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

20 Books Honored by the National Book Foundation in 2020

Winner - Debut Fiction

by Jeffrey Colvin

Publication Date: Dec 01, 2020
List Price: $16.99
Format: Paperback
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780062913715
Imprint: Amistad
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation

Read a Description of Africaville

Book Description: 

2020 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominee-Debut Fiction

A ferociously talented writer makes his stunning debut with this richly woven tapestry, set in a small Nova Scotia town settled by former slaves, that depicts several generations of one family bound together and torn apart by blood, faith, time, and fate.

Vogue : Best Books to Read This Winter

Structured as a triptych, Africaville chronicles the lives of three generations of the Sebolt family—Kath Ella, her son Omar/Etienne, and her grandson Warner—whose lives unfold against the tumultuous events of the twentieth century from the Great Depression of the 1930s, through the social protests of the 1960s to the economic upheavals in the 1980s.

A century earlier, Kath Ella’s ancestors established a new home in Nova Scotia. Like her ancestors, Kath Ella’s life is shaped by hardship—she struggles to conceive and to provide for her family during the long, bitter Canadian winters. She must also contend with the locals’ lingering suspicions about the dark-skinned “outsiders” who live in their midst.

Kath Ella’s fierce love for her son, Omar, cannot help her overcome the racial prejudices that linger in this remote, tight-knit place. As he grows up, the rebellious Omar refutes the past and decides to break from the family, threatening to upend all that Kath Ella and her people have tried to build. Over the decades, each successive generation drifts further from Africaville, yet they take a piece of this indelible place with them as they make their way to Montreal, Vermont, and beyond, to the deep South of America.

As it explores notions of identity, passing, cross-racial relationships, the importance of place, and the meaning of home, Africaville tells the larger story of the black experience in parts of Canada and the United States. Vibrant and lyrical, filled with colorful details, and told in a powerful, haunting voice, this extraordinary novel—as atmospheric and steeped in history as The Known World, Barracoon, The Underground Railroad, and The Twelve Tribes of Hattie—is a landmark work from a sure-to-be major literary talent.

Winner - Fiction

A Tall History of Sugar
by Curdella Forbes

    Publication Date: Oct 01, 2019
    List Price: $28.95
    Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9781617757518
    Imprint: Akashic Books
    Publisher: Akashic Books
    Parent Company: Akashic Books

    Read a Description of A Tall History of Sugar

    Book Description: 

    A haunting, epic Caribbean love story, reminiscent of Gabriel José García Márquez Love in the Time of Cholera.

    WINNER of the 2020 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction!

    "A Tall History of Sugar is a gift for grown-up fans of fairy tales and those who love fiction that metes out hard and surprising truths. Forbes’s writing combines the gale-force imagination of Margaret Atwood with the lyrical pointillism of Toni Morrison."
    New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

    "A mesmerizing love story that takes place over 50 years in Jamaica."
    Tayari Jones in O, the Oprah Magazine

    A Tall History of Sugar has been longlisted for the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (Fiction shortlist)!

    "Curdella Forbes’s A Tall History of Sugar is the most recent in an impressive new wave of novels by Jamaican writers—from Marlon James’s Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings to Kei Miller’s Augustown, Marcia Douglas’s The Marvelous Equations of the Dread, and Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Patsy, among others. Forbes provides an eclectic, feverish vision of Jamaican ’history’ from the 1950s to the present glimpsed through the experiences of an abandoned mystic-child named Moshe, whose translucent skin and mismatched eyes defy racial category. Who he is and who he becomes—like the country itself—is a riddle that unfolds in episodic bursts and linguistic flourishes."
    Vanity Fair, one of the Best Books of 2019

    "An epic tale of two soulmates: Moshe Fisher, born with mismatched eyes and pale skin that bruises easily, and Arrienne Christie, ’her skin even at birth the color of the wettest molasses, with a purple tinge under the surface.’ Arrienne is his protector at school—and later his lover—but how they eventually wind up together is part of this unconventionally crafted story that spans decades, from the years before Jamaica’s independence to the 2010s. Forbes’ sentences are the stars here; it’s a book that rewards slow, careful reading."
    BuzzFeed, included in BuzzFeed’s Fall 2019 Preview

    A Tall History of Sugar tells the story of Moshe Fisher, a man who was "born without skin," so that no one is able to tell what race he belongs to; and Arrienne Christie, his quixotic soul mate who makes it her duty in life to protect Moshe from the social and emotional consequences of his strange appearance.

    The narrative begins with Moshe’s birth in the late 1950s, four years before Jamaica’s independence from colonial rule, and ends in the era of what Forbes calls "the fall of empire," the era of Brexit and Donald Trump. The historical trajectory layers but never overwhelms the scintillating love story as the pair fight to establish their own view of loving, against the moral force of the colonial "plantation" and its legacies that continue to affect their lives and the lives of those around them.

    Written in lyrical, luminous prose that spans the range of Jamaican Englishes, this remarkable story follows the couple’s mysterious love affair from childhood to adulthood, from the haunted environs of rural Jamaica to the city of Kingston, and then to England—another haunted locale in Forbes’s rendition.

    Following on the footsteps of Marlon James’s debut novel, John Crow’s Devil, which Akashic Books published in 2005, we are delighted to introduce another lion of Jamaican literature with the publication of A Tall History of Sugar.

    Winner - Nonfiction

    by Albert Woodfox

    Publication Date: Dec 03, 2019
    List Price: $18.00
    Format: Paperback, 448 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    ISBN13: 9780802148308
    Imprint: Grove Press
    Publisher: Grove Atlantic, Inc.
    Parent Company: Grove Atlantic, Inc.

    Read a Description of Solitary

    Book Description: 

    Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement—in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana—all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.

    Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in his early twenties to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitment and code of living, Albert was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitary confinement by the warden. Without a shred of actual evidence against them, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteen more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016.

    Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him in solitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers, Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as they became known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity and corruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. He survived to give us Solitary, a chronicle of rare power and humanity that proves the better spirits of our nature can thrive against any odds.

    Winner - Poetry

    Exiles of Eden
    by Ladan Osman

      Publication Date: May 07, 2019
      List Price: $16.95
      Format: Paperback, 128 pages
      Classification: Poetry
      ISBN13: 9781566895446
      Imprint: Coffee House Press
      Publisher: Coffee House Press
      Parent Company: Coffee House Press

      Read a Description of Exiles of Eden

      Book Description: 
      Poems steeped in the Somali tradition refract the streets of Ferguson, the halls of Guantanamo, and the fields near Abu Ghraib through the myth of Adam and Eve to ask: What does it mean to be a refugee?

      Finalist - Fiction

      Gingerbread: A Novel
      by Helen Oyeyemi

      Publication Date: Mar 05, 2019
      List Price: $27.00
      Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
      Classification: Fiction
      ISBN13: 9781594634659
      Imprint: Riverhead Books
      Publisher: Penguin Random House
      Parent Company: Bertelsmann

      Read a Description of Gingerbread: A Novel

      Book Description: 
      The prize-winning, bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and inventive novel.

      Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children’s stories—equal parts wholesome and uncanny, from the tantalizing witch’s house in "Hansel and Gretel" to the man-shaped confection who one day decides to run as fast as he can—beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.

      Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druh strana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. The world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval —a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.

      Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother’s long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet’s story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi’s inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.

      Finalist - Fiction

      The World Doesn’t Require You: Stories
      by Rion Amilcar Scott

      Publication Date: Aug 20, 2019
      List Price: $25.95
      Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
      Classification: Fiction
      ISBN13: 9781631495380
      Imprint: Liveright Publishing Corporation
      Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
      Parent Company: Liveright Publishing Corporation

      Read a Description of The World Doesn’t Require You: Stories

      Book Description: 

      Breathtakingly imaginative and unapologetically original, The World Doesn’t Require You announces a bold, generational talent.

      Finalist - Nonfiction

      Think Black
      by Clyde W. Ford

      Publication Date: Sep 17, 2019
      List Price: $25.99
      Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
      Classification: Nonfiction
      ISBN13: 9780062890566
      Imprint: Amistad
      Publisher: HarperCollins
      Parent Company: News Corporation

      Read a Description of Think Black

      Book Description: 

      In this thought-provoking and heartbreaking memoir, an award-winning writer tells the story of his father, John Stanley Ford, the first black software engineer at IBM, revealing how racism insidiously affected his father’s view of himself and their relationship.

      In 1947, Thomas J. Watson set out to find the best and brightest minds for IBM. At City College he met young accounting student John Stanley Ford and hired him to become IBM’s first black software engineer. But not all of the company’s white employees refused to accept a black colleague and did everything in their power to humiliate, subvert, and undermine Ford.

      Yet Ford would not quit. Viewing the job as the opportunity of a lifetime, he comported himself with dignity and professionalism, and relied on his community and his “street smarts” to succeed. He did not know that his hiring was meant to distract from IBM’s dubious business practices, including its involvement in the Holocaust, eugenics, and apartheid.

      While Ford remained at IBM, it came at great emotional cost to himself and his family, especially his son Clyde. Overlooked for promotions he deserved, the embittered Ford began blaming his fate on his skin color and the notion that darker-skinned people like him were less intelligent and less capable—beliefs that painfully divided him and Clyde, who followed him to IBM two decades later.

      From his first day of work — with his wide-lapelled suit, bright red turtleneck, and huge afro — Clyde made clear he was different. Only IBM hadn’t changed. As he, too, experienced the same institutional racism, Clyde began to better understand the subtle yet daring ways his father had fought back.

      Finalist - Nonfiction

      Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals
      by Saidiya Hartman

        Publication Date: Jan 14, 2020
        List Price: $17.95
        Format: Paperback, 464 pages
        Classification: Nonfiction
        ISBN13: 9780393357622
        Imprint: W. W. Norton & Company
        Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
        Parent Company: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

        Read a Description of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals

        Book Description: 

        Beautifully written and deeply researched, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments examines the revolution of black intimate life that unfolded in Philadelphia and New York at the beginning of the twentieth century. In wrestling with the question of what a free life is, many young black women created forms of intimacy and kinship indifferent to the dictates of respectability and outside the bounds of law. They cleaved to and cast off lovers, exchanged sex to subsist, and revised the meaning of marriage. Longing and desire fueled their experiments in how to live. They refused to labor like slaves or to accept degrading conditions of work. Here, for the first time, these women are credited with shaping a cultural movement that transformed the urban landscape. Through a melding of history and literary imagination, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments recovers these women’s radical aspirations and insurgent desires.

        Finalist - Poetry

        & More Black
        by t’ai freedom ford

          Publication Date: Jul 01, 2019
          List Price: $18.00
          Format: Paperback, 104 pages
          Classification: Poetry
          ISBN13: 9780999501214
          Imprint: Augury Books
          Publisher: Brooklyn Arts Press
          Parent Company: Brooklyn Arts Press

          Read a Description of & More Black

          Book Description: 
          Poetry. African & African American Studies. Women’s Studies. LGBTQIA Studies. Winner of the 2020 LAMBA Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry. Nominated for a 2020 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry. t’ai freedom ford’s second collection of poems, & MORE BLACK, is direct, ingenious, vibrant, alive, queer, & BLACK. By turns tough and sexy, wrapped up in the evolving language and sonics of life, these poems take their cue from Wanda Coleman’s American Sonnets as they rhapsodize and dialogue with artists such as Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon, and Wangechi Mutu, along with many other musicians, artists, and writers. The kinetic energy of ford’s words leap off the page in rebellious, stunning, and revelatory fashion-poems that mesmerize with sheer velocity and telling pauses.

          Finalist - Poetry

          by Asiya Wadud

          Publication Date: Sep 01, 2019
          List Price: $17.00
          Format: Paperback, 80 pages
          Classification: Poetry
          ISBN13: 9781946433299
          Imprint: Ugly Duckling Presse
          Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse
          Parent Company: Ugly Duckling Presse

          Read Our Review of Syncope

          Read a Description of Syncope

          Book Description: 

          Poetry. Through a series of prayers, invocations, and hymns, Syncope eulogizes those who have perished making Central Mediterranean crossings as well as collects first-hand accounts of those who have survived these perilous journeys. Forces of fate brought errant lives together for a hopeful safe passage and ultimately, linked these lives in their untimely deaths. Syncope attempts to shed some light on these lives, as well as the happenstance of living and dying while trying to cross a border.

          Nominee - Debut Fiction

          Avery Colt Is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar
          by Ron A. Austin

          Publication Date: Oct 01, 2019
          List Price: $18.00
          Format: Paperback, 172 pages
          Classification: Fiction
          ISBN13: 9781732039919
          Imprint: Southeast Missouri State University Press
          Publisher: Southeast Missouri State University Press
          Parent Company: Southeast Missouri State University

          Read a Description of Avery Colt Is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar

          Book Description: 
          Austin’s semi-autobiographical, linked story collection follows the misadventures of Avery Colt as he struggles to survive in North St. Louis alongside his family. Learning the best way to slaughter a goat, rebuilding his family’s corner market, and reckoning the weight of a revolver are a few of the challenges Avery faces. As he matures through each page, Avery takes control of his circumstances and attempts dangerous feats of alchemy. Charged with urgency and emotion, Austin’s prose faithfully renders a community determined to overcome crisis with strength, dark humor, and plenty of heart.

          Nominee - Debut Fiction

          As a River
          by Sion Dayson

          Publication Date: Sep 03, 2019
          List Price: $17.99
          Format: Paperback, 218 pages
          Classification: Fiction
          ISBN13: 9781938841101
          Imprint: Jaded Ibis Press
          Publisher: Jaded Ibis Press
          Parent Company: Jaded Ibis Press, LLC

          Read a Description of As a River

          Book Description: 

          It’s 1977. Bannen, Georgia, nestled amid pine forests, is rife with contrasts: natural beauty and racial tension, small-town charm and long-term poverty. An unsettling place for a Black man who fled it years ago and has since traveled the world.

          But Greer Michaels has to come home, to care for his dying mother.

          And that means he’ll have to reckon with the devastating secret that drove him out in the first place.

          Greer’s story is intertwined with those of the people around him: His mother, Elizabeth, who once had a dazzling singing voice but fell silent years ago. Their neighbor Esse, who has turned to religion after her own traumatic past. Esse’s teenaged daughter, Ceiley, an insatiable reader with a burning curiosity about life beyond Bannen’s town limits.

          Written in spare and lyrical prose, As a River moves back and forth across decades, evoking the mysterious play of memory as it touches upon shame and redemption, despair and connection. An exploration of family secrets rooted in the turbulent history of the segregated South, As a River is ultimately about our struggles to understand each other, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.

          Nominee - Fiction

          by Nicole Dennis-Benn

          Publication Date: Jun 04, 2019
          List Price: $26.95
          Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
          Classification: Fiction
          ISBN13: 9781631495632
          Imprint: Liveright Publishing Corporation
          Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
          Parent Company: Liveright Publishing Corporation

          Read a Description of Patsy

          Book Description: 

          From the critically acclaimed and award winning novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn comes a stirring portrait of motherhood, immigration, and the sacrifices we make in the name of love.

          When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, it comes after years of yearning to leave Pennyfield, a beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where there are few opportunities for economic advancement. More than anything, Patsy wishes to be reunited with her oldest friend, Cicely, whose letters arrive from New York full of the promise of a happier life and a possible rekindling of their young love. As hard as it is for her to admit, Patsy’s plans don’t include her overzealous, evangelical mother — or even her five-year-old daughter, Tru, who she is leaving behind in Jamaica.

          Beating with the feverish pulse of a long-held confession, Patsy gives voice to a woman who looks to America not to give a better life to her family back home, but instead for the opportunity to choose herself first. Patsy leaves Tru with a mixture of guilt and relief but in a defiant act of self-preservation, hoping for a new start where she can be, and love whomever she wants. But when Patsy arrives in Brooklyn, she discovers with disappointment that America is not as Cicely’s treasured letters described and, to survive as an undocumented immigrant, she is forced to work a series of unexpected jobs such as bathroom attendant and nanny. Meanwhile, Tru works to build a relationship with her father back in Jamaica, as she grapples with her own questions of identity and sexuality, and tries desperately to understand her mother’s abandonment.

          Expertly evoking the rhythms of Jamaica and the bustling streets of New York, Patsy weaves between the lives of Patsy and Tru in vignettes spanning more than a decade as mother and daughter ultimately find a way back to one another.

          As with her masterful debut Here Comes the Sun, Nicole Dennis-Benn once again charts the geography of a hidden world — that of a paradise lost, swirling with the echoes of lilting Patois, in which one woman fights to discover her sense of self in a world that tries to define her. Passionate, moving, and fiercely urgent, Patsy is a haunting depiction of immigration and womanhood, and the lasting threads of love stretching across years and oceans.

          Nominee - Fiction

          The Revisioners
          by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

          Publication Date: Nov 05, 2019
          List Price: $25.00
          Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
          Classification: Fiction
          ISBN13: 9781640092587
          Imprint: Counterpoint
          Publisher: Counterpoint
          Parent Company: Counterpoint

          Read a Description of The Revisioners

          Book Description: 

          "Few capture the literary world’s attention with their debut like [Sexton] did; her first novel, A Kind of Freedom, was nominated for the National Book Award… Her anticipated follow-up offers a bracing window into Southern life and tensions, alternating between two women’s stories―set nearly 100 years apart." ―Entertainment Weekly

          "Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s writing is graceful and stylish, her truths relevant and necessary―it’s just so exhilarating to read her. I was mesmerized by The Revisioners, an impeccable novel of magic, loss, and family, all anchored by generations of powerful women." ―Jami Attenberg, author of All Grown Up

          In 1924, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Now her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, and an uneasy friendship grows between them. But Charlotte has also sought solace in the Ku Klux Klan, a relationship that jeopardizes Josephine’s family.

          Nearly one hundred years later, Josephine’s descendant, Ava, is a single mother who has just lost her job. She moves in with her white grandmother, Martha, a wealthy but lonely woman who pays Ava to be her companion. But Martha’s behavior soon becomes erratic, then threatening, and Ava must escape before her story and Josephine’s converge.

          The Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships—powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between mothers and their children, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.

          Nominee - Nonfiction

          Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People
          by Ben Crump

          Publication Date: Oct 15, 2019
          List Price: $26.99
          Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
          Classification: Nonfiction
          ISBN13: 9780062375094
          Imprint: Amistad
          Publisher: HarperCollins
          Parent Company: News Corporation

          Read a Description of Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People

          Book Description: 

          The president of the National Bar Association and one of the most distinguished civil rights attorneys working today reflects on the landmark cases he has battled — including representing Trayvon Martin’s family — and offers a disturbing look at how the justice system is used to promote injustice in this memoir and clarion call as shocking and important as the bestsellers Just Mercy and Slavery by Another Name and Ava DuVernay’s film 13th.

          Benjamin Crump firmly believes in the Constitution and its legal protections — that civil rights legislation covers all Americans, not just those privileged by race, wealth, or pedigree. A fierce and passionate advocate, he has devoted his career to fighting for justice for America’s marginalized. Open Season is his inspiring journey working on some of the most egregious cases that have shocked the nation, including those of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

          Shaped by his first-hand experience handling civil litigation matters in state and federal courts throughout the country, Open Season reveals the often hidden and systemic injustices minorities face, and illuminates how discrimination in the courthouse devastates real families and communities. Chronicling some of his most memorable legal battles, this brilliant litigator shockingly makes clear how our system is devised for certain people to lose and others to win, and, using evidence and facts, exposes how it is legal to harm — with the intent to destroy—people of color.

          Crump offers a cogent analysis of legal tenets, including the 13th Amendment, the 1951 Genocide Petition to the United Nations, and controversial Stand Your Ground laws. He compares how race detrimentally influences sentencing, and reveals how police unions protect officers who shoot unarmed civilians. He also makes clear how budget cuts for education, the proliferation of guns, and high unemployment rates all directly contribute to higher crime rates.

          America must live up to its promise to protect the rights of its citizens equally, Crump maintains. Thoughtful, well-reasoned, and powerfully persuasive, Open Season details one man’s life mission preserving the hard-won justice for all.

          Nominee - Nonfiction

          What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays
          by Damon Young

          Publication Date: Mar 26, 2019
          List Price: $27.99
          Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
          Classification: Nonfiction
          ISBN13: 9780062684301
          Imprint: Ecco
          Publisher: HarperCollins
          Parent Company: News Corporation

          Read a Description of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays

          Book Description: 

          A Finalist for the NAACP Image Award

          Longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

          An NPR Best Book of the Year

          A Washington Independent Review of Books Favorite of the Year

          From the cofounder of, and one of the most read writers on race and culture at work today, a provocative and humorous memoir-in-essays that explores the ever-shifting definitions of what it means to be Black (and male) in America

          For Damon Young, existing while Black is an extreme sport. The act of possessing black skin while searching for space to breathe in America is enough to induce a ceaseless state of angst where questions such as "How should I react here, as a professional black person?" and "Will this white person’s potato salad kill me?" are forever relevant.

          What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker chronicles Young’s efforts to survive while battling and making sense of the various neuroses his country has given him.

          It’s a condition that’s sometimes stretched to absurd limits, provoking the angst that made him question if he was any good at the "being straight" thing, as if his sexual orientation was something he could practice and get better at, like a crossover dribble move or knitting; creating the farce where, as a teen, he wished for a white person to call him a racial slur just so he could fight him and have a great story about it; and generating the surreality of watching gentrification transform his Pittsburgh neighborhood from predominantly Black to "Portlandia … but with Pierogies."

          And, at its most devastating, it provides him reason to believe that his mother would be alive today if she were white.

          From one of our most respected cultural observers, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker is a hilarious and honest debut that is both a celebration of the idiosyncrasies and distinctions of Blackness and a critique of white supremacy and how we define masculinity.

          Nominee - Nonfiction

          We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood
          by Dani McClain

          Publication Date: Apr 02, 2019
          List Price: $26.00
          Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
          Classification: Nonfiction
          ISBN13: 9781568588544
          Imprint: Bold Type Books
          Publisher: Hachette Book Group
          Parent Company: Hachette Livre

          Read a Description of We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood

          Book Description: 
          A warm, wise, and urgent guide to parenting in uncertain times, from a longtime reporter on race, reproductive health, and politics

          In We Live for the We, first-time mother Dani McClain sets out to understand how to raise her daughter in what she, as a black woman, knows to be an unjust — even hostile — society. Black women are more likely to die during pregnancy or birth than any other race; black mothers must stand before television cameras telling the world that their slain children were human beings. What, then, is the best way to keep fear at bay and raise a child so she lives with dignity and joy?

          McClain spoke with mothers on the frontlines of movements for social, political, and cultural change who are grappling with the same questions. Following a child’s development from infancy to the teenage years, We Live for the We touches on everything from the importance of creativity to building a mutually supportive community to navigating one’s relationship with power and authority. It is an essential handbook to help us imagine the society we build for the next generation.

          Nominee - Poetry

          Library of Small Catastrophes
          by Alison C. Rollins

            Publication Date: Apr 23, 2019
            List Price: $16.00
            Format: Paperback, 96 pages
            Classification: Poetry
            ISBN13: 9781556595394
            Imprint: Copper Canyon Press
            Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
            Parent Company: Copper Canyon Press

            Read a Description of Library of Small Catastrophes

            Book Description: 

            Alison Rollins, a librarian by trade, disrupts the canon by re-cataloging language, culture, and history in her debut collection.

            "Rollins debut is a book of dissonance, with race and women’s bodies proving two unyielding concerns throughout this four-part work. In poem after poem, Rollins demonstrates that she is finding her own way, shining a light, making darkness apparent." ―Publishers Weekly "The range of Rollins’ poetic skill is remarkable. The result is a collection of poetry which is magnificently crafted, readable, and crucially important." ―New York Journal of Books Library of Small Catastrophes, Alison Rollins’ ambitious debut collection, interrogates the body and nation as storehouses of countless tragedies. Drawing from Jorge Luis Borges’ fascination with the library, Rollins uses the concept of the archive to offer a lyric history of the ways in which we process loss. "Memory is about the future, not the past," she writes, and rather than shying away from the anger, anxiety, and mourning of her narrators, Rollins’ poetry seeks to challenge the status quo, engaging in a diverse, boundary-defying dialogue with an ever-present reminder of the ways race, sexuality, spirituality, violence, and American culture collide.

            Nominee - Poetry

            by Eve L. Ewing

            Publication Date: Jun 04, 2019
            List Price: $36.00
            Format: Hardcover, 96 pages
            Classification: Poetry
            ISBN13: 9781608466023
            Imprint: Haymarket Books
            Publisher: Haymarket Books
            Parent Company: Haymarket Books

            Read a Description of 1919

            Book Description: 

            Poetic reflections on race, class, violence, segregation, and the hidden histories that shape our divided urban landscapes.

            Nominee - Poetry

            Night Angler
            by Geffrey Davis

            Publication Date: Apr 30, 2019
            List Price: $17.00
            Format: Paperback, 112 pages
            Classification: Poetry
            ISBN13: 9781942683780
            Imprint: BOA Editions Ltd.
            Publisher: BOA Editions Ltd.
            Parent Company: BOA Editions Ltd.

            Read a Description of Night Angler

            Book Description: 


            Geffrey Davis’s second collection of poems reads as an evolving love letter and meditation on what it means to raise an American family. In poems that express a deep sense of gratitude and wonder, Davis delivers a heart-strong prayer that longs for home, for safety for Black lives, and for the messy success of breaking through the trauma of growing up during the crack epidemic to create a new model of fatherhood. Filled with humor and tenderness, Night Angler sings its own version of a song called grace—sung with a heavy and hopeful mix of inherited notes and discovered chords.