Monday, June 27, 2005

McMillan's Down Low Experience

Down Low Kills Stella's Groove
Terry McMillan's bestselling book and the movie based on it, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, were based on her own experiences with a much younger lover. The movie was a big hit and I'm sure sparked many a fantasy about island rendez-vous. Well, in real life it seems McMillan's lover was on the down low. He has admitted he's gay and is seeking support from her. It's all coming out in the divorce proceedings and the news media. Stories appeared today in the SFChronicle and Chicago Tribune.

With all the recent attention to the "down low," a novel by McMillan on the trials of a woman caught up in the lies would be a big seller. And not a bad way to get even.

Is Waiting to Exhale Chick Lit?
Well, the NYTimes seems to think it is, or at least a precursor to chick lit. Felicia R. Lee's story in the NYT looks at how pioneering authors Terry McMillan, Connie Briscoe and Benilde Little are writing stories about more mature women these days. Interesting to see the three of them put together in this story. Other authors, like Pearl Cleage, are named as well.
Here are their upcoming or recent titles:
Connie Briscoe, Can't Get Enough
Terry McMillan, The Interruption of Everything
Benilde Little, Who Does She Think She Is?

Mississippi Freedom Fiction
Denise Nicholas, the actress from In The Heat of the Night (the TV series, not the movie), has a novel due out in August. The book, Freshwater Road, is mentioned in DeWayne Wickham's column in USA Today and recounts the tale of a young woman working in Mississippi during the 1960s civil rights movement. Interesting timing for her, considering the developments in the murder cases in Mississippi this summer.

80 Year Old Book Club
The Des Moines Register has a feature on an 80-year-old women's book club that started as an all black YWCA group and is now integrated. I've been a participant in only one regular book club, all African American, and have always wondered what it would be like to read with an integrated group - outside of academic settings, that is. It was nice to see that this group has been going strong for so long.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Penguin flap

Stumbled on an old, in web terms at least, story in the Guardian about Penguin's 70th anniversary list of titles. There's a little controversy because the publisher had very few authors of color on the list celebrating the company's history. In particular, James Baldwin and Chinua Achebe are not included.

Part of the Penguin executive's explanation is that because those authors haven't sold very well, they weren't included, or even considered.

Is this corporate snub even worth acknowledging? How much does it matter if Baldwin or Achebe are on this list? In one sense it is probably more true to the impact their writing had for them to be excluded from the list - who wants to be on the man's list, anyway?. And their kind of outsider status helps explain why the sales aren't in the same league as a contemporary, less political novelist. And were authors like Baldwin and Achebe on the list, would their titles get the kind of boost as the other books?

It would have been nice to see if they garnered more sales. I'd love to hear thoughts on this - post away.

Karibu in B'more
Karibu Books is opening a store in Baltimore - and the Sun has a feature on the store and new location.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Snubbing the Queen and other notes

Winning a prize is one thing, but for Caryl Phillips and Mark Haddon, bowing to a queen is quite another and they want no parts of it. Both authors won the Commonwealth Prize and neither accepted the invitation, which comes with the prize, to an audience with the queen. It wasn't just scheduling conflicts, either. Both authors say they don't believe in the monarchy and the problems with the idea of monarchy are similar to those they explore in their work. Thanks to places for writers for the link to the Guardian article about their refusal to meet with the queen. Here's a quote from the article from Phillips:

I'm trying to interrogate British history and mythologies and duplicities, and one of the enduring myths is the royal family, which is white and Christian and 'pure-blooded', and on which the sun never sets.
Phillips won the 2004 Commonwealth prize for his novel, A Distant Shore. Haddon won for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Authors Elsewhere

Bebe Moore Campbell (72 Hour Hold) and Terry McMillan (The Interruption of Everything) are both featured in the July issue of Essence with excerpts from their new novels. Also in the books section of the July issue: former Vibe editor-in-chief Danyel Smith talking about her new novel, Bliss and the following beach read recommendations: Kingston By Starlight by Christopher John Farley, The Icarus Girl, by Helen Oyeyemi and Tropical Fish, by Doreen Baingana.

BBB loves seeing the diaspora represented so well in corporate publication. Perhaps all is not lost with Essence.

By the way, the link above for Danyel Smith actually leads to her blog. We'll be bookmarking that one. Incredibly, BBB couldn't find an official site for Terry McMillan. You'd think she'd have a very good site - or at least something. The url of her name leads to a site that's supposedly a coming attraction. Very odd - I would think she and her publisher would be all over that marketing opportunity.

Tayari Jones has a very good essay up at her site about marketing. She talks about her experiences being promoted as a Southern writer and then, with the current book, The Untelling, as a Black writer.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Merged Publication, An Award, and Whatnots

Lit Pubs Merge
Black Issues Book Review and QBR, the two publications that focus exclusively on the work of Black authors, announced that they will merge. It'll be interesting to see what changes or additions to coverage show up in BIBR, which will be the editorial arm of the company.

A Prize
British writer Diana Evans was named winner of the inaugural Orange Prize for New Writers with her debut novel 26a. See the write up in the Scotsman. The Orange Prize is given by a British group to women fiction writers annually. Read an interview with Evans here.

Literary Ball
Check out the details for the Rawsistaz Affair, an event celebrating the reading group and authors, this fall in Atlanta.