Sunday, July 08, 2007

Author updates, etc.

Marie-Elena John was nice enough to send a couple of updates about her novel, Unburnable. Her novel is nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award in the Debut Fiction category. Go to the Hurston-Wright site to see all the nominees. There's a cool endorsement of the novel from Chimamanda Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun) posted at the Caribbean Beat blog.

And Marie-Elena John has been smart enough to post an interview she did in San Francisco on youtube.

In the category of good reading and eye candy:

Here's an update from Tananarive Due that was forwarded to the bbb.

"**I couldn't be more excited about the positive feedback on CASANEGRA, the new erotic mystery novel I co-authored with my husband, Steven Barnes, and actor Blair Underwood. If you have read CASANEGRA and enjoyed it, please don't keep it a secret: Please tell your friends, and post reviews on and/or Those reviews make a big difference to potential readers.

**CASANEGRA has been getting amazing attention. In addition to July's Essence Book Club, you may have seen the story with Blair's photo leading the Life section of USA TODAY last Thursday, 6/28. (If you missed it, here's the URL:

**Monday, Blair Steve and I were interviewed on NPR's "News & Notes," with host Farai Chideya. In case you missed it, you can listen to the interview here:
There is also a nice photo of the three of us at the radio station, as well as a book excerpt.

Now, the television blitz begins.

**Monday, July 9, Blair will appear on EXTRA. Local listings vary.

**Sunday, July 15, Blair will appear on the Weekend TODAY show on NBC.

**Monday, July 16, Blair will appear on REGIS & KELLY on NBC.

**Also, Blair is appearing solo at Hue-Man Books in NEW YORK (Harlem), Monday, July 16. If you live nearby, please contact the store for details.

**All three of us will be doing at least one appearance in LOS ANGELES this summer, but the date has not been set. I will update you when I have more information, since joint appearances are rare.

**I will be making a solo appearance in DALLAS in late August, and Steve and I will make a joint appearance in OAKLAND on Sunday, October 28th. I will post more details about those appearances soon. "

I will definitely be setting the DVR for the Blair-watch. I haven't read any reviews of Casanegra yet - so if you have thoughts on it or a link to share, do send it along.

HarperCollins has a readers advisory panel and I signed up for it just over a week ago. My first comp book came in Saturday's mail and I'm already reading it. I think it's a smart way for them to drive some attention to their authors and it definitely put a book in front of me that I might not have seen otherwise. I started reading it last night. The book: Hunger, by Erica Simone Turnipseed. I like it thus far. It helps that there's a woman with a big curly, 'fro on the cover (a different one that the one on HarperCollins' site - so there must have been a switcheroo) and that the protagonist is an academic interested in Haiti and has lovers from Africa and the Caribbean. It really hit a lot of my interest areas, but I wouldn't have gotten that by walking by it at Barnes and Noble.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sunday round-up

I am sneaking in some early morning reading before my crew wakes up... woo hoo!

There's a new biography of Condoleezza Rice out by Marcus Mabry and I read an earlier review of it this week that made me not want to read it. The review today in the NYTimes makes me feel that I need to read it. The book, Twice As Good, is published by Rodale. (The image at left is from the review url and was provided by the Rice family via The Associated Press. Shown are Condoleezza Rice and her mother, Angelena).

I think, as Jonathan Freedland writes in is review, that she is "enigmatic." ANd I know I have conflicted feelings about her because she sits in the Republican camp. If she did not, I would already be a Condi-follower. She would easily be one of our community's most talked about and revered heroines. We'd hold her before all of our children and say, "See, this is who you can aspire to be."

On some of my less partisan days, I think I'm being unfair and short-sighted in not thinking of her as a Black hero. My internal debate around this troubles me - I feel like I'm only proud of Black accomplishments if they're in line with my politics and that feeds into the idea that our community must be a monolith. We are not a monolith and shouldn't have to fit into one mold of beliefs.

(Okay - putting soapbox away.)

An author's career trajectory

Martha Southgate's essay in the NYT Book Review, "Writers Like Me," discusses the challenges of being a literary writer who is African American and writing about African American subjects. She writes about not seeing other writers like her in her writing, book, life circles.

"At the parties and conferences I attend, and in the book reviews I read, I rarely encounter other African-American “literary” writers, particularly in my age bracket. There just don’t seem to be that many of us out there, and that’s something I’ve come to wonder about a great deal."
She writes about how the industry sees or does not see Black literary writers. What I found most interesting and fresh, though, was that she talks about the challenge of African American writers who, due to cultural pressure or economic challenges, don't get to the writing until later in life or at all.

"It’s just plain harder to decide to be a writer if you don’t have a financial cushion or a long cultural tradition of people going out on that bohemian limb."

She quotes Edward P. Jones and Randall Kenan on those issues.

I'd be interested to see a list of who is considered a literary writer among African American authors. Anyone want to kick off the list...?

Other quick links
Speaking of Randall Kenan, the LATimes reviews his collection of essays, The Fire This Time. The review is written by Erin Aubrey Kaplan.

USAToday had a story on the new novel by Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes last week. The novel, Casanegra, is "a new series featuring gigolo-turned-actor-turned-L.A. tough guy ." All three are listed on the cover as authors of the book. In the article, it's reported that Tananarive wrote the first draft, though. Hopefully the celebrity connection will mean big sales for them. But it is kind of odd to market it as by three people.

Stephen L. Carter's new novel, New England White, is out. Here are a couple of reviews: Miami Herald and in the LATimes (reviewed by Paula L. Woods).