African American Literature
Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry
Looking for Lorraine
The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry
Paperback      ISBN: 0807039837
Winner of the 2019 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography

Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction

Winner of the Shilts-Grahn Triangle Award for Lesbian Nonfiction

Winner of the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award

A New York Times Notable Book of 2018

A revealing portrait of one of the most gifted and charismatic, yet least understood, Black artists and intellectuals of the twentieth century.

Lorraine Hansberry, who died at thirty-four, was by all accounts a force of nature. Although best-known for her work A Raisin in the Sun, her short life was full of extraordinary experiences and achievements, and she had an unflinching commitment to social justice, which brought her under FBI surveillance when she was barely in her twenties. While her close friends and contemporaries, like James Baldwin and Nina Simone, have been rightly celebrated, her story has been diminished and relegated to one work--until now. In 2018, Hansberry will get the recognition she deserves with the PBS American Masters documentary "Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart" and Imani Perry's multi-dimensional, illuminating biography, Looking for Lorraine.

After the success of A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry used her prominence in myriad ways: challenging President Kennedy and his brother to take bolder stances on Civil Rights, supporting African anti-colonial leaders, and confronting the romantic racism of the Beat poets and Village hipsters. Though she married a man, she identified as lesbian and, risking censure and the prospect of being outed, joined one of the nation's first lesbian organizations. Hansberry associated with many activists, writers, and musicians, including Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, among others. Looking for Lorraine is a powerful insight into Hansberry's extraordinary life--a life that was tragically cut far too short.

A Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Book for Nonfiction

A 2019 Pauli Murray Book Prize Finalist
Brother, I'm Dying
Brother, I'm Dying
Paperback      ISBN: 1400034302

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography
A National Book Award Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book

From the age of four, award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her "second father," when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she was both elated and saddened when, at twelve, she joined her parents and youngest brothers in New York City. As Edwidge made a life in a new country, adjusting to being far away from so many who she loved, she and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorated.

In 2004, they entered into a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Brother I'm Dying is an astonishing true-life epic, told on an intimate scale by one of our finest writers.

The Whiskey of Our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience and Change Agent
The Whiskey of Our Discontent
Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience and Change Agent
Paperback      ISBN: 1608467635

Winner of the 2017 Central New York Book Award for nonfiction

Finalist for the 2017 Chicago Review of Books Award

The first black woman to be named United States poet laureate, Brook's poetry, fiction, and social commentary shed light on the beauty of humanity, the distinct qualities of black life and community, and the destructive effects of racism, sexism, and class inequality.

A collection of thirty essays combining critical analysis and personal reflection, The Whiskey of Our Discontent, presents essential elements of Brooks' oeuvre--on race, gender, class, community, and poetic craft, while also examining her life as poet, reporter, mentor, sage, activist, and educator.

Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor
Hokum
An Anthology of African-American Humor
Paperback      ISBN: 1596911484

Edited by the author of The Sellout, winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize, Hokum is a liberating, eccentric, savagely comic anthology of the funniest writing by black Americans.

This book is less a comprehensive collection than it is a mix-tape narrative dubbed by a trusted friend--a sampler of underground classics, rare grooves, and timeless summer jams, poetry and prose juxtaposed with the blues, hip-hop, political speeches, and the world's funniest radio sermon. The subtle musings of Toni Cade Bambara, Henry Dumas, and Harryette Mullen are bracketed by the profane and often loud ruminations of Langston Hughes, Darius James, Wanda Coleman, Tish Benson, Steve Cannon, and Hattie Gossett. Some of the funniest writers don't write, so included are selections from well-known yet unpublished wits Lightnin' Hopkins, Mike Tyson, and the Reverend Al Sharpton. Selections also come from public figures and authors whose humor, although incisive and profound, is often overlooked: Malcolm X, Suzan-Lori Parks, Zora Neale Hurston, Sojourner Truth, and W.E.B. Dubois. Groundbreaking, fierce, and hilarious, this is a necessary anthology for any fan or student of American writing, with a huge range and a smart, political grasp of the uses of humor.

The Word: Black Writers Talk about the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing
The Word
Black Writers Talk about the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing
Paperback      ISBN: 0767929918
Critically acclaimed Black writers reveal how books have shaped their personal lives--in often unexpected ways.

In these thirteen strikingly candid interviews, bestselling authors, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and writers picked by Oprah's Book Club discuss how the acts of reading and writing have deeply affected their lives by expanding the conceptual borders of their communities and broadening their sense of self.

Edwidge Danticat movingly recounts the first time she encountered a Black character in a book and how this changed her worldview forever; Edward P. Jones speaks openly about being raised by an illiterate mother; J. California Cooper discusses the spiritual sources of her literary inspiration; Nathan McCall explains how reading saved his life while in prison; Pearl Cleage muses eloquently about how other people's stories help one make one's own way in the world; and world-renowned historian John Hope Franklin--in one of the last interviews he gave before his death--touchingly recalls his childhood in the segregated South and how reading opened his mind to life's greater possibilities.

The stories that emerge from these in-depth interviews not only provide an important record of the creative life of leading Black writers but also explore the vast cultural and spiritual benefits of reading and writing, and they support the growing initiative to encourage people to read as both a passion and a pastime.
Along This Way: The Autobiography of James Weldon Johnson
Along This Way
The Autobiography of James Weldon Johnson
Paperback      ISBN: 0140184015

The distinguished Black writer, lecturer, political figure and civil rights leader offers an account of his turbulent life and career

Violence in the Black Imagination: Essays and Documents
Violence in the Black Imagination
Essays and Documents
Paperback      ISBN: 0195082494

1992 has been an explosive year for racial relations in the United States--from the reactions to the Rodney King verdict to debate about Malcolm X and the film portrayal of his role in American history. What relations do the recent events in Los Angeles have to the Watts Riots in 1965? Violence in the Black Imagination shows that these recent events force us to understand the history of racism in America and its legacy of antagonism and violence. Ronald T. Takaki presents three short novels of major African-American leaders in the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the leading black abolitionist; Martin Delany, the father of black nationalism; and William Wells Brown, a pioneer of the black novel. The novels are accompanied by substantive essays which provide both biographical information on the author and explore the common theme of their work--the issue of black revolutionary violence in antebellum America. The work includes a new preface which examines the 1992 South Central Los Angeles racial explosion in relationship to Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the 1965 Watts Riot.

Progress Compromised: Social Movements and the Individual in African American Postmodern Fiction
Progress Compromised
Social Movements and the Individual in African American Postmodern Fiction
Hardcover      ISBN: 0807169927

In Progress Compromised, John L. Glenn examines how African American literature engages in debates about the political and cultural tensions prompted by black social movements during the 1950s and 1960s. Glenn presents detailed case studies of four major novels that illuminate specific periods crucial in the history of African American political struggles, including campaigns for racial integration, the zenith of the civil rights movement, black nationalism, and the immediate legacy of the civil rights era. His analysis provides a nuanced understanding of black postmodern culture and shows how writers use fiction to postulate new modes of resistance and selfhood that defy societal constraints.

In Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist, the first black female elevator inspector and her male counterparts reconsider their notions of what progress means for African Americans newly integrated into civil service and mass industry. Alice Walker's Meridian observes the novel's title character as she copes with the psychological distress experienced by activists participating in the civil rights movement, emphasizing how they bear the psychic and emotional weight of their struggle for equality. John Oliver Killens's satire The Cotillion; or, One Good Bull Is Half the Herd considers class stratification among black communities and social organizations by following the protagonists as they expose the biases of a society women's group, set against a backdrop of late-1960s black nationalism. Finally, Toni Morrison's Tar Baby concerns members of the post-civil rights generation who struggle to achieve self-renewal through introspection while confronting unresolved issues about racial identity and socioeconomic mobility.

Progress Compromised showcases the discourse on black cultural politics circulating within late-twentieth-century African American literature, revealing how postmodern fiction investigates the effects of historical movements on individuals, their respective communities, and their efforts to resist social conformity and retain personal identity.
East-West Literary Imagination: Cultural Exchanges from Yeats to Morrison
East-West Literary Imagination
Cultural Exchanges from Yeats to Morrison
Hardcover      ISBN: 0826220800

This study traces the shaping presence of cultural interactions, arguing that American literature has become a hybridization of Eastern and Western literary traditions. Cultural exchanges between the East and West began in the early decades of the nineteenth century as American transcendentalists explored Eastern philosophies and arts. Hakutani examines this influence through the works of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. He further demonstrates the East-West exchange through discussions of the interactions by modernists such as Yone Noguchi, Yeats, Pound, Camus, and Kerouac.

Finally, he argues that African American literature, represented by Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and James Emanuel, is postmodern. Their works exhibit their concerted efforts to abolish marginality and extend referentiality, exemplifying the postmodern East-West crossroads of cultures. A fuller understanding of their work is gained by situating them within this cultural conversation. The writings of Wright, for example, take on their full significance only when they are read, not as part of a national literature, but as an index to an evolving literature of cultural exchanges.

The Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language, and Twentieth-Century Literature
The Dialect of Modernism
Race, Language, and Twentieth-Century Literature
Hardcover      ISBN: 0195085167

The Dialect of Modernism uncovers the crucial role of racial masquerade and linguistic imitation in the emergence of literary modernism.
Rebelling against the standard language, and literature written in it, modernists, such as Joseph Conrad, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams reimagined themselves as racial aliens and mimicked the strategies of dialect speakers in their work. In doing so, they made possible the most radical representational strategies of modern literature, which emerged from their attack on the privilege of standard language.
At the same time, however, another movement, identified with Harlem, was struggling to free itself from the very dialect the modernists appropriated, at least as it had been rendered by two generations of white dialect writers. For writers such as Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Zora Neale Hurston, this dialect became a barrier as rigid as the standard language itself.
Thus, the two modern movements, which arrived simultaneously in 1922, were linked and divided by their different stakes in the same language. In The Dialect of Modernism, Michael North shows, through biographical and historical investigation, and through careful readings of major literary works, that however different they were, the two movements are inextricably connected, and thus, cannot be considered in isolation. Each was marked, for good and bad, by the other.