:
inflected necks of pedestrians on a bridge
in the rain and here I hung
the hightops from a power line.
It was in me to do. I felt it in my gut
the way Vincent might have felt
the wheat fields and the smoking socket
of the sun rattling, tweezed days
late into the ear of an aluminum bowl Gregory Pardlo teaches at Medgar Evers College, The City University of New York, and lives in Brooklyn.