Monday, February 16, 2009

Eight Award Winning Black Authors you should know about

It’s hard to pick just eight writers for this post - but I’ve given it a try. A mix of well established and more recent authors whose works have been awarded prizes in the last few years.

Toni Morrison - Okay, the first author is a bit of a gimme, because I’m pretty sure you’ve already heard of Toni Morrison. She’s the author of 9 novels (4 of which have been included in Oprah’s Book Club), the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, the first African American Nobel Laureate for Literature, and even been nominated for a couple of Grammy Awards. She writes intense, poetic fiction, often focusing on female characters and their struggles related to racism, poverty and gender-inequality. She generally voices her own audiobooks, which make for an interesting way to experience (or re-experience) her works.

Zadie Smith - she burst on the literary scene in 2000 with her first novel White Teeth, which won numerous awards including the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize. The novel is set in modern day England and gives an insightful and humourous look into its evolution into a modern multi-ethnic nation. She is the author of two other novels.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Adichie is a Nigerian author of two award winning novels, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, both set in Nigeria. Her books bring to life the history and people of Nigeria, with a writing style that appeals to the five senses. In 2008, Adichie was the recipient of recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, aka the Genius Grant.

George Elliott Clarke - The Nova Scotian author is an award winner for poetry (Execution Poems - Governor General’s Award) and Fiction (George and Rue - Dartmouth Book Award), the first recipient of the Portia White Prize from the Nova Scotia Arts Council and is a member of the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada. His writing, frequently set in Nova Scotia and examining the history of African Nova Scotians, is marked by the creativity and rhythm of his language. Clarke has a new book coming out this spring called I & I. (edit - sorry, Clarke's book is actually already available in stores - published in January. The library is still awaiting copies.)

Stephen L. Carter - American writer Carter is the author of three books, and relatively new to the fiction scene. A law professor at Yale, his first novel the Emperor of Ocean Park was published in 2002 and was the winner of the The Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, which “recognizes ... books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human culture.” His novels are generally tales of suspense - murder, secrets, political manipulation - set in the world of the wealthy and powerful.

Edward P. Jones - American novelist whose second book The Known World, a fictional look at slave ownership in pre-Civil War America, won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the Dublin IMPAC award. And this wasn’t even Jones’ first brush with prizewinning! His first book, Lost in the City, won the Pen/Hemingway Award and Jones himself was also the winner of the MacArthur Fellowship.

Octavia Butler - Not only was Butler another winner of the MacArthur Fellowship (that’s three in one post!), she was also the winner of Hugo and Nebula awards for her celebrated Science Fiction writing. Butler is described as a writer who used the speculative framework of Science Fiction to comment on real world issues of race, class, and other social issues.

Austin Clarke - In 2002, Clarke’s The Polished Hoe won the Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and brought a new level of popular attention to a Canadian author who had been steadily publishing since the 1980s. Born in Barbados and moving to Canada in the 1950s, Clarke’s fiction frequently focuses on the immigrant experience in Canada. He’s also the author of a tasty sounding book called Love and Sweet Food: a Culinary Memoir.

1 comment:

  1. I highly recommend the novel George and Rue, by George Elliott Clarke.

    Although it is a very sad story, it is so well written and draws the reader deep into the world of the characters.

    I found it interesting that although the story is set only 50 years ago, and only 50 km from here (Halifax), it seemed like a completely different world. It is amazing how much things have changed in fifty years.