Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Loads of love

I'm reading Black Water Rising by Attica Locke. (It's good y'all!) The opening scene includes the protagonist Jay remembering the black church ladies that came to court daily when he was on trial for being a young revolutionary. He remembers them looking at him like "We got you, son. We're not gon' let you fall."

It reminds me of the way black readers often are with black authors. One of the great joys of being a writer is having readers who prop you up when you feel like you're falling. I know we authors yell a lot over here about attracting other readers, but let me say for the record, we love, love, love us some black readers! And wouldn't make it at all without you!

I recently was blessed enough to receive an award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. The way those black librarians talked about books and writers! Oh my, it was balm for the soul! My brother-in-law attended and he said "the waves of love crashing over the podium" spilled out into the audience over to him and left him feeling warm inside.

So I offer a heartfelt thanks to all the readers who don't let us fall. And here are some links about some other authors that we (no matter our race) can share some love with:

E. Lynn Harris, who recently passed, gets a tribute from other writers at The Root.

Karen Simpson, friend o' the blog, recently announced the sale of her first novel! Read her story of deciding to go with Plenary Publishing after many rejections from mainstream (read mostly white editors/publishers) because they felt that black readers only wanted urban or romance and white readers won't read black authors. Oy. Act of Grace (speculative fiction) will be published in spring 2011 and we will definitely host a chat with Karen and/or review to celebrate!

Victor LaValle's 3rd novel Big Machine, to be released August 11, could be his big breakout. This Wall Street Journal article about the support he's getting is exciting. Here's a link to an excerpt from the book.

Yellow Moon Jewell Parker Rhodes' African vampire story comes out in paperback next month.

Cornered, Brandon Massey's latest thriller hits also stores next month.

Eisa Ulen lovingly reviews Paule Marshall's memoir of the writer's life, Triangular Road.

The Bottom of Heaven gives some geek love to Samuel R. Delaney's fantasy Nevèrÿon series.

Publishers Weekly showers the upcoming The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow with some pre-pub love.

Color Online is looking for love for authors of color. They're looking for reviewers for August who will read brown.

USA Today ran an interesting profile of author Stephen Carter, who is able to do something pretty amazing in his latest, Jericho's Fall: not identify the protagonist's race. I'm not sure less successful authors could pull this off. Publishers and marketers usually want to know the characters' race so they know how to position the book. So I'm willing to give Carter some love for breaking out of that box.

Speaking of publishers identifying race, by now you've probably heard of the YA book Liar with the black protagonist and the white author that has a photo of a white girl on the cover. But in case you haven't, I'll include a few links. First though my question: Does this mean the publisher believes that white readers will read a book by a white author about non-white characters, but only if a white person is on the cover? From the author of the book. Publisher's Weekly. Young, Black, A Reader responds. Another blogger asks white readers to respond to the publisher. I would suggest lovingly telling them that they're full of shit.

Now some love for a bookseller, a white bookseller who takes up the "White Readers Meet Black Authors" cause. The Inkwell Bookstore blog challenges readers to step outside their comfort zone: "I see this a lot at our bookstore. More often than not, White customers buy books by White authors. While this in no way makes them racist, their unwillingness to explore something outside their comfort zone does make them dull. What makes these FUBU buying habits even more frustrating is the fact that the majority of these White readers consider themselves to be highly liberal thinkers. They listen to world music, they donate money to Darfur, and they campaigned en masse to make Barack Obama the President of the United States. Still, I dare you to try and push Chester Himes' If He Hollers Let Him Go on a fan of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays."


Color Online said...


Tell me how you really feel. lol Thanks for linking to our challenge. Ari rocks. And her blog has a new name, Reading In Color.


Bryan R. Adams said...

Even if Stephen Carter (I'm a fan) doesn't identify the race of his main character, I think most will assume that the story is "black." I do look forward to digging into that book.

Lafreya said...

Bless your heart Carleen. Thank you so much for the shout out.

Pamala Knight said...

Hi Carleen! I've been lurking around these parts for a while now but finally decided to slink out of my pew and come on up when they announced that the doors of the church were open ;-).

Thanks for the updates and all the new reading material. I also appreciate the way you uplift the credo that 'knowledge is power.' If I'm lucky enough to ever be published, I'll know what to expect.

Heidi W. Durrow said...

Thanks for the LOVE for The Girl Who Fell From the Sky! This just in: galleys are ready! Hope to have a copy in hand by early next week! :)

Bernice L. McFadden said...

Love this! .

Doret said...

I thought Black Water Rising was great. I am having an easy time hand selling it to mystery fans, the James Ellroy blurb helps a lot.

Congrats on your reward.

Eisa said...

Thanks so much for mentioning my review of Paule Marshall's book, Carleen.