American Presidential Book Club
African American Books and Writings
One thing that keeps readers coming back for more is the fact that many Brenda Jackson books are written in serial form. The Madaris family series is one of the most extensive and best selling of all of Jackonson’s series. It all began with the publication of Tonight and Forever in 1995. In Tonight and Forever, the protagonist Lorren Jacobs experiences a bitter divorce and decides to leave her home in California to return to her roots in Texas. Although Lorren promised herself that she would never love a man again, all of that begins to melt away when she meets Justin Madaris, a physician and a widower.
Tonight and Forever is just the beginning of a series that now totals over a dozen books. If Brenda Jackson continues to churn out her signature works at her current breakneck speed, she will surely continue to feed her reader’s appetite for the Madaris family series. In fact, Brenda Jackson books have become so popular that there are now events scheduled specifically for readers of certain series. In 2011, for example, there will be a cruise and beach party for lovers of the Madaris family series and the Westmoreland series.
One thing is for sure: Brenda Jackson books have readers hooked. And she is writing at a pace that continues to fill the appetites of her devotees. Brenda Jackson has been writing feverishly for nearly two decades and there is good news for her readers: she doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.
Black Authors Create Relationship Books About More than Just Romance
Relationships Are Cornerstone of Life
Many would say that relationships, or the connections we make with others, are the foundation of human existence. As a result, many authors of both fiction and non-fiction explore the ways that relationships form, the reasons that they exist, and the steps to maintaining healthy relationships and moving beyond unhealthy ones. Black author relationship books add depth to one’s understanding of relationships because their work focuses not only of the relationships that exist within a subculture but also on the relationships that exist between blacks and surrounding white society. Enjoying and exploring black authors’ insights about relationships will bring readers greater knowledge about the relationships that they have with individuals and themselves.
Hurston Explores “Blacklove”
Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston’s life speaks volumes about the relationship between a black author and her audience. Originally criticized for her use of black dialect and the lack of politics in her writing, Hurston died in relative obscurity and was buried in an un-marked grave. Decades later, black author of Pulitzer Prize-winning The Color Purple, Alice Walker revived Hurston’s work. Hurston’s most celebrated book Their Eyes Were Watching God examines the life of ficitonal Florida resident Janie Crawford, who has had three husbands and is accused of murdering one of them. Black author and professor June Jordan calls Their Eyes Were Watching God “the most successful, convincing, and exemplary novel of Blacklove that we have.”
Walker Finds Herself
The aforementioned black author Alice Walker has created a wealth of books about romantic relationships, spiritual relationships and political relationships. Her famous essay “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens” completes the list by exploring Walker’s relationship with herself as an individual. Other empowering, relationship-focused writing by Walker includes the novels In Love and Trouble, You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down and The Way Forward is with a Broken Heart. Contemporary writing by Walker is available via the blog that appears on Walker’s personal website Alice Walker’s Garden.
Black Male Authors Offer a New Perspective
Finally, black men present a less literary, more practical approach to cultivating healthy relationships. Black comedian Steve Harvey offer readers the book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, a humorous and insightful step-by-step guide to cultivating healthy, rewarding relationships. On a similar but slightly more serious note, Hill Harper has created The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build Trusting Relationships. A childhood friend of President Barack Obama, Harper allows observations of the marriage between Obama and his wife Michelle to fuel the book.
For many years, African American readers had a hard time finding romance novels that were easy to connect with. With Fabio on the cover locked in an embrace with some thin, flushed blonde and a cast of characters in the book that were predominantly white, there were few chances for black readers to identify with the people in these books. This is a problem as understanding and identifying with a character is an important part of enjoying a novel especially a romance novel.
In the past twenty years, the romance novel genre has opened up a great deal and offers titles that appeal to people of a number of different backgrounds, but particularly to black readers. Some people believe that it was Terry MacMillan’s novel Waiting to Exhale, which was published in 1992, that really began the genre of black romance novels. Waiting to Exhale was so successful, in fact, that it was turned into a major motion picture starring famous actors and actresses including Angela Basset, Whitney Houston, Loretta Devine, Gregory Hines, Dennis Haysbert and others.
Since 1992, scores of other black romance novels have been published. Some publishing companies have even developed imprints specifically for this genre. Kimani Press Arabesque, for example, is an imprint of Harlequin Books, which has been a publisher of romance novels for over sixty years. The authors from Kimani Press Arabesque are all African Americans who write romance novels. Authors on this list include Brenda Jackson, Donna Hill, Rochelle Alers, Beverly Jenkins, and many others. In addition to selling physical books, Kimani Press Arabesque also distributed black romance novels as e-books.
“The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway & The Slave’s Civil War”
by David S. Cecelski (2012)
“Abraham H. Galloway (1837-1870) was a firry young slave rebel, radical abolitionist, and Union spy who rose out of bondage to become one of the most significant and stirring black leaders in the South during the Civil War.
“Throughout his brief, mercurial life, Galloway fought against slavery and injustice. He risked his life behind enemy lines, recruited black soldiers for the North, and fought racism in the Union army’s ranks.
“He also stood at the forefront of an African American political movement that flourished in the Union-occupied parts of North Carolina, even leading a historic delegation of black southerners to the White House to meet with President Lincoln and to demand the full rights of citizenship. He later became one of the first black men elected to the North Carolina legislature.
“Long hidden from history, Galloway’s story reveals a war unfamiliar to most of us. As David Cecelski writes, ‘Galloway’s Civil War was a slave insurgency, a war of liberation that was the culmination of generations of perseverance and faith.’
“This riveting portrait illuminates Galloway’s life and deepens our insight into the Civil War and Reconstruction as experienced by African Americans in the South.”
from front flap of book
The sequel to Waiting To Exhale released last month and has been selling well. (Getting To Happy). I recently had a chance to meet Victoria Rowell (The women Who Raised Me)at a charity event. This is a terrific read and she is a wonderful lady.
I’ll have to check it out, Rose. It sounds interesting. You met Victoria Rowell? Wow!
Please stay alert for a series of post on some of our FIERCE ANGELS.
FIERCE ANGELS? So…….what’s that all about?
The series will be based on the book Fierce Angels, by Sherir Parks.
The book explores the journeys of Black women. Powerful read, and I’d highly recommend it.