Trayvon Martin’s parents take readers beyond the news cycle with an account only they could give: the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement.
On a February evening in 2012, in a small town in central Florida, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home with candy and a can of juice in hand and talking on the phone with a friend when a fatal encounter with a gun-wielding neighborhood watchman ended his young life. The watchman was briefly detained by the police and released. Trayvon’s father—a truck driver named Tracy—tried to get answers from the police but was shut down and ignored. Trayvon’s mother, a civil servant for the city of Miami, was paralyzed by the news of her son’s death and lost in mourning, unable to leave her room for days. But in a matter of weeks, their son’s name would be spoken by President Obama, honored by professional athletes, and passionately discussed all over traditional and social media. And at the head of a growing nationwide campaign for justice were Trayvon’s parents, who—driven by their intense love for their lost son—discovered their voices, gathered allies, and launched a movement that would change the country.
Five years after his tragic death, Travyon Martin’s name is still evoked every day. He has become a symbol of social justice activism, as has his hauntingly familiar image: the photo of a child still in the process of becoming a young man, wearing a hoodie and gazing silently at the camera. But who was Trayvon Martin, before he became, in death, an icon? And how did one black child’s death on a dark, rainy street in a small Florida town become the match that lit a civil rights crusade?
Rest in Power, told through the compelling alternating narratives of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, answers, for the first time, those questions from the most intimate of sources. It’s the story of the beautiful and complex child they lost, the cruel unresponsiveness of the police and the hostility of the legal system, and the inspiring journey they took from grief and pain to power, and from tragedy and senselessness to meaning.
In the spirit of Piri Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, this powerful memoir by writer and activist Kevin Powell vividly recounts the horrific poverty of his youth, his struggles to overcome a legacy of anger, violence, and self-hatred, and his journey to be a man and a voice for others.
Driven by his single mother’s dreams for his survival and success, Kevin Powell became the first in his family to attend a university, where he became a student leader keenly aware of widespread social injustice. But the struggle to define himself and break out of poverty continued into adulthood, with traumatic periods of homelessness and despair. As a young star journalist with Vibe magazine, Powell interviewed luminaries such as Tupac Shakur, writing influential chronicles of the evolution of hip-hop from his eyewitness view. Now, with searing honesty, Powell examines his troubled relationships, his appearance on MTV’s first season of The Real World, his battles with alcohol and depression, his two campaigns for Congress, and the uplifting trip to Africa that renewed his sense of personal mission. Finally, Powell embarks on a search for the father he never really knew in a redemptive passage from abandonment to self-discovery.
A striking memoir by a child of post-Civil Rights America, The Education of Kevin Powell gives eloquent testimony to the power of the soul to heal.
In this poignant, hilarious, and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder reveals how saying YES changed her life — and how it can change yours too.
She’s the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder. Her iconic characters — Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating — live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes, the mega talent who owns Thursday night television (#TGIT), is an introvert? That she hired a publicist so she could avoid public appearances? That she hugged walls at splashy parties and suffered panic attacks before media interviews so severe she remembered nothing afterward?
Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where Shonda Rhimes could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen. In the before, Shonda’s introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food.
And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.
The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.
This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes — from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her (like Cristina Yang, whose ultimate goal wasn’t marriage, and Cyrus Beene, who is a Republican and gay). And it chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun — when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes.
This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character. And how you can, too.
Essence Magazine’s book features for February 2015, selected for Black History Month — featuring Ethel Payne, Rosa Parks, Wes Moore, Sonia Sanchez, Malcolm X:
Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press
by James McGrath Morris
February 17, 2015
Acclaimed biographer James McGrath Morris brings into focus the riveting life of one of the most significant yet least known figures of the civil rights era — pioneering journalist Ethel Payne, the “First Lady of the Black Press” — elevating her to her rightful place in history at last.
For decades, Ethel Lois Payne has been hidden in the shadows of history. Now, James McGrath Morris skillfully illuminates this ambitious, influential, and groundbreaking woman’s life, from her childhood growing up in South Chicago to her career as a journalist and network news commentator, reporting on some of the most crucial events in modern American history.
Morris draws on a rich and untapped collection of Payne’s personal papers documenting her private and professional affairs. He combed through oral histories, FBI documents, and newspapers to fully capture Payne’s life, her achievements, and her legacy. He introduces us to a journalist who covered such events as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Little Rock school desegregation crisis, the service of black troops in Vietnam, and Henry Kissinger’s 26,000-mile tour of Africa.
A self-proclaimed “instrument of change” for her people, Payne broke new ground as the Washington correspondent for the Chicago Defender. She publicly prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to support desegregation, and her reporting on legislative and judicial civil rights battles enlightened and activated black readers across the nation. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson recognized Payne’s seminal role by presenting her with a pen used in signing the Civil Rights Act. In 1972, she became the first female African American radio and television commentator on a national network, working for CBS. Her story mirrors the evolution of our own modern society.
Inspiring and instructive, moving and comprehensive, Eye on the Struggle illuminates this extraordinary woman and her achievements, and reminds us of the power one person has to transform our lives and our world.
With 16 pages of black-and-white photos.
The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America by Lani Guinier
Beacon Press, January 13, 2015, Hardcover
Standing on the foundations of America’s promise of equal opportunity, our universities purport to serve as engines of social mobility and practitioners of democracy. But as acclaimed scholar and pioneering civil rights advocate Lani Guinier argues, the merit systems that dictate the admissions practices of these institutions are functioning to select and privilege elite individuals rather than create learning communities geared to advance democratic societies. Having studied and taught at schools such as Harvard University, Yale Law School, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Guinier has spent years examining the experiences of ethnic minorities and of women at the nation’s top institutions of higher education, and here she lays bare the practices that impede the stated missions of these schools.
Goaded on by a contemporary culture that establishes value through ranking and sorting, universities assess applicants using the vocabulary of private, highly individualized merit. As a result of private merit standards and ever-increasing tuitions, our colleges and universities increasingly are failing in their mission to provide educational opportunity and to prepare students for productive and engaged citizenship.
To reclaim higher education as a cornerstone of democracy, Guinier argues that institutions of higher learning must focus on admitting and educating a class of students who will be critical thinkers, active citizens, and publicly spirited leaders. Guinier presents a plan for considering “democratic merit,” a system that measures the success of higher education not by the personal qualities of the students who enter but by the work and service performed by the graduates who leave.
Jam on the Vine: A Novel by LaShonda Barnett
Grove Press, February 3, 2015, Hardcover
Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, first ignites her lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer. Living in the poor, segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in printed matter as an escape from her dour surroundings. She earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson College in Austin, only to return over-qualified to the menial labor offered by her hometown’s racially-biased employers.
Ivoe eventually flees the Jim Crow South with her family and settles in Kansas City, where she and her former teacher and lover, Ona, found the first female-run African American newspaper, Jam! On the Vine. In the throes of the Red Summer — the 1919 outbreak of lynchings and race riots across the Midwest — Ivoe risks her freedom, and her life, to call attention to the atrocities of segregation in the American prison system.
This House Is Not for Sale: A Novel by E.C. Osondu
Harper, February 3, 2015, Hardcover
A powerful tale of family and community, This House Is Not for Sale brings to life an African neighborhood and one remarkable house, seen through the eyes of a young member of the household. The house lies in a town seemingly lost in time, full of colorful, larger-than-life characters; at the narrative’s heart are Grandpa, the family patriarch whose occasional cruelty is balanced by his willingness to open his doors to those in need, and the house itself, which becomes a character in its own right and takes on the scale of legend.
From the decades-long rivalry between owners of two competing convenience stores to the man who convinces his neighbors to give up their earthly possessions to prepare for the end of the world, Osondu’s story captures a place beyond the reach of the outside world, full of superstitions and myths that sustain its people.
The Work: My Search for a Life That Matters Wes Moore
Spiegel & Grau, January 13, 2015, Hardcover
The acclaimed author of The Other Wes Moore continues his inspirational quest for a meaningful life and shares the powerful lessons — about self-discovery, service, and risk-taking — that led him to a new definition of success for our times.
The Work is the story of how one young man traced a path through the world to find his life’s purpose. Wes Moore graduated from a difficult childhood in the Bronx and Baltimore to an adult life that would find him at some of the most critical moments in our recent history: as a combat officer in Afghanistan; a White House fellow in a time of wars abroad and disasters at home; and a Wall Street banker during the financial crisis. In this insightful book, Moore shares the lessons he learned from people he met along the way — from the brave Afghan translator who taught him to find his fight, to the resilient young students in Katrina-ravaged Mississippi who showed him the true meaning of grit, to his late grandfather, who taught him to find grace in service.
Moore also tells the stories of other twenty-first-century change-makers who’ve inspired him in his search, from Daniel Lubetzky, the founder of KIND, to Esther Benjamin, a Sri Lankan immigrant who rose to help lead the Peace Corps. What their lives — and his own misadventures and moments of illumination — reveal is that our truest work happens when we serve others, at the intersection between our gifts and our broken world. That’s where we find the work that lasts.
Our Auntie Rosa: The Family of Rosa Parks Remembers Her Life and Lessons by Sheila McCauley Keys
Tarcher, January 22, 2015, Hardcover
A warrior in the fight for freedom, justice, and equality, Rosa Parks had the vision for a better world. She demonstrated that one person’s actions can indeed make a difference. What many don’t know is the person behind the persona. “Auntie Rosa,” as she was called by the many nieces and nephews she helped raise, extended her love and encouragement to her closest kin. She was a guiding force and inspiration in their lives, and in this remarkable book they share with readers the great wisdom Auntie Rosa imparted to them.
In Our Auntie Rosa the family of Rosa Parks presents a collection of personal remembrances, reflections, and never-before-seen photos and letters that pay tribute to Rosa Parks’s incredible strength and determination. Parks’s brave act on a bus in Alabama on December 1, 1955, was just one moment in a life lived with great humility and decency. Our Auntie Rosa is a life’s instruction manual from one of the most famous figures in American history that will inspire generations to come.
SOS – Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader edited by by John H. Bracey Jr., Sonia Sanchez, James Smethurst
Univ. of Massachusetts Press, February 28, 2014, Paperback
This volume brings together a broad range of key writings from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, among the most significant cultural movements in American history. The aesthetic counterpart of the Black Power movement, it burst onto the scene in the form of artists circles, writers workshops, drama groups, dance troupes, new publishing ventures, bookstores, and cultural centers and had a presence in practically every community and college campus with an appreciable African American population. Black Arts activists extended its reach even further through magazines such as Ebony and Jet, on television shows such as Soul! and Like It Is, and on radio programs.
Many of the movement s leading artists, including Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, Nikki Giovanni, Woodie King, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Tour, and Val Gray Ward remain artistically productive today. Its influence can also be seen in the work of later artists, from the writers Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, and August Wilson to actors Avery Brooks, Danny Glover, and Samuel L. Jackson, to hip hop artists Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Chuck D.
S.O.S Calling All Black People includes works of fiction, poetry, and drama in addition to critical writings on issues of politics, aesthetics, and gender. It covers topics ranging from the legacy of Malcolm X and the impact of John Coltrane s jazz to the tenets of the Black Panther Party and the music of Motown. The editors have provided a substantial introduction outlining the nature, history, and legacy of the Black Arts Movement as well as the principles by which the anthology was assembled.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery
Dial, January 8, 2015, Hardcover
A memoir of the Civil Rights Movement from one of its youngest heroes
As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Albama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans. In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.
Straightforward and inspiring, this beautifully illustrated memoir brings readers into the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, complementing Common Core classroom learning and bringing history alive for young readers.
Amistad, November 11, 2014, Hardcover
From the director of the NAACP Award–nominated documentary comes this gorgeous companion book to celebrate dark-skinned women.
Black has never been more beautiful. Dark Girls is a testament to the strength and grace of women everywhere, no matter their skin tone, upbringing, or education. Featuring such celebrities as Lupita Nyong’o, Vanessa Williams, Sheryl Underwood, Judge Mablean, and Loretta Devine, Dark Girls presents outstanding women from all walks of life, sharing intimate insights into what their dark skin means to them.
Combining Barron Claiborne’s brilliant photography, Shelia Moses’s touching narrative, and Bill Duke’s extraordinary vision, Dark Girls is a beautiful and empowering work to be treasured by women of all ages. This thoughtful, sophisticated, and uplifting collection captures the elegance of dark skin—joyfully showcasing that we truly are beautiful for who we are.
X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
Candlewick, January 6, 2015, Hardcover
Co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.
Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever.
X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.
Essence Magazine’s book features for October 2014, highlighting “five fierce & fearless new books” — featuring George Clinton, Dr. Cornel West, Bridgett M. Davis, Eartha Kitt, and Rachel Renee Russell:
Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You?: A Memoir
by George Clinton and Ben Greenman
October 21, 2014
The long-awaited memoir from one of the greatest bandleaders, hit makers, and most influential pop artists of our time — known for over forty R&B hit singles — George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic.
George Clinton began his musical career in New Jersey, where his obsession with doo-wop and R&B led to a barbershop quartet — literally, as Clinton and his friends also styled hair in the local shop — the way kids often got their musical start in the 50s. But how many kids like that ended up playing to tens of thousands of rabid fans alongside a diaper-clad guitarist? How many of them commissioned a spaceship and landed it onstage during concerts? How many put their stamp on four decades of pop music, from the mind-expanding sixties to the hip-hop-dominated nineties and beyond?
One of them. That’s how many.
How George Clinton got from barbershop quartet to funk music megastar is a story for the ages. As a high school student he traveled to New York City, where he absorbed all the trends in pop music, from traditional rhythm and blues to Motown, the Beatles, the Stones, and psychedelic rock, not to mention the formative funk of James Brown and Sly Stone. By the dawn of the seventies, he had emerged as the leader of a wildly creative musical movement composed mainly of two bands — Parliament and Funkadelic. And by the bicentennial, Clinton and his P-Funk empire were dominating the soul charts as well as the pop charts. He was an artistic visionary, visual icon, merry prankster, absurdist philosopher, and savvy businessmen, all rolled into one. He was like no one else in pop music, before or since.
Written with wit, humor, and candor, this memoir provides tremendous insight into America’s music industry as forever changed by Clinton’s massive talent. This is a story of a beloved global icon who dedicated himself to spreading the gospel of funk music.
Black Prophetic Fire by Cornel West and Christa Buschendorf
Beacon Press, October 7, 2014, Hardcover
An unflinching look at nineteenth- and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.
In an accessible, conversational format, Cornel West, with distinguished scholar Christa Buschendorf, provides a fresh perspective on six revolutionary African American leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells. In dialogue with Buschendorf, West examines the impact of these men and women on their own eras and across the decades. He not only rediscovers the integrity and commitment within these passionate advocates but also their fault lines.
West, in these illuminating conversations with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf, describes Douglass as a complex man who is both “the towering Black freedom fighter of the nineteenth century” and a product of his time who lost sight of the fight for civil rights after the emancipation. He calls Du Bois “undeniably the most important Black intellectual of the twentieth century” and explores the more radical aspects of his thinking in order to understand his uncompromising critique of the United States, which has been omitted from the American collective memory. West argues that our selective memory has sanitized and even “Santaclausified” Martin Luther King Jr., rendering him less radical, and has marginalized Ella Baker, who embodies the grassroots organizing of the civil rights movement. The controversial Malcolm X, who is often seen as a proponent of reverse racism, hatred, and violence, has been demonized in a false opposition with King, while the appeal of his rhetoric and sincerity to students has been sidelined. Ida B. Wells, West argues, shares Malcolm X’s radical spirit and fearless speech, but has “often become the victim of public amnesia.”
By providing new insights that humanize all of these well-known figures, in the engrossing dialogue with Buschendorf, and in his insightful introduction and powerful closing essay, Cornel West takes an important step in rekindling the Black prophetic fire so essential in the age of Obama.
Into the Go-Slow by Bridgett M. Davis
The Feminist Press at CUNY, September 9, 2014, Paperback
It’s 1986 and twenty-one-year-old Angie continues to mourn the death of her brilliant and radical sister Ella. On impulse, she travels from Detroit to the place where Ella tragically died four years before — Nigeria. She retraces her sister’s steps, all the while navigating the chaotic landscape of a major African country on the brink of democracy careening toward a coup d’tat.
At the center of this quest is a love affair that upends everything Angie thought she knew about herself. Against a backdrop of Nigeria’s infamous go-slow — traffic as wild and surprising as a Fela lyric — Angie begins to unravel the mysteries of the past, and opens herself up to love and life after Ella.
Bridgett M. Davis’s debut novel Shifting Through Neutral (Amistad, 2004) was a Borders Books “Original Voices” selection and a finalist for the 2005 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright LEGACY Award. Davis was selected as the New Author of the Year by Go On Girl! Book Club — the largest national reading group for African American women. She currently writes for O, The Oprah Magazine and other publications.
America’s Mistress: The Life and Times of Miss Eartha Kitt
by John L. Williams
Quercus, October 7, 2014, Hardcover
Strait-laced, pre-civil rights America wasn’t ready for Eartha Kitt. Waiting for others to be ready was never her style. in America’s Mistress John L. Williams captures the person behind the myth in this engaging biography but also race relations in Twentieth-century America.
From humble roots on a South Carolina cotton plantation, the multilingual, possibly multi-racial chanteuse emerged seemingly from nowhere to seduce the nation and redefine cosmopolitan glamour. Blending intellect, self-awareness and unprecedented sex appeal, she was a Technicolor presence in a black-and-white world.
But the key to her allure was always her mystery, and her three not-entirely-consistent autobiographies raise more questions than they answer about who she really was–whether singing, dancing, acting or drawing headlines for her romantic dalliances and political activism.
Drawing on extensive original research and interviews with the people who knew her best, Williams–whose previous biographical subjects include Shirley Bassey and English civil rights activist Michael X–delivers a comprehensive, compassionate and thought-provoking record of a life that defied stereotypes, shattered boundaries, yet seemed to fall short of its potential in the end.
Beginning with Eartha’s tumultuous childhood, Williams makes a bold claim about the identity of her true father–a question that has never been answered. From there Williams traces her escape to Harlem, where she came into contact with leading black entertainers and found quick success as a company dancer-which, in turn, enabled her to travel the world and segue into film, television and music stardom.
Williams details her time at the top of the entertainment business–when Orson Welles famously called her “the most exciting woman in the world”–with candor and striking revelations. America’s Mistress focuses on how, as Eartha’s social consciousness developed, she found herself awkwardly torn between the realities of Jim Crow oppression and her lucrative role as white America’s ultimate sex kitten.
Whether or not her decline began with her 1968 infamous public confrontation with Lady Bird Johnson (that left the First Lady in tears), the later decades of Eartha’s life were marked by America’s growing indifference to the woman who once captured its attention like no one before or since.
But America’s Mistress is ultimately a celebration of a remarkable American life that paved the way for black entertainers from Belafonte to Beyonce. With objectivity and thoroughness, John L. Williams provides sought-after answers to tantalizing and elusive questions.
Dork Diaries 7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star by Rachel Renee Russell
Aladdin, June 3, 2014, Hardcover
Everyone’s been rooting for Nikki Maxwell and her crush, Brandon and fans will finally learn if they had their first kiss in this seventh book of the New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series!
Nikki’s juggling a lot this month. A reality TV crew is following Nikki and her friends as they record their hit song together, plus there are voice lessons, dance practice, and little sister Brianna’s latest wacky hijinks. Nikki’s sure she can handle everything, but will all the excitement cause new problems for Nikki and Brandon, now that cameras are everywhere Nikki goes?
The Dork Diaries series has more than 13 million copies in print worldwide!
Child, Please: How I Learned That When It Comes to Raising Kids, My Mother Had It Right All Along by Ylonda Gault Caviness
Tarcher, April 14, 2015, Hardcover
In this wise and funny memoir, Ylonda Gault Caviness describes her journey to the realization that all the parenting advice she was obsessively devouring as a new parent (and sharing with the world as a parenting expert on NPR, Today, in The Huffington Post, and elsewhere) didn’t mean scratch compared to her mama’s old school wisdom as a strong black woman and mother.
With child number one, Caviness set her course: to give her children everything she had. Child number two came along and she patiently persisted. But when her third kid arrived, she was finally so exhausted that she decided to listen to what her mother had been saying to her for years: Give them everything they want, and there’ll be nothing left of you. In Child, Please, Caviness describes the road back to embracing a more sane — not to mention loving — way of raising children. Her mother had it right all along.
Ebony Magazine’s book selections for August 2014, featuring their “Great Book Club Finds” (Angela Burt-Murray’s “Games Divas Play,” Dwayne Alexander Smith’s “Forty Acres,” and Wayne Pharr’s “Nine Lives of a Black Panther: A Story of Survival,” Zane’s “The Other Side of the Pillow”):
Games Divas Play (A Diva Mystery Novel)
by Angela Burt-Murray
Thomas & Mercer
July 29, 2014
An ambitious entertainment reporter, millionaire basketball player, desperate wife, scandalous groupie, and murderous stalker. Games Divas Play takes you inside the high-stakes world of professional sports, where everyone plays to win.
When Nia Bullock lands a job as editor-in-chief of the hot new magazine and web site DivaDish, she finds that her platinum dreams can quickly turn into a nightmare. Battling backstabbing colleagues and reeling from murderous threats, she must turn to an ex-boyfriend for help.
Vanessa King, the first lady of the NBA, is looking for a fresh start with her husband, Marcus, the new star point guard for the New York Gladiators who’s as popular with the ladies as he is with hoops fans. Since marrying her college sweetheart, Vanessa has learned to deal with life with a professional athlete — the groupies, the paparazzi, and the unchecked ego of a man the sports world puts on a pedestal.
When Laila James, self-proclaimed “Golden Goddess,” sets her sights on Marcus and shops a reality show based on their affair — and then a dangerous stalker threatens his family — Vanessa turns to her best friend Nia to save her marriage and her life.
In the first book in the Diva Mystery series, three women engage in a ruthless battle for love and the limelight, and soon learn what it really takes to stay on top.
Forty Acres: A Thriller
Dwayne Alexander Smith
July 1, 2014
What if overcoming the legacy of American slavery meant bringing back that very institution? A young black attorney is thrown headlong into controversial issues of race and power in this page-turning and provocative new novel.
Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’e accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all — no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions.
Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery — but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.
A novel of rage and compassion, good and evil, trust and betrayal, Forty Acres is the thought-provoking story of one man’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of a terrifying new moral order.
Nine Lives of a Black Panther: A Story of Survival
by Wayne Pharr
Chicago Review Press
July 1, 2014
In the early morning hours of December 8, 1969, three hundred officers of the newly created elite paramilitary tactical unit known as SWAT initiated a violent battle with a handful of Los Angeles-based members of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). Five hours and five thousand rounds of ammunition later, three SWAT team members and three Black Panthers lay wounded. From a tactical standpoint, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) considered the encounter a disaster. For the Panthers and the community that supported them, the shootout symbolized a victory. A key contributor to that victory was the nineteen-year-old rank-and-file member of the BPP Wayne Pharr.
Nine Lives of a Black Panther tells Wayne’s riveting story of the Los Angeles branch of the BPP and gives a blow-by-blow account of how it prepared for and survived the massive military-style attack. Because of his dedication to the black liberation struggle, Wayne was hunted, beaten, and almost killed by the LAPD in four separate events. Here he reveals how the branch survived attacks such as these, and also why BPP cofounder Huey P. Newton expelled the entire Southern California chapter and deemed it â€œtoo dangerous to remain a part of the national organization.
The Los Angeles branch was the proving ground for some of the most beloved and colorful characters in Panther lore, including Bunchy Carter, Masai Hewitt, Geronimo “ji-Jaga” Pratt, and Elaine Brown. Nine Lives fills in a missing piece of Black Panther history, while making clear why black Los Angeles was home to two of the most devastating riots in the history of urban America. But it also eloquently relates one man’s triumph over police terror, internal warfare, and personal demons. It will doubtless soon take its place among the classics of black militant literature.
The Other Side of the Pillow
August 5, 2014
The New York Times bestselling Queen of Erotica, Zane is back with a new novel about a testy love affair that emerges between a woman whoâ€™s had enough and a man whoâ€™s had it all.
Jemistry Daniels is a bitter woman and not trying to hide it. Even though she is beautiful, intelligent, and makes six figures a year as a high school principal in Washington, DC, one man after another has failed her. So she decides to give up and join the party by adapting the entire â€œfriends with benefitsâ€ mentality with a couple of men that she beds on the regular but refuses to hold any kind of real conversation with, in fear that she might actually catch feelings.
Everything is going according to plan until she meets Dr. Tevin Harris, a prominent vascular surgeon, one night at a poetry slam. Tevin listens to her deliver her male-bashing poem and instead of steering away from her like most men with any common sense would do, he asks her out. Tevin has been casually dating for years, ever since his failed marriage to Estella. They had suffered several miscarriages and the emotional pain had become too much for either one of them to bear and still wake up with each other every morning.
Opening up, gaining trust, tearing down barriers, and ultimately, having the audacity to love again is not easy for either Jemistry or Tevin. It takes a lot of transparency, emotional honesty, and patience to even begin to build a life together by helping each other rebuild what has been broken. The Other Side of the Pillow examines, explores, and exposes what it means to truly fall in love. It proves that true love stories do not have a happy ending. True love stories never end at all.
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee are legendary stars of the American stage, television, and film, a beloved and revered couple cherished not just for their acting artistry but also for their lifelong commitment to civil rights, family values, and the black community. Now they look back on a half-century of their personal and political struggles to maintain a healthy marriage and to create the record of distinguished accomplishment that earned each a Presidential Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
With Ossie and Ruby overflows with consummate storytelling skill developed by decades in the spotlight. From their early years as struggling actors in Harlem’s black theater to Broadway and Hollywood stardom, they regale the reader with colorful, entertaining tales of the places they’ve been and the people they’ve met. But their charming humor is leavened with a more serious side, as they share their experiences of keeping a family together in a world where scandal and divorce is the rule, and of being artists and political activists in an era of intense racial ferment. Born into the struggle, their characters were shaped by the dynamic collisions of life, politics, and art; and from those experiences, they achieved some sense of their worth as married people, friends, and lovers.
Warm, positive, and compelling, this is a book that will surprise and challenge readers everywhere — black and white, male and female, young and old. Lifting the veil of public image, media hype, and mystique, Ossie and Ruby speak of the real-life dilemmas and rewards of their lifelong search for purpose and value.
The Root’s book selections for the Summer of 2014, featuring “Book of Hours” by Kevin Young, “Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson” by Barbara Ransby, “Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II” by Farah Jasmine Griffin:
Book of Hours: Poems by Kevin Young
A decade after the sudden and tragic loss of his father, we witness the unfolding of grief. “In the night I brush / my teeth with a razor,” he tells us, in one of the collection’s piercing two-line poems. Capturing the strange silence of bereavement (“Not the storm / but the calm / that slays me”), Kevin Young acknowledges, even celebrates, life’s passages, his loss transformed and tempered in a sequence about the birth of his son: in “Crowning,” he delivers what is surely one of the most powerful birth poems written by a man, describing “her face / full of fire, then groaning your face / out like a flower, blood-bloom,/ crocused into air.” Ending this book of both birth and grief, the gorgeous title sequence brings acceptance, asking “What good/are wishes if they aren’t / used up?” while understanding “How to listen / to what’s gone.” Young’s frank music speaks directly to the reader in these elemental poems, reminding us that the right words can both comfort us and enlarge our understanding of life’s mysteries.
Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson by Barbara Ransby
Eslanda “Essie” Cardozo Goode Robeson lived a colorful and amazing life. Her career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin’s Russia, and China two months after Mao’s revolution. She was a woman of unusual accomplishment — an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women’s rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker. Yet historians for the most part have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband. In this masterful book, biographer Barbara Ransby refocuses attention on Essie, one of the most important and fascinating black women of the twentieth century.
Chronicling Essie’s eventful life, the book explores her influence on her husband’s early career and how she later achieved her own unique political voice. Essie’s friendships with a host of literary icons and world leaders, her renown as a fierce defender of justice, her defiant testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s infamous anti-communist committee, and her unconventional open marriage that endured for over 40 yearsâ€”all are brought to light in the pages of this inspiring biography. Essie’s indomitable personality shines through, as do her contributions to United States and twentieth-century world history.
Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II by Farah Jasmine Griffin
As World War II raged overseas, Harlem witnessed a battle of its own. Brimming with creative and political energy, the neighborhood’s diverse array of artists and activists took advantage of a brief period of progressivism during the war years to launch a bold cultural offensive aimed at winning democracy for all Americans, regardless of race or gender. Ardent believers in America’s promise, these men and women helped to lay the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement before Cold War politics and anti-Communist fervor temporarily froze their dreams at the dawn of the postwar era.
In Harlem Nocturne, esteemed scholar Farah Jasmine Griffin tells the stories of three black female artists whose creative and political efforts fueled this historic movement for change: choreographer and dancer Pearl Primus, composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams, and novelist Ann Petry. Like many African Americans in the city at the time, these women weren’t native New Yorkers, but the metropolis and its vibrant cultural scene gave them the space to flourish and the freedom to express their political concerns. Pearl Primus performed nightly at the legendary Cafe Society, the first racially integrated club in New York, where she debuted dances of social protest that drew on long-buried African traditions and the dances of former slaves in the South. Williams, meanwhile, was a major figure in the emergence of bebop, collaborating with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell and premiering her groundbreaking Zodiac Suite at the legendary performance space Town Hall. And Ann Petry conveyed the struggles of working-class black women to a national audience with her acclaimed novel The Street, which sold over a million copies — a first for a female African American author.
A rich biography of three artists and the city that inspired them, Harlem Nocturne captures a period of unprecedented vitality and progress for African Americans and women, revealing a cultural movement and a historical moment whose influence endures today.
The Cutting Season: A Novel by Attica Locke
Attica Locke‘s breathtaking debut novel, Black Water Rising, won resounding acclaim from major publications coast-to-coast and from respected crime fiction masters like James Ellroy and George Pelecanos, earning this exciting new author comparisons to Dennis Lehane, Scott Turow, and Walter Mosley. Locke returns with The Cutting Season, a second novel easily as gripping and powerful as her first — a heart-pounding thriller that interweaves two murder mysteries, one on Belle Vie, a historic landmark in the middle of Lousiana’s Sugar Cane country, and one involving a slave gone missing more than one hundred years earlier. Black Water Rising was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, an Edgar Award, and an NAACP Image Award, and was short-listed for the Orange Prize in the U.K. The Cutting Season has been selected by bestselling author Dennis Lehane as the first pick for his new line of books at HarperCollins.
Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward
“We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.” — Harriet Tubman
In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five young men in her life — to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: Why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth — and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.
Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue higher education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. A brutal world rendered beautifully, Jesmyn Wardâ€™s memoir will sit comfortably alongside Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying, Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life, and Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Essence Magazine’s book selections for June 2014, featuring their “Summer Reading Challenge” (Wendy Williams’ “Hold Me in Contempt,” Walter Mosley’s “Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore,” Morowa Yejide’s “Time of the Locust,” Cynthia Bond’s “Ruby,” Lauren Francis-Sharma’s’s “‘Til the Well Runs Dry,” and Elizabeth Nunez’ “Not for Everyday Use”), Toni Braxton’s memoir “Unbreak My Heart,” and T.D. Jakes’ “Instinct”:
Hold Me in Contempt: A Romance by Wendy Williams
Move over 50 Shades, there’s a new romance in town. Superstar Wendy Williams brings on the heat in her first ever, no-holds-barred, down and dirty, romance novel.
Kimberly Kind is trying to get beyond her roots. A successful, beautiful, smart lawyer, she’s finally finding direction in her life and getting out of the streets. But a terrible accident threatens to throw her carefully laid plans off course. Now Kim’s hiding a huge secret — one that could threaten everything.
Enter King. A perfect mix of Justin Timberlake and David Beckham, the man oozes sex and has more swagger than anyone Kim’s ever met. Their chemistry is off the charts. But after passion-filled nights, the intensity of their emotions takes both of them by surprise.
Love was not supposed to be an option. Now it’s the only thing holding them together. When their pasts come back with a vengeance, can love possibly be enough?
Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore: A Novel by Walter Mosley
In this scorching, mournful, often explicit, and never less than moving literary novel by the famed creator of the Easy Rawlins series, Debbie Dare, a black porn queen, has to come to terms with her sordid life in the adult entertainment industry after her tomcatting husband dies in a hot tub. Electrocuted. With another woman in there with him. Debbie decides she just isn’t going to “do it anymore.” But executing her exit strategy from the porn world is a wrenching and far from simple process.
Millions of men (and no doubt many women) have watched famed black porn queen Debbie Dare — she of the blond wig and blue contacts — “do it” on television and computer screens every which way with every combination of partners the mind of man can imagine. But one day an unexpected and thunderous on-set orgasm catches Debbie unawares, and when she returns to the mansion she shares with her husband, insatiable former porn star and “film producer” Theon Pinkney, she discovers that he’s died in a case of hot tub electrocution, “auditioning” an aspiring “starlet.” Burdened with massive debts that her husband incurred, and which various L.A. heavies want to collect on, Debbie must reckon with a life spent in the peculiar subculture of the pornography industry and her estrangement from her family and the child she had to give up. She’s done with porn, but her options for what might come next include the possibility of suicide. Debbie . . . is a portrait of a ransacked but resilient soul in search of salvation and a cure for grief.
Time of the Locust: A Novel by Morowa Yejide
Travel into the heart and mind of an extraordinary autistic boy in this deeply imaginative debut novel of a mother’s devotion, a father’s punishment, and the power of love.
Sephiri is an autistic boy who lives in a world of his own making, where he dwells among imagined sea creatures that help him process information in the “real world” in which he is forced to live. But lately he has been having dreams of a mysterious place, and he starts creating fantastical sketches of this strange, inner world.
Brenda, Sephiri’s mother, struggles with raising her challenged child alone. Her only wish is to connect with him — a smile on his face would be a triumph. Meanwhile, Sephiri’s father, Horus, is sentenced to life in prison, making life even lonelier for Brenda and Sephiri. Yet prison is still not enough to separate father and son. In the seventh year of his imprisonment and the height of his isolation, Horus develops supernatural mental abilities that allow him to reach his son. Memory and yearning carry him outside his body, and through the realities of their ordeals and dreamscape, Horus and Sephiri find each other — and find hope in ways never imagined.
Deftly portrayed by the remarkable and talented up-and-comer Morowa Yejide, Time of the Locust is a brilliant narrative about the psychological realms of solitude, youth, and wonder. At its heart, this is a harrowing, surreal, and redemptive journey to the union of a family.
Ruby: A Novel by Cynthia Bond
The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her — this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.
Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city–the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village–all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby Bell finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.
Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.
‘Til the Well Runs Dry: A Novel by Lauren Francis-Sharma
A glorious and moving multi-generational, multicultural saga that begins in the 1940s and sweeps through the 1960’s in Trinidad and the United States.
Lauren Francis-Sharma‘s ‘Til the Well Runs Dry opens in a seaside village in the north of Trinidad where young Marcia Garcia, a gifted and smart-mouthed 16-year-old seamstress, lives alone, raising two small boys and guarding a family secret. When she meets Farouk Karam, an ambitious young policeman (so taken with Marcia that he elicits the help of a tea-brewing obeah woman to guarantee her ardor), the risks and rewards in Marcia’s life amplify forever.
On an island rich with laughter, Calypso, Carnival, cricket, beaches and salty air, sweet fruits and spicy stews, the novel follows Marcia and Farouk from their amusing and passionate courtship through personal and historical events that threaten Marcia’s secret, entangle the couple and their children in a scandal, and endanger the future for all of them.
‘Til the Well Runs Dry tells the twinned stories of a spirited woman’s love for one man and her bottomless devotion to her children. For readers who cherish the previously untold stories of women’s lives, here is a story of grit and imperfection and love that has not been told before.
Not for Everyday Use: A Memoir by Elizabeth Nunez
Tracing the four days from the moment she gets the call that every immigrant fears to the burial of her mother, Elizabeth Nunez tells the haunting story of her lifelong struggle to cope with the consequences of the “sterner stuff” of her parents’ ambitions for their children and her mother’s seemingly unbreakable conviction that displays of affection are not for everyday use.
But Nunez sympathizes with her parents, whose happiness is constrained by the oppressive strictures of colonialism, by the Catholic Church’s prohibition of artificial birth control which her mother obeys, terrified by the threat of eternal damnation (her mother gets pregnant fourteen times: nine live births and five miscarriages which almost kill her), and by what Malcolm Gladwell refers to as the “privilege of skin color” in his mother’s Caribbean island homeland where “the brown-skinned classes…came to fetishize their lightness.” Still, a fierce love holds this family together, and the passionate, though complex, love Nunez’s parents have for each other will remind readers of the passion between the aging lovers in Gabriel Garcia Marquez‘s Love in the Time of Cholera. Written in exquisite prose by a writer the New York Times Book Review calls “a master at pacing and plotting,” Not for Everyday Use is a page-turner that readers will find impossible to put down.
Unbreak My Heart: A Memoir by Toni Braxton
In this heartfelt memoir, six-time Grammy Award-winning artist and star of WE TV’s reality hit, Braxton Family Values, Toni Braxton writes about her personal life decisions and their impact on her health, family and career.
While Braxton appears to be living a gilded life — selling 60 million records, appearing in sold-out Las Vegas performances and hit shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” and starring in her own reality series — hers is in fact a tumultuous story, a tale of triumph over a life filled with obstacles, including two bankruptcy filings. The mother of an autistic child, Braxton long feared that her son’s condition might be karmic retribution for earlier life choices, some of which will shock fans. But when heart ailments began plaguing her at the age of 41 and she was diagnosed with Lupus, Braxton knew she had to move beyond the self-recrimination and take charge of her own healing.
Intensely honest and deeply inspirational, Unbreak My Heart is the never-before-told story of the measures Braxton took to make herself and her family whole again.
Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive by T. D. Jakes
Modern life can seem like being lost in a jungle. With distractions and dangers emerging from every direction, it’s easy to lose focus. Over time, we lose touch with one of our most powerful, purposeful, God-given attributes–the desire to be fruitful and multiply, what Bishop T. D. Jakes calls our “instinct for increase.”
Combining historical, cultural, and personal examples with biblical insights, in INSTINCT, Bishop Jakes outlines how to re-discover your natural aptitudes and re-claim the wisdom of your past experiences. When attuned to divinely inspired instincts, you will become in sync with the opportunities life presents and discover a fresh abundance of resources. Knowing when to close a deal, when to take a risk, and when to listen to your heart will become possible when you’re in touch with the instincts that God gave you.
Bishop T.D. Jakes — iconic preacher, bestselling author, and entrepreneur–has inspired millions of people around the world. Here he writes from the peak of his personal power about how to experience the satisfaction of a life well lived. If you long to conquer the jungles of life, INSTINCT offers the personal and professional tools needed to navigate your course successfully and according to God’s design.
Angela Ardis is an exceptional writer of animation, live production, television, film and ghostwriting. She’s also written children’s books, poetry books, erotica, fiction and memoirs. Angela reached international acclaim with her memoir entitled, “Inside A Thug’s Heart,” which was compiled of an exchange of letters, poetry and conversations with the late rapper Tupac Shakur which was published in hard cover in 2004, re-released in paperback in 2009 and an e-book released 2013. This award-nominated book was also translated into Polish.
After a year of co-hosting the internet radio show “Talk with Angela and Hank,” Angela joined as co-host of the popular internet radio show “Lipstick, High Heels and B.S.,” a no-nonsense internet platform that allows her and several co-hosts to express their views on sex, relationships, love, current events and life. Here she was given an opportunity to head two segments, “Shoe Lover Tuesday,” where she expresses details, information and tips for everything shoes and “Lipstick Letters” where she gives advice, help and opinions on questions asked by the public.
Angela Ardis has experienced some success in films (“Black and Blue” and “All I Want“) as well as television shows like (“The Wayan’s Brothers,” “In The House,” “Michael Hayes“). Modeling lent its hand to several projects (fashion shows: Reggio, Banu Paris, Farinae, Bonnie Strauss, and Don Sayres; print: regional and national magazines such as Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Black Man, Jet, Aloette, Profiles Magazine, Black Market, Silk2, Mallory Furs, Playboy).
She released several new projects in 2013: a poetry book “My Mind’s Poetry: Relationships,” a petite help book series for beginning writers “I Have a Story: Getting Started,” and her sophomore novel, the first of a trilogy, entitled “The Block.” In addition, production has begun on a series geared for Showtime television and preparations are being made for a South African book tour in the fall of 2014.
(1) “The Block” is such an intense read. What was your inspiration in writing in it? What has been the reader and critic response to it?
“The Block” was inspired by a particular neighborhood in Detroit – not knocking Detroit, but this particular neighborhood was one where sheets adorned the windows, the roofs were caved in, porches broken, stripped paint, fire damage, dirt lawns and trash everywhere. However, the poetry in the view was the music playing loudly, people hanging out on the porches of these, supposed, uninhabitable homes. The children playing looked happy. The people looked content and settled.
It was clear the occupants had ‘leaned into’ their circumstances, environment and their lives. But what were their lives? My brain immediately came up with a synopsis of what I was seeing, put it on steroids and then the voices began telling me their story… Hence, the conception of “The Block.”
Readers and critics have been moved by the story. The rollercoaster ride, the book sends the reader on, exercises every emotion available. Some feel extremely sad by some areas because “The Block” is seen through the eyes of the children and not flashbacks from adults. It’s funny, dramatic, harsh, but most of all it’s real, truthful and unfortunately happens in almost every neighborhood, town, city, state and country. Readers enjoyed and cringe from the rawness. However, overall, most had a hard time getting through the first 3 chapters but couldn’t put the book down after that and are eagerly awaiting the sequel. That excites me.
(2) You mentioned that “The Block” is the first of a trilogy. While you may not want to divulge any secrets, what should we expect?
Jaw dropping revelations! Getting a sense of who these characters are and what you “believe” their circumstances were, was what book one was geared to do. However, “The Block: Truth Revealed,” the sequel, will give you the real truths behind everyone and introduce the parents in a tangible way. However, the danger that lurks throughout book 2 will be felt until the end.
The final installment “The Block: The Labyrinth,” will be the ultimate revelation of what the block really is and how the lives of so many have truly never been their own. Everyone won’t make it to book 3 and some may not make it out of book 2. You’ll have to read to find out!
(3) With this era of books being turned into movies, especially trilogies and other series, are you planning anything beyond the printed word for “The Block“?
Yes. My intention is to mold it into a TV series, then movie and possibly a stage play. It has layers and legs that could and would inspire, move and engage society as a whole.
(4) You have so many interests – acting, modeling, ghost-writing, internet radio host, shoes (!) – how do you find the time to write for yourself? What is your writing process like?
I write on my phone a lot! Between my notepad and voice recordings, there are tons of notes. However, they’re not all geared towards one project. Oftentimes, I find myself awakened in the middle of the night by a voice…loud thought and I begin to night write in the dark. I never turn on the lights. In the morning I’ll read what I wrote and place it in my project folder, for whichever project it’s for. I write while I’m shopping, watching TV, in the movies, at dinner, out with friends, it doesn’t really turn off. Everything I see is inspiring.
The more I tap into that side of myself, the better my writing will become.
My writing process isn’t complicated. I write when my characters speak. If they have something to say, I write it. My job is to tell their story not my version of their story.
Patience is essential. However, I’m creating scenarios all the time for the story but the characters determine where the story is going and when.
(5) What is the process like for promoting your books? As a self-published author, what did you do to get the word out?
Arduous — I definitely prefer going the publishing house route. The work is on them and I show up. However, social media plays an enormous part of promoting. I made a valiant effort to stay connected to the fans who reached out and who continue to reach out from my first release “Inside A Thug’s Heart.” Those loyal fans where some of the first to purchase “The Block,” my poetry book “My Mind’s Poetry: Relationships,” and “I have a Story” which helps anyone trying to get started writing. I’ve also been interviewed by several internet blogs and magazines. Word of mouth has been amazing too!
(6) What is on your bookshelf (or your e-reader)? What are you reading and enjoying? Any favorite authors?
I’m a bookie! LOL! I love the physical copy. I love Eckhart Tolle, Danièle Bott, Terry
McMillan, Sister Souljah (Coldest Winter Ever), Russell Simmons, Dr. Seuss, Gary Zuvak, Rick Johnson, and many more. My book collection is as eclectic as everything else in my world. I’m currently rereading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” because I got so much from it the first time. I highly recommend it to everyone!
The Block by Angela Ardis
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, April 3, 2013, Paperback
Five children, Robert, Troy, Reigna, Tina and Kora are trapped inside a labyrinth known as “The Block.” The inner workings of these children’s minds are released as we follow them from age ten to eighteen. Experiencing their journey through their struggle to cope, comprehend, and develop while dealing with extreme neglect, physical, mental, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse. They’re looking for love, all wanting something more, and all trying to figure a way out of their unfortunate circumstances. Born into a “no chance of a childhood” reality, they find each other, forming an alliance against the ills that plague them all. The Block will awaken the very core of the reader. It’s true to life scenarios and graphic dialog will send waves of discomfort, lending extreme compassion to the plights of the children.
Inside A Thug’s Heart by Angela Ardis
Dafina, August 1, 2009, Paperback
Rikers Island is the centerpiece of the New York City Department of Corrections, a sprawling prison city of concrete and steel with housing for more than 16,000 inmates. Early in 1995, it was also the temporary home of legendary rapper and actor Tupac Shakur, incarcerated for a crime he swore he did not commit. And it was there that Angela Ardis, acting on a late-night wager among her friends and coworkers, sent a letter, along with a photo and her phone number. To her utter delight and amazement, Angela’s phone rang a short while later. Tupac Shakur was on the line.
Over the next several months, Angela and Tupac shared a near-daily exchange of letters, poems and phone calls, and their the relationship quickly grew into something neither of them could quite define, a kinship of souls that touched each in unexpected ways. Those original poems and letters, many of them written after Tupac’s transfer from Rikers to Dannemora State Prison, are presented here, along with the increasingly passionate and personal phone calls that touched on every subject imaginable. Far from the media spotlight, Tupac was by turns playful, sensual and serious, offering sharp observations on prison, music and the uncertainties of life. His letters to Angela reflect how he felt about being shot five times and left for dead one terrible night in New York in 1994, and his heartfelt verse encapsulates his dreams for the future–a future that would be so tragically cut short just over eighteen months after their correspondence began.
Tupac Shakur was shot on September 7th, 1996 and died a week later from his injuries. His murder remains unsolved, an ending as enigmatic as his life. But while Tupac may be gone, his words live on here, giving every fan a rare glimpse inside the mind and unbroken spirit of a passionate and unpredictable musical icon.
My Mind’s Poetry: Relationships (Volume 1) by Angela Ardis
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 8, 2013, Paperback
A lifetime of experiences, trials and tribulations, heartaches and joy, drama and pain mixed with lessons learned. A real perspective to life through analogies and poetic expression. Nothing like you’ve ever read before. No mixed words or sugar coated verbiage. Lightly illustrated. Contains some adult language.
I Have A Story: Getting Started (Volume 1) by Angela Ardis
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, June 14, 2013, Paperback
After receiving hundreds of emails and letters from people asking me how to get started writing their books, I decided to put together a “petite” book series that will do just that. I Have A Story book series gives potential authors a P.S. version to writing without getting stuck with a barrage of verbiage. As they complete each volume, they will begin to see their ideas come to life on the pages of their soon-to-be publications. Volume One will help you formulate the idea then break it down in an effort to rebuild it as the story you envision.
Essence Magazine’s February 2014 book selections for Black History Month:
Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America
Sarah Rector was once famously hailed as ”the richest black girl in America.” Set against the backdrop of American history, her tale encompasses the creation of Indian Territory, the making of Oklahoma, and the establishment of black towns and oil-rich boomtowns. Rector acquired her fortune at the age of eleven. This is both her story and that of children just like her: one filled with ups and downs amid bizarre goings-on and crimes perpetrated by greedy and corrupt adults. From a trove of primary documents, including court and census records and interviews with family members, author Tonya Bolden painstakingly pieces together the events of Sarah’s life and the lives of those around her.
American Cocktail: A Colored Girl in the World
This is the rollicking, never-before-published memoir of a fascinating woman with an uncanny knack for being in the right place in the most interesting times. Of racially mixed heritage, Anita Reynolds was proudly African American but often passed for Indian, Mexican, or Creole. Actress, dancer, model, literary critic, psychologist, but above all free-spirited provocateur, she was, as her Parisian friends nicknamed her, an American cocktail. One of the first black stars of the silent era, she appeared in Hollywood movies with Rudolph Valentino, attended Charlie Chaplin’s anarchist meetings, and studied dance with Ruth St. Denis. She moved to New York in the 1920s and made a splash with both Harlem Renaissance elites and Greenwich Village bohemians. An émigré in Paris, she fell in with the Left Bank avant garde, befriending Antonin Artaud, Man Ray, and Pablo Picasso. Next, she took up residence as a journalist in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and witnessed firsthand the growing menace of fascism. In 1940, as the Nazi panzers closed in on Paris, Reynolds spent the final days before the French capitulation as a Red Cross nurse, afterward making a mad dash for Lisbon to escape on the last ship departing Europe.
The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era
Douglas R. Egerton
By 1870, just five years after Confederate surrender and thirteen years after the Dred Scott decision ruled blacks ineligible for citizenship, Congressional action had ended slavery and given the vote to black men. That same year, Hiram Revels and Joseph Hayne Rainey became the first African-American U.S. senator and congressman respectively. In South Carolina, only twenty years after the death of arch-secessionist John C. Calhoun, a black man, Jasper J. Wright, took a seat on the state’s Supreme Court. Not even the most optimistic abolitionists had thought such milestones would occur in their lifetimes. The brief years of Reconstruction marked the United States’ most progressive moment prior to the civil rights movement. This history explores the state and local politics and tracing the struggles of some fifteen hundred African-American officeholders, in both the North and South, who fought entrenched white resistance.
Without Mercy: The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime, and Corruption in the Deep South
On December 9, 1938, the state of Georgia executed six black men in eighty-one minutes in Tattnall Prison’s electric chair. The executions were a record for the state that still stands today. The new prison, built with funds from FDR’s New Deal, as well as the fact that the men were tried and executed rather than lynched were thought to be a sign of progress. They were anything but. While those men were arrested, convicted, sentenced, and executed in as little as six weeks—E. D. Rivers, the governor of the state, oversaw a pardon racket for white killers and criminals, allowed the Ku Klux Klan to infiltrate his administration, and bankrupted the state. Race and wealth were all that determined whether or not a man lived or died. There was no progress. There was no justice. A harrowing true story of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the violent death throes of the Klan, but most of all it is the story of the stunning injustice of these executions and how they have seared distrust of the legal system into the consciousness of the Deep South.
Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear
In 1962, James Meredith became a civil rights hero when he enrolled as the first African American student at the University of Mississippi. Four years later, he would make the news again when he reentered Mississippi, on foot. His plan was to walk from Memphis to Jackson, leading a “March Against Fear” that would promote black voter registration and defy the entrenched racism of the region. But on the march’s second day, he was shot by a mysterious gunman, a moment captured in a harrowing and now iconic photograph.
What followed was one of the central dramas of the civil rights era. With Meredith in the hospital, the leading figures of the civil rights movement flew to Mississippi to carry on his effort. They quickly found themselves confronting southern law enforcement officials, local activists, and one another. In the span of only three weeks, Martin Luther King, Jr., narrowly escaped a vicious mob attack; protesters were teargassed by state police; Lyndon Johnson refused to intervene; and the charismatic young activist Stokely Carmichael ﬁrst led the chant that would deﬁne a new kind of civil rights movement: Black Power.
Aram Goudsouzian’s Down to the Crossroads is the story of the last great march of the King era, and the ﬁrst great showdown of the turbulent years that followed. Depicting rural demonstrators’ courage and the impassioned debates among movement leaders, Goudsouzian reveals the legacy of an event that would both integrate African Americans into the political system and inspire even bolder protests against it. Full of drama and contemporary resonances, this book is civil rights history at its best.
Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. David L. Chappell
A sweeping history of the struggle to keep the civil rights movement alive and to realize King’s vision of an equal society. In this arresting and groundbreaking account, David L. Chappell reveals that, far from coming to an abrupt end with King’s murder, the civil rights movement entered a new phase. It both grew and splintered. These were years when decisive, historic victories were no longer within reach—the movement’s achievements were instead hard-won, and their meanings unsettled. From the fight to pass the Fair Housing Act in 1968, to debates over unity and leadership at the National Black Political Conventions, to the campaign for full-employment legislation, to the surprising enactment of the Martin Luther King holiday, to Jesse Jackson’s quixotic presidential campaigns, veterans of the movement struggled to rally around common goals. Chappell chronicles the difficulties the movement encountered while working to build coalitions, pass legislation, and mobilize citizens in the absence of King’s galvanizing leadership. Could the civil rights coalition stay together as its focus shifted from public protests to congressional politics? Did the movement need a single, charismatic leader to succeed King, and who would that be? As the movement’s leaders pushed forward, they continually looked back, struggling to define King’s legacy and harness his symbolic power.
Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-first Century
Monique W. Morris
A comprehensive guide filled with contemporary facts and figures on African Americansis an essential reference for anyone attempting to fathom the complex state of our nation. With fascinating and often surprising information on everything from incarceration rates, lending practices, and the arts to marriage, voting habits, and green jobs, the contextualized material in this book will better attune readers to telling trends while challenging commonly held, yet often misguided, perceptions. A compilation that at once highlights measures of incredible progress and enumerates the disparate impacts of social policies and practices, this book is a critical tool for advocates, educators, and policy makers.
Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music
Grammy Award-winning singer Angélique Kidjo is known for her electrifying voice and fearless advocacy work. In this intimate memoir, she reveals how she escaped Communist Africa to make her dreams a reality, and how she’s prompting others all around the world to reach for theirs as well. Born in the West African nation of Benin, Angélique Kidjo grew up surrounded by the rich sounds, rhythms, and storytelling of traditional Beninese culture. When the Communists took over, they silenced her dynamic culture and demanded that she sing in praise of them. Angélique reveals the details of her dangerous escape into France, and how she rose from poverty to become a Grammy Award–winning artist and an international sensation at the top of Billboard’s World Albums chart. She also explains why it’s important to give back by sharing stories from her work as a UNICEF ambassador and as founder of the Batonga Foundation, which gives African girls access to education.
Desmond Tutu has contributed the foreword to this remarkable volume; Alicia Keys has provided an introduction. Her eloquent, inspiring narrative is paired with more than one hundred colorful photographs documenting Angélique’s life and experiences, as well as a sampling of recipes that has sustained her on her remarkable odyssey.
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is the companion book to the six-part, six hour documentary of the same name, airing on national, primetime public television in the fall of 2013. The series is the first to air since 1968 that chronicles the full sweep of 500 years of African American history, from the origins of slavery on the African continent and the arrival of the first black conquistador, Juan Garrido, in Florida in 1513, through five centuries of remarkable historic events right up to todayâ€”when Barack Obama is serving his second term as President, yet our country remains deeply divided by race and class.
The book explores these topics in even more detail than possible in the television series, and examines many other fascinating matters as well, such as the ethnic origins — and the regional and cultural diversit — of the Africans whose enslavement led to the creation of the African American people. It delves into the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives that African Americans have created in the half a millennium since their African ancestors first arrived on these shores. Like the television series, this book guides readers on an engaging journey through the Black Atlantic world — from Africa and Europe to the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States — to shed new light on what it has meant, and means, to be an African American.
By highlighting the complex internal debates and class differences within the Black Experience in this country, readers will learn that the African American community, which black abolitionist Martin R. Delany described as a “nation within a nation,” has never been a truly uniform entity, and that its members have been debating their differences of opinion and belief from their very first days in this country. The road to freedom for black people in America has not been linear; rather, much like the course of a river, it has been full of loops and eddies, slowing and occasionally reversing current. Ultimately, this book emphasizes the idea that African American history encompasses multiple continents and venues, and must be viewed through a transnational perspective to be fully understood.
Essence Magazine’s book selections for January 2014, including “Patrik’s Picks,” “A Writer to Watch,” “10 Ways to Gain Financial Freedom,” and “Redefining Realness”:
St. Martin’s Griffin, 1/28/2014, Kindle Edition
St. Martin’s Griffin, 1/28/2014, Paperback
Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana Byrd and Lori L. Tharps
Two world wars, the Civil Rights movement, and a Jheri curl later, Blacks in America continue to have a complex and convoluted relationship with their hair. From the antebellum practice of shaving the head in an attempt to pass as a free person to the 1998 uproar over a White third-grade teacher’s reading of the book Nappy Hair, the issues surrounding Black hair continue to linger as we enter the twenty-first century.Hair Story is a historical and anecdotal exploration of Black Americans’ tangled hair roots. A chronological look at the culture and politics behind the ever-changing state of Black hair from fifteenth-century Africa to the present-day United States, it ties the personal to the political and the popular.Read about:
* Why Black American slaves used items like axle grease and eel skin to straighten their hair.
* How a Mexican chemist straightened Black hair using his formula for turning sheep’s wool into a minklike fur.
* How the Afro evolved from militant style to mainstream fashion trend.
* What prompted the creation of the Jheri curl and the popular style’s fall from grace.
* The story behind Bo Derek’s controversial cornrows and the range of reactions they garnered.
Major figures in the history of Black hair are presented, from early hair-care entrepreneurs Annie Turnbo Malone and Madam C. J. Walker to unintended hair heroes like Angela Davis and Bob Marley. Celebrities, stylists, and cultural critics weigh in on the burgeoning sociopolitical issues surrounding Black hair, from the historically loaded terms good and bad hair, to Black hair in the workplace, to mainstream society’s misrepresentation and misunderstanding of kinky locks.Hair Story is the book that Black Americans can use as a benchmark for tracing a unique aspect of their history, and it’s a book that people of all races will celebrate as the reference guide for understanding Black hair.
Three Ducks in a Row Publishing, 6/19/2013, Kindle Edition
Me First: A Deliciously Selfish Take on Life by C. Nicole Mason
Have you ever thought about what your life would be like if it revolved around you? Me First: A Deliciously Selfish Take on Life is an unapologetic and hilarious perspective on what it takes to get to the top and to live life on your own terms.
Before making any big decision such as getting into a relationship or choosing a career path—you will start with the most important question: What do I want? The second question you will ask is: How does this decision, action, or choice benefit me directly? If it’s not what you want or does not benefit you directly, don’t do it. At the heart of Me First is the belief that YOU deserve to be happy and fulfilled. Its “Delish-isms” will show you how to become the number one priority in your life and become smarter and more strategic about your relationships, career, health, and finances. Every chapter also contains “Kick Starters” to help you get moving in the right direction. How selfish, right? Absolutely! A deliciously selfish life means taking a step back from the craziness to figure out who you are and what you want, and once you do, to own it. Because the only person holding you back from getting what you want is you.
St. Martin’s Press, 12/31/2013, Hardcover
Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks 20 Pounds Lose It Faster! by Ian K. Smith
Using the same principles—meal spacing, snacking, meal replacement and diet confusion—that made his SHRED a major #1 bestseller—Dr. Ian has developed what dieters told him they needed: a quick-acting plan that is safe and easy to follow at home, at work, or on the road.
It’s a program with four week-long cycles:
–Foundation, when you’ll eat four meals and three snacks a day, start shedding pounds and set yourself up for success
–Accelerate, when you’ll kick it up and speed up weight loss
–Shape, the toughest week in the program, and the one that will get your body back by keeping it guessing
–Tenacious, a final sprint that cements your improved eating habits and melts off those last stubborn pounds
The SHRED system never leaves you hungry. It’s a completely new way to lose weight, stay slender, and feel fantastic about your body, mind and spirit!Includes more than 50 all-new recipes for meal replacing smoothies and soups!
Knopf, 1/28/2014, Kindle Edition
Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
From a breathtaking new voice, a novel about a splintered family in Kenya—a story of power and deceit, unrequited love, survival and sacrifice.
Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking some comfort and peace. But the murder has stirred memories long left untouched and unleashed a series of unexpected events: Odidi and Ajany’s mercurial mother flees in a fit of rage; a young Englishman arrives at the Ogandas’ house, seeking his missing father; a hardened policeman who has borne witness to unspeakable acts reopens a cold case; and an all-seeing Trader with a murky identity plots an overdue revenge.
In scenes stretching from the violent upheaval of contemporary Kenya back through a shocking political assassination in 1969 and the Mau Mau uprisings against British colonial rule in the 1950s, we come to learn the secrets held by this parched landscape, buried deep within the shared past of the family and of a conflicted nation. Here is a spellbinding novel about a brother and sister who have lost their way; about how myths come to pass, history is written, and war stains us forever.
Zondervan, 1/26/2010, Kindle Edition
The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom by Michelle Singletary
In her softcover book The Power to Prosper, award-winning writer Michelle Singletary has a field-tested financial challenge for you. For twenty-one days, you will put away your credit cards and buy only what you need for survival. With Michelle’s guidance during this three-week financial fast, you’ll discover how to:
* Break your spending habit
* Handle money with your significant other or your spouse
* Break your bondage to debt with the Debt Dash Plan
* Make smart investments* Be prepared for any contingency with a Life Happens Fund
* Stop worrying about money and find the priceless power of financial peace
As you discover practical ways to achieve financial freedom, you’ll experience something even more amazing … your faith and generosity will increase, too.
Atria Books, 2/4/2014, Kindle Edition
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
An extraordinary young woman recounts her coming-of-age as a transgender teen—a deeply personal and empowering portrait of self-revelation, adversity, and heroism.
In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she publicly stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Since then, Mock has gone from covering the red carpet for People.com to advocating for all those who live within the shadows of society. Redefining Realness offers a bold new perspective on being young, multiracial, economically challenged, and transgender in America. Welcomed into the world as her parents’ firstborn son, Mock set out early on to be her own person—no simple feat for a young person like herself. She struggled as the smart, determined child in a deeply loving, yet ill-equipped family that lacked money, education, and resources. Mock had to navigate her way through her teen years without parental guidance but luckily with a few close friends and mentors she overcame extremely daunting hurdles.
This powerful memoir follows Mock’s quest for identity, from her early gender conviction to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu that found her transitioning through the halls of her school, self-medicating with hormones at fifteen, and flying across the world for sex reassignment surgery at just eighteen. Ever resilient, Mock emerged with a scholarship to college and moved to New York City, where she earned her masters degree, basked in the success of an enviable career, and told no one about her past. It wasn’t until Mock fell for a man who called her the woman of his dreams that she felt ready to finally tell her story, becoming a fierce advocate for girls like herself. A profound statement of affirmation from a courageous woman, Redefining Realness shows as never before what it means to be a woman today and how to be yourself when you don’t fit the mold created for you.
A bare-knuckled, tell-all memoir from Mike Tyson, the onetime heavyweight champion of the world—and a legend both in and out of the ring. Philosopher, Broadway headliner, fighter, felon—Mike Tyson has defied stereotypes, expectations, and a lot of conventional wisdom during his three decades in the public eye. Bullied as a boy in the toughest, poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn, Tyson grew up to become one of the most thrilling and ferocious boxers of all time—and the youngest heavyweight champion ever. But his brilliance in the ring was often compromised by reckless behavior. Years of hard partying, violent fights, and criminal proceedings took their toll: by 2003, Tyson had hit rock bottom, a convicted felon, completely broke, the punch line to a thousand bad late-night jokes. Yet he fought his way back; the man who once admitted being addicted “to everything” regained his success, his dignity, and the love of his family.
With a triumphant one-man stage show, his unforgettable performances in the Hangover films, and his new found happiness and stability as a father and husband, Tyson’s story is an inspiring American original. Brutally honest, raw, and often hilarious, Tyson chronicles his tumultuous highs and lows in the same sincere, straightforward manner we have come to expect from this legendary athlete. A singular journey from Brooklyn’s ghettos to worldwide fame to notoriety, and, finally, to a tranquil wisdom, Undisputed Truth is not only a great sports memoir but an autobiography for the ages.
A brutally honest memoir of talent, addiction, and recovery from one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time. As a shy nineteen-year-old, Dwight Gooden swept into New York, lifting a team of crazy characters to World Series greatness and giving a beleaguered city a reason to believe. Then he threw it all away.
Now, with fresh and sober eyes, the Mets’ beloved Dr. K shares the intimate details of his life and career, revealing all the extraordinary highs and lows: The hidden traumas in his close-knit Tampa family. The thrill and pressure of being a young baseball phenom in New York. The raucous days and nights with the Mets’ bad boys (and the real reason he missed the 1986 World Series Victory Parade). The self-destructive drug binges and the three World Series rings. His heartbreaking attempts at getting sober, the senseless damage to family and friends, and the unexpected way he finally saved his life — on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
In Doc, Gooden details his close friendships with many of baseball’s greats: Pete Rose, George Streinbrenner, Joe Torre, and nephew Gary Sheffield. For the first time ever, he reveals the full story of his troubled relationship with fellow Mets superstar Darryl Strawberry. And he tells the moving story of the Yankees no-hitter he pitched for his dying father. Doc is a riveting baseball memoir by one of the game’s most fascinating figures, and an inspiring story for anyone who has faced tough challenges in life.
A rebellious boy’s journey through the wilds of urban America and the shrapnel of a self-destructing family — this is the riveting story of a generation told through one dazzlingly poetic new voice.
MK Asante was born in Zimbabwe to American parents: a mother who led the new nation’s dance company and a father who would soon become a revered pioneer in black studies. But things fell apart, and a decade later MK was in America, a teenager lost in a fog of drugs, sex, and violence on the streets of North Philadelphia. Now he was alone — his mother in a mental hospital, his father gone, his older brother locked up in a prison on the other side of the country — and forced to find his own way to survive physically, mentally, and spiritually, by any means necessary.
Buck is a powerful memoir of how a precocious kid educated himself through the most unconventional teachers — outlaws and eccentrics, rappers and mystic strangers, ghetto philosophers and strippers, and, eventually, an alternative school that transformed his life with a single blank sheet of paper. It’s a one-of-a-kind story about finding your purpose in life, and an inspiring tribute to the power of education, art, and love to heal and redeem us.
The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement
Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress who, with a single act, birthed the modern civil rights movement, Theoharis provides a revealing window into Parks’s politics and years of activism. She shows readers how this civil rights movement radical sought — for more than a half a century — to expose and eradicate the American racial-caste system in jobs, schools, public services, and criminal justice.
Hip hop icons and rap innovators, the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur continue to influence, define, and change the genre years after their deaths. Despite the controversies surrounding the murders of Tupac and Biggie, ultimately it’s their art that remains their biggest legacy. The music of Biggie Smalls and 2Pac has inspired the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and more. The legacies of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace — a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. — live on.
So does their rivalry, one of the greatest in music history. In 2pac vs. Biggie, hip hop experts Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey take an entirely new approach to investigation of that rivalry. Rather than focus on the countless conspiracy theories, they study the artist as artists, dissecting the lyrics of their hits (“California Love,” “All Eyez on Me,” “Changes” for 2pac, “Mo Money Mo Problems,” “Hypnotize,” “Big Poppa” for Biggie) and lesser-known works, performance and rhythmic styles, aesthetic appearances and what those meant, rises to power, and of course, their lives after death. The feud between 2pac and Biggie is broken down and looked at from all new angles, bringing to light little-known and surprising sides to each rapper’s persona and inner world.
Illustrated throughout with photographs, memorabilia, and artwork inspired by Tupac and Biggie, and with insert “versus” pages dissecting topics such as each artist’s presence in movies, critical reception, and literary influences, this book is a must-have for all rap and hip hop fans.
“You have to bear in mind that [Questlove] is one of the smartest mother****ers on the planet. His musical knowledge, for all practical purposes, is limitless.” –Robert Christgau
Mo’ Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone’s Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, hip hop, and pop culture.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is many things: virtuoso drummer, producer, arranger, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandleader, DJ, composer, and tireless Tweeter. He is one of our most ubiquitous cultural tastemakers, and in this, his first book, he reveals his own formative experiences–from growing up in 1970s West Philly as the son of a 1950s doo-wop singer, to finding his own way through the music world and ultimately co-founding and rising up with the Roots, a.k.a., the last hip hop band on Earth. Mo’ Meta Blues also has some (many) random (or not) musings about the state of hip hop, the state of music criticism, the state of statements, as well as a plethora of run-ins with celebrities, idols, and fellow artists, from Stevie Wonder to KISS to D’Angelo to Jay-Z to Dave Chappelle to…you ever seen Prince roller-skate?!?
But Mo’ Meta Blues isn’t just a memoir. It’s a dialogue about the nature of memory and the idea of a post-modern black man saddled with some post-modern blues. It’s a book that questions what a book like Mo’ Meta Blues really is. It’s the side wind of a one-of-a-kind mind.
It’s a rare gift that gives as well as takes.
It’s a record that keeps going around and around.
Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Grand Central Publishing
June 18, 2013
A decade in the making, Emily Raboteau‘s Searching for Zion takes readers around the world on an unexpected adventure of faith. Both one woman’s quest for a place to call “home” and an investigation into a people’s search for the Promised Land, this landmark work of creative nonfiction is a trenchant inquiry into contemporary and historical ethnic displacement.
At the age of twenty-three, award-winning writer Emily Raboteau traveled to Israel to visit her childhood best friend. While her friend appeared to have found a place to belong, Raboteau could not yet say the same for herself. As a biracial woman from a country still divided along racial lines, she’d never felt at home in America. But as a reggae fan and the daughter of a historian of African-American religion, Raboteau knew of “Zion” as a place black people yearned to be. She’d heard about it on Bob Marley’s Exodus and in the speeches of Martin Luther King. She understood it as a metaphor for freedom, a spiritual realm rather than a geographical one. Now in Israel, the Jewish Zion, she was surprised to discover black Jews. More surprising was the story of how they got there. Inspired by their exodus, Raboteau sought out other black communities that left home in search of a Promised Land. Her question for them is same she asks herself: have you found the home you’re looking for?
On her ten-year journey back in time and around the globe, through the Bush years and into the age of Obama, Raboteau wanders to Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ghana, and the American South to explore the complex and contradictory perspectives of Black Zionists. She talks to Rastafarians and African Hebrew Israelites, Evangelicals and Ethiopian Jews, and Katrina transplants from her own family — people that have risked everything in search of territory that is hard to define and harder to inhabit. Uniting memoir with historical and cultural investigation, Raboteau overturns our ideas of place and patriotism, displacement and dispossession, citizenship and country in a disarmingly honest and refreshingly brave take on the pull of the story of Exodus.
Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora
Atlantic Monthly Press
January 8, 2013