Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Award Winning African Heritage Month Reading Suggestions

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association recently celebrated the winners of their 2011 BCALA Literary awards.

Fiction prize:

Glorious: a novel,
by Bernice L. McFadden

"Glorious is set against the backdrops of the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights era. Blending the truth of American history with the fruits of Bernice L. McFadden’s rich imagination, this is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer whose tumultuous path to success, ruin, and revival offers a candid portrait of the American experience in all its beauty and cruelty. Glorious is ultimately an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, ego, betrayal, and, finally, redemption." - Publisher

Debut Novel prize:

Wench: a novel ,
by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

In her debut, Perkins-Valdez eloquently plunges into a dark period of American history, chronicling the lives of four slave women-Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu-who are their masters' mistresses. The women meet when their owners vacation at the same summer resort in Ohio. There, they see free blacks for the first time and hear rumors of abolition, sparking their own desires to be free. For everyone but Lizzie, that is, who believes she is really in love with her master, and he with her. An extended flashback in the middle of the novel delves into Lizzie's life and vividly explores the complicated psychological dynamic between master and slave. Jumping back to the final summer in Ohio, the women all have a decision to make-will they run? Heart-wrenching, intriguing, original and suspenseful, this novel showcases Perkins-Valdez's ability to bring the unfortunate past to life." - Publisher's Weekly

Non-fiction prize:

The Other Wes Moore: one name, two fates
by Wes Moore

"Two hauntingly similar boys take starkly different paths in this searing tale of the ghetto. Moore, an investment banker, Rhodes scholar, and former aide to Condoleezza Rice, was intrigued when he learned that another Wes Moore, his age and from the same area of Greater Baltimore, was wanted for killing a cop. Meeting his double and delving into his life reveals deeper likenesses: raised in fatherless families and poor black neighborhoods, both felt the lure of the money and status to be gained from dealing drugs. That the author resisted the criminal underworld while the other Wes drifted into it is chalked up less to character than to the influence of relatives, mentors, and expectations that pushed against his own delinquent impulses, to the point of exiling him to military school.

Moore writes with subtlety and insight about the plight of ghetto youth, viewing it from inside and out; he probes beneath the pathologies to reveal the pressures-poverty, a lack of prospects, the need to respond to violence with greater violence-that propelled the other Wes to his doom. The result is a moving exploration of roads not taken." - Publisher's Weekly

Non-fiction honorable mention:

In the Place of Justice: a story of punishment and deliverance,
by Wilbert Rideau

"With probing intelligence but only a ninth-grade education, Rideau honed his acclaimed journalism skills inside Louisiana's notorious Angola prison. In 1961, at the age of 19, he killed a white woman in the course of a bank robbery. Sentenced to death, he was eventually given a life sentence after repeated appeals based on irregularities in his trial and national changes in policy regarding the death penalty. Rideau suffered years on death row and in solitary; once integrated into the broader population, he worked his way onto The Angolite, the prison publication.

Eventually becoming editor, he earned the respect of the warden, prisoners, guards, as well as the broader journalism profession, with exposés of the politics and economics of the prison system, earning several prestigious press awards along the way. He struggled with journalistic principles in a highly charged environment in which all sides were hyperpartisan and often violent. After 44 years and scores of appeals lost to political machinations, Rideau was finally freed in 2005. This is more than a prison memoir; it is a searing indictment of the American justice system." - Booklist

No comments:

Post a Comment