Literary Updates (moreso for me than you)

I feel like I’ve been removed from the black literary scene for a moment. I have no real clue about what’s new or what’s coming out. But as my reading routine picks up, I’m forced to constantly consider what I should read next. Some bookstores don’t segregate their books, so searching the shelves for the latest black releases can be a challenge. So, I searched a few of my favorite blogs and sites and came up with the following news and information.

Then again, what’s new to me might be old to the rest of you. I’ll try to throw in some extras to keep it interesting.

On [the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage] Caribbean cruise, McMillan announced what she originally vowed she would never do: write a sequel to Waiting to Exhale. She also gave fans in attendance — including actor/author Blair Underwood — a tasty treat by reading excerpts of the sequal, Getting to Happy [read an excerpt at Essence]. McMillan said she has spent the last decade and a half avoiding Waiting to Exhale like a contagious illness, despite the fact that throngs of her fans literally begged her to revisit the beloved characters. The award-winning writer said that when she relented and decided to do a sequel, she never felt she was competing against herself. “I don’t know as a writer that you can compete against yourself,” she says, draped in a lovely gown during the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage’s Pajama Night. “I never thought of it that way. Writing this book was purely happenstance. I, as everybody knows, have been through a lot since the first book. I realized that I wanted to tell a story of the women who are almost 50. The kids are almost gone or gone. And I wanted to know what it was like to have start your life over. Also, when you suffer from losses and women are betrayed” McMillan says of showing how her characters rebounded from that malady. One of the reasons McMillan never fathomed a sequel is because, quite frankly, she found the female characters in Waiting to Exhale quite nauseating. Release: September 2010 (Read more)

Before he died last year, Harris wrote this bangup first installment to a projected series about a bisexual owner of a Miami modeling agency. Bentley L. Dean III runs the Picture Perfect modeling agency in South Beach. His father, a homophobic Detroit millionaire, disowned him after he broke off an engagement and had an affair with a male TV sports reporter, and though the agency’s been a success, the recession has taken a big bite out of Bentley’s business. Strapped for cash, he reluctantly agrees to supply “gay, bi or very open-minded” eye candy for a VIP party hosted by Prosperity Gentleman’s Club, which is run by “Emperor” Seth Sinclair, a closeted gay celebrity. When Jah, an 18-year-old student Bentley’s been mentoring, covers for a no-show model and begins an affair with Seth, big trouble looms. Harris’s wry tale about second chances highlights what readers have long loved about his work: his ability to depict the pursuit of love and self-respect, regardless of societal and family pressures. Release: June 2010

Davidia Jones has never had it easy. The dark-skinned daughter of a beautiful, though alcoholic and abusive, mother, “Davie ” has always been an introverted “ugly duckling.” Fixated on the movie 16 Candles growing up, she dreams of a Hollywood happy ending for herself one day. When a high school prank goes too far, she flees to Los Angeles and changes her life. Now thirty-two, Davie’s transformed into a swan—a beautiful lounge singer. Her past is finally behind her, even as James Farrell, the football star who ignored her in high school, is back in her life. A sizzling romance ensues and James isn’t aware she’s the homely Davie from back home. But his sister Veronica is bent on exposing the secret and destroying her happiness for good.

Twenty-something Washington, D.C., insider Helena Andrews shares humorous essays about her personal and professional experiences—all which have come together to shape the woman she is today. There’s her post-grad school “Devil Wears Prada” experience working for a Manhattan interior designer and working at Politico during the Obama campaign. Plus, plenty of personal anecdotes about being raised by a lesbian single mother, and her own romantic life, including her first love, who has periodically stalked her since college with emails and phone calls and much more. Her story was so compelling, producer Shonda Rhimes optioned it for TV! You’ll love Andrews’ hilarious but heartfelt story of what being a “modern woman” means today.

Thirty-five-year-old Ida Wells Dunbar fought hard to get Obama elected, and now she’s left to piece together what “change” means in her own life. She’s relegated to the sidelines while her younger counterparts have overrun the West Wing; and now her father, an Atlanta civil rights icon, is being notoriously featured on an endlessly replayed YouTube clip filled with stinging words and myopic views contrary to the man who raised her. When she returns home to find out what’s going on, she runs into childhood friend and smooth political operator Wes Harper. Ida doesn’t trust Wes or his mysterious connections for one second, but she can’t deny her growing attraction to him. But she’ll soon have to face some painful truths….

In a sweeping epic set in the Jim Crow South, Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Era, writer Easter Venetta Bartlett carves out a tumultuous path to success, ruin and revival. Along the way, she forms relationships with interesting characters—both real and imagined. There’s Rain, the sensuous and passionate dancer in Slocum’s Traveling Brigade. There’s Colin, Easter’s husband, who’s provoked into assassinating the Universal Negro Improvement Association leader, plus poet Langston Hughes and shipping heiress Nancy Cunard. It’s a compelling tale of struggle and triumph as Easter vies to find peace in a racially polarized country, and an audacious exploration into the nature of self-hatred, love, possession, betrayal and redemption.

A 27-year-old Avery Lyons returns home to care for her mother when she and Avery’s uncle are involved in a serious car accident. Avery’s dismayed to find the Harlem of her childhood just isn’t the same—and that the dynamics of her dysfunctional extended family still are… Avery’s cousin, Dwight, will do anything to realize his father’s dream to build Dixon Plaza, a high-rise slated to go up on Central Park North. He’s got the will, and he’s got the means. But what he doesn’t have is Avery’s consent or cooperation. She’s also inherited a piece of the property, and she’s not willing to do anything more to compromise the integrity of the neighborhood. Then a family secret surfaces when a reporter uncovers the truth about some of the family’s shady dealings…. Will their already stretched-to-the-brink family ties survive the new wrinkle? Or will their real-estate empire crumble before their eyes?

Debut novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez presents a startling and original fictional tale, based on an actual resort that was open for only four years. Established in the mid 1800s, the Ohio-based Tawawa House was envisioned as a summer vacation destination for the country’s elite to relax and enjoy the mineral springs in the area. But what made this resort unusual was that it became a popular vacation destination for Southern slaveholders and their enslaved mistresses. Three of these women, regular visitors Lizzie, Reenie and Sweet, look forward to meeting up again every year for the opportunity to reconnect with each other and share the events of their lives. But for their own varied reasons, somehow the subject of freedom has never come up. Then one year the fiery Mawu joins their circle. Mawu’s determined to escape—and she’ll stop at nothing to gain her freedom. Eventually, she gets the others thinking of what life could be like if they weren’t enslaved, and the other women begin to work through their own reasons for not having already tried to win their freedom. When a fire sets off a string of tragedies, all the women’s lives will be irrevocably changed.

Through a series of fictional episodes set against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent years in modern history, Asim brings into pin-sharp focus how the tumultuous events of ’68 affected real people’s lives and shaped the country we live in today.  The sixteen connected stories in this exciting debut are set in the fictional Midwestern town of Gateway City, where second generation off-spring of the Great Migrators have pieced together a thriving, if fragile existence.  With police brutality on the rise, the civil rights movement gaining momentum, and wars raging at home and abroad, Asim has conjured a community that stands on edge.  But it is the individual struggles with love, childrearing, adolescence, etc, lyrically chronicled here, that create a piercing portrait of humanity.

I think that’s a good start. I hope you’ll agree. Happy reading, y’all.

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