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African-American Authors

Readers' Cafe

An American Marriage
Better Late Than Never
Black Deutschland
Charcoal Joe
Citizens Creek
Difficult Women
The Fifth Season
Finding Gideon
I Almost Forgot About You
Influence
Kindred
The Last Confession
Seeking Sarah
Sing, Unburied, Sing
The Sellout
The Underground Railroad
We Are Taking Only What We Need
What We Lose
An American Marriage / Tayari Jones

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn't commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy's time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy's conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward--with hope and pain--into the future.

Better Late Than Never / Kimberla Lawson Roby

The past never stays where it belongs...

Curtis Black is no stranger to scandal. Throughout the decades, he has done much in the public eye, both good and evil. But what most people don't realize is that Curtis has been hiding a horrific childhood that has affected him in countless, unspeakable ways.

His buried past returns in an unwelcome visit when his estranged sister becomes alarmingly ill and his youngest child, twelve-year-old Curtina, becomes the kind of problem daughter that he never imagined she could be. This is only the beginning. The horror of Curtis's childhood secrets, as well as Curtina's wild and rebellious behavior, takes a critical toll on Curtis and the entire Black family. All the public scandals they've experienced over the years now seem like child's play compared to the turmoil they are facing in private. Who could have known that the deepest wounds would come from within?

Email: kim@kimroby.com
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Black Deutschland / Darryl Pinckney

Jed--young, gay, black, out of rehab and out of prospects in his hometown of Chicago--flees to the city of his fantasies, a museum of modernism and decadence: Berlin. The paradise that tyranny created, the subsidized city isolated behind the Berlin Wall, is where he's chosen to become the figure that he so admires, the black American expatriate. Newly sober and nostalgic for the Weimar days of Isherwood and Auden, Jed arrives to chase boys and to escape from what it means to be a black male in America.

But history, both personal and political, can't be avoided with time or distance. Whether it's the judgment of the cousin he grew up with and her husband's bourgeois German family, the lure of white wine in a down-and-out bar, a gang of racists looking for a brawl, or the ravaged visage of Rock Hudson flashing behind the face of every white boy he desperately longs for, the past never stays past even in faraway Berlin. In the age of Reagan and AIDS in a city on the verge of tearing down its walls, he clambers toward some semblance of adulthood amid the outcasts and expats, intellectuals and artists, queers and misfits. And, on occasion, the city keeps its Isherwood promises and the boy he kisses, incredibly, kisses him back.

An intoxicating, provocative novel of appetite, identity, and self-construction, Darryl Pinckney's Black Deutschland tells the story of an outsider, trapped between a painful past and a tenebrous future, in Europe's brightest and darkest city.

Charcoal Joe / Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley's indelible detective Easy Rawlins is back, with a new detective agency and a new mystery to solve.

Picking up where his last adventures in Rose Gold left off in L.A. in the late 1960s, Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins finds his life in transition. He's ready - finally - to propose to his girlfriend, Bonnie Shay, and start a life together. And he's taken the money he got from the Rose Gold case and, together with two partners, Saul Lynx and Tinsford "Whisper" Natly, has started a new detective agency. But, inevitably, a case gets in the way: Easy's friend Mouse introduces him to Rufus Tyler, a very old man everyone calls Charcoal Joe. Joe's friend's son, Seymour (young, bright, top of his class in physics at Stanford) , has been arrested and charged with the murder of a white man from Redondo Beach. Joe tells Easy he will pay and pay well to see this young man exonerated, but seeing as how Seymour literally was found standing over the man's dead body at his cabin home, and considering the racially charged motives seemingly behind the murder, that might prove to be a tall order.
Between his new company, a heart that should be broken but is not, a whole raft of new bad guys on his tail, and a bad odor that surrounds Charcoal Joe, Easy has his hands full, his horizons askew, and his life in shambles around his feet.

Citizens Creek / Lalita Tademy

The New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club Pick Cane River brings us the evocative story of a once-enslaved man who buys his freedom after serving as a translator during the American Indian Wars, and his granddaughter, who sustains his legacy of courage. Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama in 1810 and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, and Indians, settlers, and blacks came into constant contact, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. His talent earned him money - but would it also grant him freedom? And what would become of him and his family in the aftermath of the Civil War and the Indian Removal westward? Cow Tom's legacy lives on - especially in the courageous spirit of his granddaughter Rose.

Difficult Women / Roxane Gay

Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State and the New York Times bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist . Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection.

The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister's marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls' fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.

The Fifth Season / N. K. Jemisin

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries. But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes--those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon--are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back. She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

Finding Gideon / Eric Jerome Dickey

Neither?Gideon?nor the city of Buenos Aires has recovered from the mayhem caused during?Gideon's?last job. But before the dust has settled and the bodies have been buried,?Gideon?calls in backup--including the lovely Hawks, with whom?Gideon?has heated memories--to launch his biggest act of revenge yet,?one he believes will destroy his adversary, Midnight, once and for all. Yet Midnight and his second-in-command, the beautiful and ruthless Se?orita Raven, are launching their own revenge, assembling a team of mercenaries the likes of which the world has never seen. (Publishers summary)

I Almost Forgot About You / Terry Mcmillan

In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young's wonderful life--great friends, family, and successful career--aren't enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, including quitting her job as an optometrist and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. Georgia's bravery reminds us that it's never too late to become the person you want to be, and that taking chances, with your life and your heart, are always worthwhile.

Big-hearted, genuine, and universal, I Almost Forgot About You shows what can happen when you face your fears, take a chance, and open yourself up to life, love, and the possibility of a new direction. It's everything you've always loved about Terry McMillan.

Influence / CARL WEBER

When he graduates with his law degree, handsome and charismatic Langston Hudson is ready to hit the ground running as a lawyer with his family's firm, but a routine traffic stop during a night out with his friends quickly derails his plans and turns his world upside down. Langston and his friends are arrested after officers find half a million dollars' worth of drugs in his car.

When Jacqueline Hudson learns of her son's arrest, she immediately begins to build her case. She is one of the top lawyers in the country, with a reputation for being a shark in the courtrooms. She is confident that she will be able to get justice for her son - until she realizes that she will be going up against an old flame. She questions if this district attorney is allowing their personal history to interfere with the case at hand.

To complicate matters, Jacqueline discovers that her firm is being sued by a former secretary for sexual harassment and illegal termination. Her older son, Lamont, who is also a lawyer, has been using the law firm like a personal dating service for much too long, and his misbehavior might have finally caught up with him.

Desiree, Jacqueline's only daughter, is quite reserved compared to her siblings. She's the good girl who doesn't normally like to rock the boat, but in what could be considered the worst of all timing, she is falling for Perk. The problem is he's been an employee at the firm for so long that he's practically considered family. Given the problems her brothers are facing, now is not the right time for Desiree to introduce more drama to the family, but she just can't seem to help herself.

As if fighting for one son's freedom and fending off lawsuits against the other isn't enough pressure, Jacqueline is also in the middle of striking up a deal to run for governor. She knows how much is at stake if her family's drama spirals out of control, so she'll do everything within her power to keep it all together.

Kindred / Octavia E. Butler

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

The Last Confession / Solomon Jones

Having come of age on the mob-controlled streets of 1960?s South Philly, Detective Mike Coletti learned early to walk the fine line between cops and criminals. That skill served him well during his thirty-one years in homicide. But it never stopped the nightmares. The screams in the sanctuary still haunt him, the sound of the gunshots still torment him, and the truth of the Confessional Murders still speaks to him, if only in his dreams. Now, on the eve of Coletti?s retirement, the priest whom he arrested for the decade-old crime is about to be put to death, and in one final nightmare, Coletti clearly sees the truth. The priest is innocent, and it all comes to light when the real killer reemerges and embarks on a killing spree that turns Philadelphia upside down.

Seeking Sarah / ReShonda Tate Billingsley

From the national bestselling and award-winning ReShonda Tate Billingsley comes this gripping and emotional exploration of the complex bond between mother and daughter.

From the time Brooke Green was seven years old, she has lived with the pain of losing her mother. Her father has done the best job he could in raising her, but a piece of her always felt empty. On the day of her father's funeral, her grandmother breaks the shocking news: her mother, Sarah, is very much alive. She abandoned her family because she claimed she wasn't fit for motherhood. After doing some research, Brooke discovers her mother is living in Atlanta, enjoying a great career ... and a brand new family. Stunned, Brooke doesn't know if she wants answers or revenge against the mother who abandoned her. When she meets Sarah's husband, Tony, Brooke sees the perfect way to make her mother pay. But her plan for revenge just may leave everyone in danger, and end up costing Brooke more than she ever bargained for.

Sing, Unburied, Sing / JESMYN WARD

When the children's father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.?

The Sellout / Paul Beatty

A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality -- the black Chinese restaurant. Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens -- on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles -- the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: "I'd die in the same bedroom I'd grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that've been there since '68 quake.

The Underground Railroad / Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned - Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the underground railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

We Are Taking Only What We Need / Stephanie Powell Watts

In these powerfully rendered, prizewinning stories, working-class African Americans across the South strive for meaning and search for direction in lives shaped by forces beyond their control

The ten stories in this resonant collection deal with both the ties that bind and the gulf that separates generations, from children confronting the fallibility of their own parents for the first time to adults finding themselves forced to start over again and again.

In "Highway 18" a young Jehovah's Witness going door to door with an expert field-service partner from up north is at a crossroads: will she go to college or continue to serve the church? "If You Hit Randall County, You've Gone Too Far" tells of a family trying to make it through a tense celebratory dinner for a son just out on bail. And in the collection's title story, a young girl experiences loss for the first time in the fallout from her father's relationship with her babysitter.

Startling, intimate, and prescient on their own, these stories build to a kaleidoscopic understanding of both the individual and the collective black experience over the last fifty years in the American South. With We Are Taking Only What We Need, Stephanie Powell Watts has crafted an incredibly assured and emotionally affecting meditation on everything from the large institutional forces to the small interpersonal moments that impress upon us and direct our lives.

What We Lose / ZINZI CLEMMONS

Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother's childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor - someone, or something, to love.

In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi's life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood. Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss. An elegiac distillation, at once intellectual and visceral, of a young woman's understanding of absence and identity that spans continents and decades, What We Lose heralds the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction.

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