Friday, July 31, 2009

To Tell The Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B.Wells

Born to slaves in 1862, Ida B. Wells became a fearless antilynching crusader, women’s rights advocate, and journalist. Wells’s refusal to accept any compromise on racial inequality caused her to be labeled a “dangerous radical” in her day but made her a model for later civil rights activists as well as a powerful witness to the troubled racial politics of her era. In the richly illustratedTo Tell the Truth Freely, the historian Mia Bay vividly captures Wells’s legacy and life, from her childhood in Mississippi to her early career in late nineteenth-century Memphis and her later life in Progressive-era Chicago.

Wells’s fight for racial and gender justice began in 1883, when she was a young schoolteacher who traveled to her rural schoolhouse by rail. Forcibly ejected from her seat on a train one day on account of her race, Wells immediately sued the railroad. Though she ultimately lost her case on appeal in the Supreme Court of Tennessee, the published account of her legal challenge to Jim Crow changed her life, propelling her into a career as an outspoken journalist and social activist. Also a fierce critic of the racial violence that marked her era, Wells went on to launch a crusade against lynching that took her across the United States and eventually to Britain. Though she helped found the NAACP in 1910 after resettling in Chicago, she would not remain a member for long. Always militant in her quest for racial justice, Wells rejected not only Booker T. Washington’s accommodationism but also the moderating influence of white reformers within the early NAACP. The life of Ida B. Wells and her enduring achievements are dramatically recovered in Mia Bay’s To Tell the Truth Freely.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

NeNe Leakes New Book: Never Make The Same Mistake Twice

Outrageous, captivating, and unafraid to tell it like it is, Nene Leakes shares her wild journey from a scandalous past to the pinnacle of reality television stardom. Lauded by her fans for her refreshing honesty, infectiously genuine style, and clever sense of humor, Nene is an empowered, self-made woman who has not forgotten where she came from and knows exactly where she wants to go.

In this straight-talking and provocative memoir Nene charts her journey from family black sheep to single mother to making good and realizing her dreams. With her charm and bold, self-possessed voice, Nene tackles her painful childhood; the abuse she suffered at the hands of a violent boyfriend; her struggle to support her firstborn son; and her path to true love, self-acceptance, and pride.

In Never Make the Same Mistake Twice, Nene dishes on her cast mates; takes on the rumors about her past; and shares hard-earned and inspiring life lessons in her fierce, no-nonsense, and irreverent style.

Product Details
Touchstone, August 2009
Hardcover, 240 pages
ISBN-10: 1-4391-6730-3
ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-6730-4
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E. Lynn Harris New Novel To be Published This Fall

E. Lynn Harris' book tour will go forward in honor of the author.

Harris honor: E. Lynn Harris wanted to do a "thank you" tour this fall, meeting with fans in small cities to get back to promoting his novels on a "grass-roots level," says Karen Hunter, whose Pocket Books imprint will publish his novel Mama Dearest in September. MORE

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Author E. Lynn Harris Dies at Age 54

Long before the secret world of closeted black gay men came to light in America, bestselling author E. Lynn Harris introduced a generation of black women to the phenomenon known as the "down low."

Harris endeared such characters to readers who were otherwise unfamiliar with them, using themes and backdrops familiar to urban professionals, conditioned by their upbringings, their church leaders or their friends to condemn and criticize homosexuality in the African-American community. A proud Razorback cheerleader at the University of Arkansas who struggled with his own sexuality before becoming a pioneer of gay black fiction, Harris died Thursday at age 54 while promoting his latest book in Los Angeles.

Publicist Laura Gilmore said Harris died Thursday night after being stricken at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, and a cause of death had not been determined. She said Harris, who lived in Atlanta, fell ill on a train to Los Angeles a few days ago and blacked out for a few minutes, but seemed fine after that.

An improbable and inspirational success story, Harris worked for a decade as an IBM executive before taking up writing, selling the novel "Invisible Life" from his car as he visited salons and beauty parlors around Atlanta. He had unprecedented success for an openly gay black author and his strength as a romance writer led some to call him the "male Terry McMillan."

In 15 years, Harris became the genre's most successful author, penning 11 titles, ten of them New York Times bestsellers. More than four million of his books are in print.

McMillan had just spoken to Harris about a week ago, to tell him she would pay tribute to him in her upcoming book by having a character read one of his titles, "And This Too Shall Pass."

"He was thrilled," McMillan said. "I loved his spirit and generosity. I loved that he found his own niche in the world of fiction, and I'm grateful to have known him. This just breaks my heart."

He went on to mainstream success with works such as the novel "Love of My Own" and the memoir "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted." MORE
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stephen L. Carter Loves to Keep His Readers Guessing

Yale Law School professor Stephen L. Carter leads a double life — his best-selling novels include The Emperor of Ocean Park and New England White. His latest, Jericho's Fall (Knopf, $25.95), revolves around Jericho Ainsley, a disgraced and dying former CIA director, and his onetime lover. Carter, 54, spoke with USA TODAY from his office in New Haven.More
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Author Details Story of Incarcerated Vocal Group

It sounds like a film script: five African-American men incarcerated at the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville during the '40s and '50s form a vocal group and release a hit record. But the story is true.

The blues quintet, dubbed The Prisonaires, was led by Johnny Bragg, who was serving 594 years for multiple counts of rape, and included William Stewart, serving 99 years for witnessing the murder of a man; Marcel Sanders, facing one to five years for involuntary manslaughter; Ed Thurman, serving 99 years for murdering a man who killed his dog; and John Drue Jr., serving three years for larceny.

They made history with their song, "Just Walkin' in the Rain," which was released on Sun Records in 1953.

Jay Warner, a six-time Grammy-winning music publisher and the founder of National League Music recounts The Prisonaires story in "Just Walkin' in the Rain: The True Story of the Prisonaires: the Convict Pioneers of R&B and Rock & Roll" (Renaissance Books, $25).

The tale is complex and inspiring as it deals with the issues of civil rights and prison reform, but its main focus is on the relationship between Bragg and the governor of the time, Frank Clement.

"It's really two men from opposite ends of the social and political spectrum who find a need in each other.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Bestselling Authors To Attend 2009 National Book Festival

Washington, D.C. (CNS) - A bevy of bestselling authors will be on hand to make presentations at the ninth annual 2009 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The popular event will be held on Saturday, September 26 at the National Mall.

Bestselling authors David Baldacci, John Grisham, John Irving, Julia Alvarez, Judy Blume, Ken Burns, Gwen Ifill and Jodi Picoult will all be attending the festival. Celebrity chef Paula Deen will also be there to present.

The event is organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, with President Barack Obama and first Lady Michelle Obama acting as Honorary Chairs. Last year, the festival had over 120,000 people attend and is free and open to the public.More
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Book News:Touré Writing Book About 'Post-Blackness' For Free Press

Touré Writing Book About 'Post-Blackness' For Free Press
Rolling Stone contributing editor, TV personality and compulsive Twitter-er Touré has signed a deal with Free Press to write a book about “post-blackness.” The book, titled Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness, was described in a deal memo posted on Publishers Lunch as a “treatise” on black identity in the age of Obama, based on interviews with dozens of “black American artists, writers and thinkers.” >MORE
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Book News: Jay-Z Close to Book Deal With Spiegel & Grau

Jay-Z Close to Book Deal With Spiegel & Grau

Jay-Z is close to finalizing a book deal with the Spiegel & Grau imprint of Random House. The literary agent repping the rapper, Matthew Guma, had no comment, but sources say the book will consist of Jay-Z commenting on and telling the stories behind his lyrics.

Sources said that when Mr. Guma originally approached editors and publishers earlier this summer, he was talking about doing a bundle of three books: One was going to be a traditional memoir, one was going to be a business book, and the third was the one that Spiegel & Grau ended up acquiring.

This will be the first book by Jay-Z, who famously claims never to write down his lyrics on paper. When it will be published is unknown. The multiplatinum-selling rapper's next album, The Blueprint III, is scheduled for release on Sept. 11, 2009. More
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stormy Weather

The Life of Lena Horne
By James Gavin (Atria Books; 598 pages, $27)

For most of her life, Lena Horne has been a very angry woman. She may have given as good as she got for many of her 92 years, but as related in James Gavin's definitive new biography, she had reason enough.

"Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne" takes its title from her signature song, but in the beginning, it wasn't even her song: It was Ethel Waters', and the older star's resentment of Horne during the making of the groundbreaking film "Cabin in the Sky" would presage Horne's own iciness years later toward younger singer-actresses like Diahann Carroll.

Although Horne was born and raised in a middle-class family, her early life was no walk in the park. Her mother was an actress who frequently left Lena to be raised by her grandparents. At school, she was taunted by other black kids for the lightness of her skin. "In her first memoir," Gavin writes, "Horne recalled their abuse. 'Yaller! Yaller!' they chanted. 'Got a white daddy! Shame! Shame!' " Gavin tells us she tried to darken her skin by spending time in the sun, but she also felt self-conscious about the way she talked: "At her grandmother's home, to use anything but textbook English was grounds for punishments. But [other African Americans] talked in thick southern accents, using Negro dialect. A confusion overtook her that she never quite lost." MORE
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