Blacks & Books
Showcasing and appreciating high quality fiction, story collections, poetry and plays written by authors of African descent.
Blacks & Books
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Saint Monkey
Jacinda Townsend 
ISBN 0393080048
Fourteen-year-old Audrey Martin, with her Poindexter glasses and her head humming the 3/4 meter of gospel music, knows she ll never get out of Kentucky but when her fingers touch the piano keys, the whole church trembles. Her best friend, Caroline, daydreams about Hollywood stardom, but both girls feel destined to languish in a slow-moving stopover town in Montgomery County. That is, until chance intervenes and a booking agent offers Audrey a ticket to join the booming jazz scene in Harlem an offer she can t resist, not even for Caroline. And in New York City the music never stops. Audrey flirts with love and takes the stage at the Apollo, with its fast-dancing crowds and blinding lights. But fortunes can turn fast in the city young talent means tough competition, and for Audrey failure is always one step away. Meanwhile, Caroline sinks into the quiet anguish of a Black woman in a backwards country, where her ambitions and desires only slip further out of reach.Jacinda Townsend s remarkable first novel is a coming-of-age story made at once gripping and poignant by the wild energy of the Jazz Era and the stark realities of segregation. Marrying musical prose with lyric vernacular, Saint Monkey delivers a stirring portrait of American storytelling and marks the appearance of an auspicious new voice in literary fiction.”
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Red Now and Laters
Marcus J. Guillory
ISBN 1451699115
Go deep into the heart of 1980s Texan Creole culture in this vivid, visceral novel about a gifted boy who comes of age at the crossroads of privilege and poverty, life and death.Meet Ti John, a young boy growing up in Houston in the 1980s, the decade of Reaganomics, disco music, and the candy of choice - red Now and Laters. Raised in a Black Creole family by a voodoo-practicing father and strict Catholic mother, he is blessed with a special gift: spiritual healing. On a regular basis, a deceased ancestor visits Ti John, announcing himself with the smell of smoke and serving as a spiritual guide.But the community Ti John belongs to isn’t easy. It turned from white and middle class to black and poor after the oil bubble burst in the 1960s, and the flood of 1977 sealed its current fate as a ghetto. Ti John struggles to remain an ordinary kid, but even with a rodeo-star father he idolizes, an overprotective mother who forbids him to play with the neighborhood “hoodlums,” and the help of supernatural guides, nothing can shield Ti John from the rough side of inner-city life. He witnesses violence and death, gets his heart broken by girls, feels the anger of his own embittered father, struggles to live up to his mother’s middle-class aspirations - all while trying to become the man he’s expected to be. Will Ti John fall prey to the bad side of life - or will he recognize and hold on to the good?Multilayered and multigenerational, this tremendous literary debut breathes new life into the coming-of-age novel. Red Now and Laters is a poignant and uniquely American story, as memorable and flavorful as the candy itself.
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Bedrock Faith
Eric Charles May 
ISBN 1617751960
After fourteen years in prison, Gerald “Stew Pot” Reeves, age thirty-one, returns home to live with his mom in Parkland, a black middle-class neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. A frightening delinquent before being sent away (his infamies included butchering a neighbor’s cat, torching another neighbor’s garage, and terrorizing the locals with a scary pit bull named Hitler), his return sends Parkland residents into a religiously infused tailspin, which only increases when Stew Pot announces that he experienced a religious awakening in prison. Most neighbors are skeptical of this claim, with one notable exception: Mrs. Motley, a widowed retiree and the Reeves’s next-door neighbor who loans Stew Pot a Bible, which is seen by Stew Pot and many in the community as a friendly gesture.With uncompromising fervor (and with a new pit bull named John the Baptist), Stew Pot appoints himself the moral judge of Parkland. He discovers that a woman on his block is a lesbian and outs her to the neighborhood, the first battle in an escalating war of wills with immediate neighbors: after a mild threat from the block club president, Stew Pot reveals a secret that leaves the president’s marriage in ruin; after catching a woman from across the street snooping around his backyard, Stew Pot commits an act of intimidation that leads directly to her death.Stew Pot’s prison mentor, an African American albino named Brother Crown, is released from prison not long after and moves in with Stew Pot and his mom. His plan is to go on a revival tour, with Stew Pot as his assistant. One night, as Stew Pot, Mrs. Reeves, and Brother Crown are witnessing around the neighborhood, a teenager from the block attempts to burn down the Reeves home. He botches the job and instead sets fire to Mrs. Motley’s house. She is just barely rescued, but her house is a total loss and she moves in with a nearby family. Neighbors are sure Stew Pot is behind the fire. The retaliations against Stew Pot continue, sending him over an emotional ledge as his life spirals out of control with grave consequences. Through the unforgettable characters of Stew Pot and Mrs. Motley, the novel provides a reflection on God, the living and the dead, and the possibilities of finding love without reservation.
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Pointe
Brandy Colbert
ISBN 0399160345

Theo is better now.She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.
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Forty Acres: A Thriller
Dwayne Alexander Smith
ISBN 1476730539
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’ve 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.
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The Galaxy Game
Karen Lord
ISBN 0345534077
For years, Rafi Delarua saw his family suffer under his father’s unethical use of psionic power. Now the government has Rafi under close watch, but, hating their crude attempts to analyse his brain, he escapes to the planet Punartam, where his abilities are the norm, not the exception. Punartam is also the centre for his favourite sport, wallrunning - and thanks to his best friend, he has found a way to train with the elite. But Rafi soon realises he’s playing quite a different game, for the galaxy is changing; unrest is spreading and the Zhinuvian cartels are plotting, making the stars a far more dangerous place to aim. There may yet be one solution - involving interstellar travel, galactic power and the love of a beautiful game.
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One Day When I Was Lost
James Baldwin
ISBN 0307275949
Based on Alex Haley’s bestselling classic The Autobiography of Malcolm X, a rare, lucidly composed screenplay from one of America’s great masters of letters.Son of a Baptist minister; New York City hustler; honor student; convicted criminal; powerful minister in the Nation of Islam; father and husband: Malcolm X transformed himself, time and again, in order to become one of the most feared, loved, and undeniably charismatic leaders of twentieth-century America. No one better represents the tumultuous times of his generation, and there is no one better to capture him and his milieu than James Baldwin. With spare, elegant, yet forceful dialogue and fresh, precise camera directions, Baldwin breathes cinematic life into this controversial and important figure, offering a new look at a man who changed himself in order to change the country.
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The Great Greene Heist
Varian Johnson
ISBN 0545525527
Saving the school — one con at a time.Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz…. But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good.Then Keith Sinclair — loser of the Blitz — announces he’s running for school president, against Jackson’s former best friend Gaby de la Cruz. Gaby hasn’t talked to Jackson since the PDA, and he knows she won’t welcome his involvement. But he also knows Keith has “connections” to the principal, which could win him the election whatever the vote count. So Jackson assembles a crack team to ensure the election is done right: Hashemi Larijani, tech genius. Victor Cho, bankroll. Megan Feldman, science goddess and cheerleader. Charlie de la Cruz, point man. Together they devise a plan that will bring Keith down once and for all. Yet as Jackson draws closer to Gaby again, he realizes the election isn’t the only thing he wants to win.
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Team Seven: A Novel
Marcus Burke 
ISBN 0385537794
Wildly popular films from the crime dramas Menace II Society and New Jack City to the comedies Friday and Barbershop have portrayed the realities of black inner-city life with honesty, empathy, and strong plotting. So why are there so few parallel examples to be found in contemporary American fiction? Into that embarrassing vacuum steps Marcus Burke with this literarily accomplished, autobiographically tinged coming-of-age/family drama with an undeniably authentic feel for place and language, and character.Set in the town of Milton south of Boston, Team Seven follows young Andre Battel from age eight through his teenage years as he grows away from his Jamaican family, discovers genuine prowess on the basketball court, and eventually falls into a routine of dealing drugs for the local street gang, Team Seven. This drug connection will have potentially dire and violent consequences for Andre and his crew when he falls behind on his payments, leading to an action-packed climax. The story is told primarily through Andre’s voice, but we also see things through the voices and points of view of his mother Ruby, a hard-working medical secretary, his older sister Nina, his mostly not-there-/usually-drunk-and-high father Eddie, a halfhearted reggae musician, and Reggie and Smoke, the kingpins of competing drug crews. What emerges is a rich portrait of a black family, a black community, and one young boy/man poised between youthful innocence and ambiguous experience.
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Between Now and Then
Leslie Lee 
ISBN 9780573619113
This drama is about the Tates, a middle class Black family living in the suburbs. Denny owns his own construction business. He has definite ideas about how his children should conduct their lives particularly, his sons. Much of this is a reaction against his own upbringing, as his father was not around very much. We learn about Denny’s relationship with his father in a series of scenes between the two men which occur in Denny’s mind, since his father is deceased. Eventually, Denny realizes that he must find a happy medium, neither laissez faire nor authoritarian, which will allow his children to go their own ways in life. Between Now and Then was a hit with audiences at Brooklyn’s Billie Holiday Theatre.