Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominees and Winning Books

Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Winning Books

The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award™ honors the best in Black literature. Introduced in 2001, the Legacy Award was the first national award presented to Black writers by a national organization of Black writers. Fiction, debut fiction, nonfiction, and poetry honorees are selected in a juried competition. Each October, the award winners are celebrated during a gala that draws hundreds of literary stars, readers, representatives of the publishing industry, the arts, media, politics, and academia. Learn more at the Hurston/Wright Foundation’s website


21 Books Honored by the National Book Foundation in 2016

Winner - Debut Fiction

Mourner’s Bench: A Novel
by Sanderia Faye

Publication Date: Sep 01, 2015
List Price: $19.95
Format: Paperback, 340 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781557286789
Imprint: University of Arkansas Press
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
Parent Company: University of Arkansas
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Read a Description of Mourner’s Bench: A Novel


Book Description: 
At the First Baptist Church of Maeby, Arkansas, the sins of the child belonged to the parents until the child turned thirteen. Sarah Jones was only eight years old in the summer of 1964, but with her mother Esther Mae on eight prayer lists and flipping around town with the generally mistrusted civil rights organizers, Sarah believed it was time to get baptized and take responsibility for her own sins. That would mean sitting on the mourner’s bench come revival, waiting for her sign, and then testifying in front of the whole church.

But first, Sarah would need to navigate the growing tensions of small-town Arkansas in the 1960s. Both smarter and more serious than her years (a “fifty-year-old mind in an eight-year-old body,” according to Esther), Sarah was torn between the traditions, religion, and work ethic of her community and the progressive civil rights and feminist politics of her mother, who had recently returned from art school in Chicago. When organizers from the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came to town just as the revival was beginning, Sarah couldn’t help but be caught up in the turmoil. Most folks just wanted to keep the peace, and Reverend Jefferson called the SNCC organizers “the evil among us.” But her mother, along with local civil rights activist Carrie Dilworth, the SNCC organizers, Daisy Bates, attorney John Walker, and indeed most of the country, seemed determined to push Maeby toward integration.

With characters as vibrant and evocative as their setting, Mourner’s Bench is the story of a young girl coming to terms with religion, racism, and feminism while also navigating the terrain of early adolescence and trying to settle into her place in her family and community.


Winner - Fiction

Delicious Foods: A Novel
by James Hannaham

Publication Date: Mar 17, 2015
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780316284943
Imprint: Little, Brown and Company
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Parent Company: Hachette Livre
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Read a Description of Delicious Foods: A Novel


Book Description: 
WINNER OF THE 2016 PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FOR FICTION

WINNER OF THE HURSTON/WRIGHT LEGACY FICTION AWARD

FINALIST FOR THE 2016 DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE

FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES PRIZE FOR FICTION

NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times, Washington Post

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, Kirkus, BuzzFeed, National Post, Kansas City Star

TOP 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Publishers Weekly
TOP 15 BOOKS OF THE YEAR: BookPage

Held captive by her employers—and by her own demons—on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival.

Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace.

Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.

In Delicious Foods, James Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them. Through Darlene’s haunted struggle to reunite with Eddie, through the efforts of both to triumph over those who would enslave them, and through the irreverent and mischievous voice of the drug that narrates Darlene’s travails, Hannaham’s daring and shape-shifting prose infuses this harrowing experience with grace and humor.

The desperate circumstances that test the unshakeable bond between this mother and son unfold into myth, and Hannaham’s treatment of their ordeal spills over with compassion. Along the way we experience a tale at once contemporary and historical that wrestles with timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, tenacity and the will to survive.


Winner - Nonfiction

Spectacle: The Astonishing Life Of Ota Benga
by Pamela Newkirk

Publication Date: Jun 01, 2015
List Price: $25.99
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780062201003
Imprint: Amistad
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation
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Read a Description of Spectacle: The Astonishing Life Of Ota Benga


Book Description: 

An award-winning journalist reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a human zoo exhibit—a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century in the tradition of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Devil in the White City, and Medical Apartheid.

In 1904, Ota Benga, a young Congolese “pygmy”—a person of petite stature—arrived from central Africa and was featured in an anthropology exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Two years later, the New York Zoological Gardens displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, 4-foot 11-inch tall man with an orangutan. The attraction became an international sensation, drawing thousands of New Yorkers and commanding headlines from across the nation and Europe.

Spectacle explores the circumstances of Ota Benga’s captivity, the international controversy it inspired, and his efforts to adjust to American life. It also reveals why, decades later, the man most responsible for his exploitation would be hailed as his friend and savior, while those who truly fought for Ota have been banished to the shadows of history. Using primary historical documents, Pamela Newkirk traces Ota’s tragic life, from Africa to St. Louis to New York, and finally to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he lived out the remainder of his short life.

Illuminating this unimaginable event, Spectacle charts the evolution of science and race relations in New York City during the early years of the twentieth century, exploring this racially fraught era for Africa-Americans and the rising tide of political disenfranchisement and social scorn they endured, forty years after the end of the Civil War. Shocking and compelling Spectacle is a masterful work of social history that raises difficult questions about racial prejudice and discrimination that continue to haunt us today.




Winner - Poetry

Forest Primeval: Poems
by Vievee Francis

Publication Date: Nov 30, 2015
List Price: $16.95
Format: Paperback, 104 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9780810132436
Imprint: TriQuarterly Books
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Parent Company: Northwestern University
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Read a Description of Forest Primeval: Poems


Book Description: 
"Another Anti-Pastoral," the opening poem of Forest Primeval, confesses that sometimes "words fail." With a "bleat in [her] throat," the poet identifies with the voiceless and wild things in the composed, imposed peace of the Romantic poets with whom she is in dialogue. Vievee Francis’s poems engage many of the same concerns as her poetic predecessors—faith in a secular age, the city and nature, aging, and beauty. Words certainly do not fail as Francis sets off into the wild world promised in the title. The wild here is not chaotic but rather free and finely attuned to its surroundings. The reader who joins her will emerge sensitized and changed by the enduring power of her work.


Finalist - Fiction

The Lost Child: A Novel
by Caryl Phillips

Publication Date: Mar 10, 2015
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780374191375
Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers
Parent Company: Holtzbrinck Publishing Group
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Book Description: 
Caryl Phillips’s The Lost Child is a sweeping story of orphans and outcasts, haunted by the past and fighting to liberate themselves from it. At its center is Monica Johnson?cut off from her parents after falling in love with a foreigner?and her bitter struggle to raise her sons in the shadow of the wild moors of the north of England. Phillips intertwines her modern narrative with the childhood of one of literature’s most enigmatic lost boys, as he deftly conjures young Heathcliff, the anti-hero of Wuthering Heights, and his ragged existence before Mr. Earnshaw brought him home to his family. The Lost Child is a multifaceted, deeply original response to Emily Bronte’s masterpiece, Wuthering Heights. A critically acclaimed and sublimely talented storyteller, Caryl Phillips is "in a league with Toni Morrison and V. S. Naipaul" (Booklist) and "his novels have a way of growing on you, staying with you long after you’ve closed the book." (The New York Times Book Review) A true literary feat, The Lost Child recovers the mysteries of the past to illuminate the predicaments of the present, getting at the heart of alienation, exile, and family by transforming a classic into a profound story that is singularly its own.


Finalist - Fiction

The Turner House
by Angela Flournoy

Publication Date: Apr 14, 2015
List Price: $23.00
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780544303164
Imprint: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Parent Company: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Read a Description of The Turner House


Book Description: 
A powerful, timely debut, The Turner House marks a major new contribution to the story of the American family.

The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts and shapes their family’s future.

Praised by Ayana Mathis as “utterly moving” and “un-putdownable,” The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.


Finalist - Nonfiction

The Light Of The World: A Memoir
by Elizabeth Alexander

Publication Date: Apr 21, 2015
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781455599875
Imprint: Grand Central Publishing
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Parent Company: Hachette Livre
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Book Description: 
New York Times BestsellerNew York Times Book Review Editor’s ChoiceAmazon’s Best Books of the Month, April 2015IndieBound Indie Next #1 Pick, May 2015Washington Post’s "21 Books We’ve Loved So Far This Year" PickBuzzfeed’s "53 Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down" PickGOOP’s "The Best Summer ’15 Reading" Pick
A deeply resonant memoir for anyone who has loved and lost, from acclaimed poet and Pulitzer Prize finalist Elizabeth Alexander.
In THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, Elizabeth Alexander finds herself at an existential crossroads after the sudden death of her husband. Channeling her poetic sensibilities into a rich, lucid price, Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband’s death, and the solace found in caring for her two teenage sons, Alexander universalizes a very personal quest for meaning and acceptance in the wake of loss.
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is at once an endlessly compelling memoir and a deeply felt meditation on the blessings of love, family, art, and community. It is also a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived and a paean to the priceless gift of human companionship. For those who have loved and lost, or for anyone who cares what matters most, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD is required reading.

Finalist - Nonfiction

Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic
by Gerald Horne

Publication Date: Oct 22, 2015
List Price: $25.00
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781583675625
Imprint: Monthly Review Press
Publisher: Monthly Review Press
Parent Company: Monthly Review Foundation
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Read a Description of Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic


Book Description: 
The Haitian Revolution, the product of the first successful slave revolt, was truly world-historic in its impact. When Haiti declared independence in 1804, the leading powers—France, Great Britain, and Spain—suffered an ignominious defeat and the New World was remade. The island revolution also had a profound impact on Haiti’s mainland neighbor, the United States. Inspiring the enslaved and partisans of emancipation while striking terror throughout the Southern slaveocracy, it propelled the fledgling nation one step closer to civil war. Gerald Horne’s path breaking new work explores the complex and often fraught relationship between the United States and the island of Hispaniola. Giving particular attention to the responses of African Americans, Horne surveys the reaction in the United States to the revolutionary process in the nation that became Haiti, the splitting of the island in 1844, which led to the formation of the Dominican Republic, and the failed attempt by the United States to annex both in the 1870s.Drawing upon a rich collection of archival and other primary source materials, Horne deftly weaves together a disparate array of voices—world leaders and diplomats, slaveholders, white abolitionists, and the freedom fighters he terms Black Jacobins. Horne at once illuminates the tangled conflicts of the colonial powers, the commercial interests and imperial ambitions of U.S. elites, and the brutality and tenacity of the American slaveholding class, while never losing sight of the freedom struggles of Africans both on the island and on the mainland, which sought the fulfillment of the emancipatory promise of 18th century republicanism.


Finalist - Poetry

Honest Engine: Poems
by Kyle Dargan

Publication Date: Apr 01, 2015
List Price: $16.95
Format: Paperback, 96 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9780820347288
Imprint: University of Georgia Press
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Parent Company: University of Georgia
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Read a Description of Honest Engine: Poems


Book Description: 
In this his fourth collection, award-winning poet Kyle Dargan examines the mechanics of the heart and mind as they are weathered by loss. Following a spate of deaths among family and friends, Dargan chooses to present not color-negative elegies but self-portraits that capture what of these departed figures remains within him. Amid this processing of mortality, it becomes clear that he has arrived at a turning point as a writer and a man.As the title suggests, Dargan aspires toward an unflinching honesty. These poems do not purport to possess life’s answers or seek to employ language to mask what they do not know. Dargan confesses as a means of reaching out to the nomadic human soul and inviting it to accompany him on a walk toward the unknown.


Finalist - Poetry

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (Pitt Poetry Series)
by Ross Gay

Publication Date: Jan 07, 2015
List Price: $15.95
Format: Paperback, 112 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9780822963318
Imprint: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Parent Company: University of Pittsburgh
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Read a Description of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (Pitt Poetry Series)


Book Description: 
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is a sustained meditation on that which goes away—loved ones, the seasons, the earth as we know it—that tries to find solace in the processes of the garden and the orchard. That is, this is a book that studies the wisdom of the garden and orchard, those places where all—death, sorrow, loss—is converted into what might, with patience, nourish us.

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude has been "longlisted" for the National Book Award, poetry category.


Nominee - Debut Fiction

Book Description: In a Nigerian town in the mid 1990’s, four brothers encounter a madman whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the core of their close-knit family. Told from the point of view of nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, THE FISHERMEN is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990’s Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of its characters and its readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, The Fishermen never leaves Akure but the story it tells has enormous universal appeal. Seen through the prism of one family’s destiny, this is an essential novel about Africa with all of its contradictions-economic, political, and religious-and the epic beauty of its own culture. With this bold debut, Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the most original new voices of modern African literature, echoing its older generation’s masterful storytelling with a contemporary fearlessness and purpose.


Nominee - Debut Fiction

The Star Side of Bird Hill
by Naomi Jackson

Publication Date: Jun 30, 2015
List Price: $25.95
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781594205958
Imprint: Penguin Press
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Read a Description of The Star Side of Bird Hill


Book Description: 
Two sisters are suddenly sent from their home in Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother, in this stunning debut novel.

This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.

Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother’s limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother’s mysterious life.

This tautly paced coming-of-age story builds to a crisis when the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family.

Jackson’s Barbados and her characters are singular, especially the wise Hyacinth and the heartbreaking young Phaedra, who is coming into her own as a young woman amid the tumult of her family.


Nominee - Fiction

Welcome to Braggsville: A Novel
by T. Geronimo Johnson

Publication Date: Feb 17, 2015
List Price: $25.99
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780062302120
Imprint: Penguin Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Read a Description of Welcome to Braggsville: A Novel


Book Description: 
From the PEN/Faulkner finalist and critically acclaimed author of Hold It ’Til It Hurts comes a dark and socially provocative Southern-fried comedy about four UC Berkeley students who stage a dramatic protest during a Civil War reenactment—a fierce, funny, tragic work from a bold new writer.Welcome to Braggsville. The City that Love Built in the Heart of Georgia. Population 712Born and raised in the heart of old Dixie, D’aron Davenport finds himself in unfamiliar territory his freshman year at UC Berkeley. Two thousand miles and a world away from his childhood, he is a small-town fish floundering in the depths of a large, hyper-liberal pond. Caught between the prosaic values of his rural hometown and the intellectualized multicultural cosmopolitanism of Berzerkeley, the nineteen-year-old white kid is uncertain about his place until one disastrous party brings him three idiosyncratic best friends: Louis, a “kung-fu comedian" from California; Candice, an earnest do-gooder claiming Native roots from Iowa; and Charlie, an introspective inner-city black teen from Chicago. They dub themselves the “4 Little Indians.”But everything changes in the group’s alternative history class, when D’aron lets slip that his hometown hosts an annual Civil War reenactment, recently rebranded “Patriot Days.” His announcement is met with righteous indignation, and inspires Candice to suggest a “performative intervention” to protest the reenactment. Armed with youthful self-importance, makeshift slave costumes, righteous zeal, and their own misguided ideas about the South, the 4 Little Indians descend on Braggsville. Their journey through backwoods churches, backroom politics, Waffle Houses, and drunken family barbecues is uproarious to start, but will have devastating consequences.With the keen wit of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and the deft argot of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, T. Geronimo Johnson has written an astonishing, razor-sharp satire. Using a panoply of styles and tones, from tragicomic to Southern Gothic, he skewers issues of class, race, intellectual and political chauvinism, Obamaism, social media, and much more.A literary coming-of-age novel for a new generation, written with tremendous social insight and a unique, generous heart, Welcome to Braggsville reminds us of the promise and perils of youthful exuberance, while painting an indelible portrait of contemporary America.

Nominee - Fiction

Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

Publication Date: Sep 22, 2015
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780544003446
Imprint: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Parent Company: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Read a Description of Under the Udala Trees


Book Description: Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees s a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.

As Edwidge Danticat has made Under the Udala Treesuses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

Acclaimed byVogue, theFinancial Times,and many others, Chinelo Okparanta continues to distill experience into something crystalline, stark but lustrous (New York Times Book Review).Under the Udala Treesmarks the further rise of a star whose tales will break your heart open (New York Daily News).

Nominee - Fiction

The Sellout
by Paul Beatty

Publication Date: Mar 01, 2016
List Price: $17.00
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781250083258
Imprint: Picador
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers
Parent Company: Holtzbrinck Publishing Group
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Read a Description of The Sellout


Book Description: 

The Sellout, won the Man Booker Prize on October 25, 2016. Paul Beatty is the first American to win the award.

The Sellout is also:

  • Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction
  • Named one of the best books of 2015 by The New York Times Book Review and the Wall Street Journal

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.

Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake.&rdquo Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.



Nominee - Nonfiction

Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America’s Black Colleges and Culture
by Ron Stodghill

Publication Date: Sep 22, 2015
List Price: $26.99
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780062323231
Imprint: Amistad
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation
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Read a Description of Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America’s Black Colleges and Culture


Book Description: 
A richly reported account of the forces threatening America’s historic black colleges and universities—and how diverse leaders nationwide are struggling to keep these institutions and black culture alive for future generations.American education is under siege, and few parts of the system are more threatened than black colleges and universities. Once hailed as national treasures, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) such as Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Howard University—the backbone of the nation’s black middle class which have produced legends including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Oprah Winfrey—are in a fight for survival. The threats are numerous: Republican state legislators are determined to merge, consolidate, or shut down historically black colleges and universities; Ivy League institutions are poaching the best black high school students; President Obama’s push for heightened performance standards, and cuts in loan funding from the U.S. Department of Education.In this tightly woven narrative full of intriguing characters, Where Everybody Looks Like Me chronicles this near breaking point for black colleges. Award-winning journalist Ron Stodghill offers a rare behind-closed-doors look into the private world of the boards of directors, the black intelligentsia, the leaders of business, law, politics, culture, and sports, and other influential figures involved in the debate and battle to save these institutions. Told from the perspective of a family, Where Everybody Looks Like Me shows their struggle to secure the best education for their child. Where Everybody Looks Like Me is a tale of vision and vanity—of boardroom backbiting, financial chicanery, idealism and passion. Here are administrators, celebrities, alumni, and others whose lives are intricately tied to these institutions and their fate—whether they will remain strong and vital, or become a revered part of our cultural past.


Nominee - Nonfiction

Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We "Catch" Mental Illness
by Harriet A. Washington

Publication Date: Oct 04, 2016
List Price: $15.99
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780316277815
Imprint: Back Bay Books
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Parent Company: Back Bay Books
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Read a Description of Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We "Catch" Mental Illness


Book Description: 
"Fascinating…A superb book."—Robert Sapolsky, Stanford professor of neuroscience and neurosurgery and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

What causes mental illness? We’ve long blamed stress, trauma, and brain-chemistry imbalances. But a new theory is quietly achieving critical mass. In INFECTIOUS MADNESS, award-winning science writer Harriet Washington reveals that schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s, and anorexia also may be caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Weaving together cutting-edge research and case studies, INFECTIOUS MADNESS shows how strep throat can trigger rapid-onset OCD in a formerly healthy teen and how contact with cat litter elevates the risk of schizophrenia. Featuring a new afterword by the author, and rich in science, medical mysteries, cultural nuance, and evidence-based recommendations, INFECTIOUS MADNESS pulls back the curtain on a new paradigm with profound implications for us all.


Nominee - Nonfiction

The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America
by D. Watkins

Publication Date: Sep 08, 2015
List Price: $21.99
Format: Hardcover, 176 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781510703353
Imprint: Hot Books
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Parent Company: Skyhorse Publishing
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Read a Description of The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America


Book Description: 
Searing Dispatches from the Urban Zones Where African American Men Have Become an Endangered Species

To many in the age of Obama, America had succeeded in going beyond race, putting the divisions of the past behind us. And then seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot by a wannabe cop in Florida; and then eighteen-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; and then Baltimore blew up; and then gunfire shattered a prayer meeting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Suddenly the entire country awakened to a stark fact: African Americans—particularly young black men—are an endangered species.

Now the country’ urban war zone is brought powerfully to life by a rising young literary talent, D. Watkins. The author fought his way up on the east side (the “beast side ) of Baltimore, Maryland—or “Bodymore, Murderland,” as his friends call it—surviving murderous business rivals in the drug trade and equally predatory lawmen. Throughout it all, he pursued his education, earning a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, while staying rooted in his community.

When black residents of Baltimore finally decided they had had enough—after the brutal killing of twenty-five-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody—Watkins was on the streets when the city erupted. He writes about his bleeding hometown with the razor-sharp insights of someone who bleeds along with it. Here are true dispatches from the other side of America.


Nominee - Poetry

How to Be Drawn
by Terrance Hayes

Publication Date: Mar 31, 2015
List Price: $20.00
Format: Paperback, 112 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9780143126881
Imprint: William Morrow
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation
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Read a Description of How to Be Drawn


Book Description: 
A dazzling new collection of poetry by Terrance Hayes, the National Book Award winning author of Lighthead

In How to Be Drawn, his daring fifth collection, Terrance Hayes explores how we see and are seen. While many of these poems bear the clearest imprint yet of Hayes’s background as a visual artist, they do not strive to describe art so much as inhabit it. Thus, one poem contemplates the
principle of blind contour drawing while others are inspired by maps, graphs, and assorted artists. The formal and emotional versatilities that distinguish Hayes’s award-winning poetry are unified by existential focus. Simultaneously complex and transparent, urgent and composed, How to Be Drawn is a mesmerizing achievement.

Nominee - Poetry

It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time: Poems
by Angela Jackson

Publication Date: Feb 15, 2015
List Price: $18.95
Format: Paperback, 144 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9780810130517
Imprint: TriQuarterly Books
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Parent Company: Northwestern University
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Book Description: 
Angela Jackson’s latest collection of poetry borrows its title from a lyric in Barbara Lewis’s 1963 hit single “Hello Stranger,” recorded at Chess Records in Chicago. Like the song, Jackson’s poems are a melodic ode to the African American experience, informed by both individual lives and community history, from the arrival of the first African slave in Virginia in 1619 to post-Obama America.It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time reflects the maturity of Jackson’s poetic vision. The Great Migration, the American South, and Chicago all serve as signposts, but it is the complexity of individual lives—both her own and those who have gone before, walk beside, and come after—that invigorate this collection. Upon surveying so vast a landscape, Jackson finds that sorrow meets delight, and joy lifts up anger and despair. And for all this time, love is the agent, the wise and just rule and guide.


Nominee - Poetry

Voyage of the Sable Venus: and Other Poems
by Robin Coste Lewis

Publication Date: Sep 29, 2015
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 160 pages
Classification: Poetry
ISBN13: 9781101875438
Imprint: Knopf
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Read a Description of Voyage of the Sable Venus: and Other Poems


Book Description: 
A stunning poetry debut: this meditation on the black female figure throughout time introduces us to a brave and penetrating new voice.

Robin Coste Lewis’s electrifying collection is a triptych that begins and ends with lyric poems considering the roles desire and race play in the construction of the self. The central panel is the title poem, “Voyage of the Sable Venus,” a riveting narrative made up entirely of titles of artworks from ancient times to the present—titles that feature or in some way comment on the black female figure in Western art. Bracketed by Lewis’s autobiographical poems, “Voyage” is a tender and shocking study of the fragmentary mysteries of stereotype, as it juxtaposes our names for things with what we actually see and know. Offering a new understanding of biography and the self, this collection questions just where, historically, do ideas about the black female figure truly begin—five hundred years ago, five thousand, or even longer? And what role has art played in this ancient, often heinous story? From the “Young Black Female Carrying / a Perfume Vase” to a “Little Brown Girl / Girl Standing in a Tree / First Day of Voluntary / School Integration,” this poet adores her culture and the beauty to be found within it. Yet she is also a cultural critic alert to the nuances of race and desire and how they define us all, including herself, as she explores her own sometimes painful history. Lewis’s book is a thrilling aesthetic anthem to the complexity of race—a full embrace of its pleasure and horror, in equal parts.