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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     

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I couldn't decide if this post should go here or in "looking for a book" but as this is not about a particular book, I thought it fitting to ask here.

 

As many of you know, I work in a bookshoppe (love the spelling:mrgreen:). We are very mainstream and pretty up to the moment with most genre. There is, however, one genre that we have ignored. Its the Black authors. We have some really trite and disgusting books written by Zane (porn between book covers) and other derogatory books with such catchy titles as The Bitch Is Back:roll: Honest, I lie to you not. There really is nothing of substance and it is very grievous to me. Being a Black woman of some intelligence it really :D me off because I KNOW there have got to be more substantial Black authors out there.

 

I've convinced the store manager to bring in a more varied variety of books by Black authors. We have Toni Morrison and Zora Neal Hurston, etc, but I am looking for other genres that can meet the needs of a more diverse reader whose not into gang banging and perverse sex.

 

Do you know of any Black authors across the pond that may be of interest?

Edited by Echo

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I believe Toni Morrison wrote about a father molesting his daughter in The Bluest Eye. If that's not perverse, then what is? Some of the world classics, written by Caucasian people, include sex, in all perverseness or not. And still they're classics.

 

What I'm saying is that I would've had much more to actually say in this thread were I not so confused about the sex thing. I'm sure there are Black people who write books about things which do not include sex, but if the real issue is to avoid sex altogether than maybe one shouldn't include Toni Morrison and should just stick to Christian novels?

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I wouldn't even know whether a lot of my authors were black or white. :D I had the brilliant idea of checking the gallery of my LibraryThing account, where you can see photos of all the authors in your collection. Here's what I've come up with:

 

Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart (classic African novel)

Malorie Blackman: Noughts & Crosses (young adult dystopian series)

ER Braithwaite: To Sir, With Love (one of my favourite movies!)

Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man

Arundhati Roy: The God of Small Things

 

And I don't have any by this author, but I've heard good things about her books:

 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun

 

I hope this helps!

 

ETA: in light of Frankie's comments, I should probably point out that all of the books I've mentioned are on my TBR pile, so I can't actually account for levels of sex in any of them. I'm sure the Blackman books would be fine, as they're young adult, and To Sir, With Love would be fine, but I don't know enough about the others to safely vouch for them.

Edited by Kylie

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Frankie, I guess I do need to clarify. Its not sex per se, its that these books (google Zane) are ONLY sex, not plot no sustanance, just sex for sex sack. There is a genre specifically for that, but these books are being passed off as "literature" which its most definately not. These are books about sex and nothing else, only about how many, what variation and so on, porn.

 

Toni Morrison wrote about a "life situation" it has a plot, her writing is rich and has depth. If sex is in there its not the main focus of the book, just a side which allows us to see the problem of incest.

 

 

What I described above seems to be the norm for books written by and for Black readers.

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No, I quite understood what you meant, I just didn't understand why you would feel the need to underline the fact that you are not looking for pornographic literature. I'm sure none of us woud've suggested anything like that in the first place.

 

I suppose, answering the actual question, you could include Alice Walker in your bookhelves.

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Katrina, I've gone ahead and moved this to the Looking For a Book section. :D

 

I second the suggestions of Ralph Ellison and Alice Walker. It's disappointing to have one whole population of authors misrepresented like that. You could probably do a search on Amazon for world literature and African American literature and come up with some great ones.

 

I would also suggest these authors:

 

Harriet E. Wilson (She wrote Our Nig...the first book to be published by an African American, and it's great! I think I wrote a review...if it's not on the forum, it's on the reviews blog.)

Frederick Douglass

Other slave narratives (there are a ton) are an important addition.

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Ben Okri has written some fabulous books, his most famous being the Booker Prize winning 'The Famished Road'. I love his 'Astonishing The Gods' and would recommend the book to anyone, it is beautiful.

VS Naipaul is of Indo-Trinidadian descent and has written a vast number of books. His 'A House For Mr Biswas' is described as "Heartrending and darkly comic".

I will second Chinua Achebe, having read and enjoyed his 'Things Fall Apart' many years ago.

Mike Gayle is a former Agony Uncle who has gone on to have a successful career in fiction writing. His books focus mainly on the comedic in relationships.

 

I can't think of any more at the moment, these were off the top of my head!

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Thanks Kylie, Echo and Chrissy:) I have many of these authors on the shelves already. I guess what I'm looking for is something more "rounded"? You know, different genres like Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction (not necessarily Civil War or Civil Rights) Mystery. Most books that I have found tend to be either Inspirational or what at best, would be called "light" reading that are pretty much urban street reading. I just KNOW there are more mainstream Black contemporary authors out there!:D

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There are, but to be honest I have no idea a lot of the time what colour skin the author of a book I'm reading has. You can be pretty sure with some of them (Tolkein, CS Lewis, JK Rowling etc), because I have seen them in publicity shots, on television etc., but unless someone's name suggests non-white origins I wouldn't really know, nor even contemplate it.

 

Just give me the words - that's all I care about! :D

 

I will ponder this further, and take a look behind some of the books I've read and see who wrote them, and in the meantime will actually do a few UK searches for authors I haven't read but who are considered mainstream.

 

ETA Just found this article on the bbc website 'Black British Literature Since Windrush'.

 

Just in case you're not aware,

The steamship Empire Windrush brought the first generation of migrant workers from the Caribbean to England, and therefore played an integral part in the origins of multi-cultural Britain.
Edited by Chrissy

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Thanks Chrissy! Just so you all understand why I am searching its like this. I live in the South and many things that most people take for granted arent always available here. We NEVER had black authors in this bookshoppe till recently, as in within the last 3 years. Unfortunately, the only types of books brought into the store were the types of books I first discribed. No REAL literature. The store buyer bought anything that had Blacks on the cover and shoved them into one bookshelf. I understand her desire for bringing in the books but its frustrating that these are the ONLY books she thinks we want to read:blush:

 

I would not have raised a stink about it with her except that its very obvious. Since she isnt inclined to move ALL the books into the mainstream of the bookstore (we have a bookshelf called "urban fiction") with all the other authors, its imperative that I get good quality books in here as our young women of color are only exposed to the rubbish. Just think your raunchiest MTV video vixon and thats what we offer these girls:motz:

 

Until I can convince her to mainstream all the Black authors into the bookshoppe, its my goal to improve and expand the quality of books we offer, especially as its so "in your face".

 

I am like you Chrissy, I just want a good book and dont think about the color of the author but as its unavoidable, I want to put the best we have out there on my shelves.

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I think it's a fine line to tread, and can easily tip in good or bad directions.

 

It's a similar thing to having Women Writers sections. It should just be about writers and words, not their gender or race or faith etc.

 

But I'm talking ideal world here, and I do see that you want to make sure if someone is choosing a book based on the author's ethnic origins, you want to make sure they get a good range from which to choose, not just one type of writing.

 

Wikipedia has a listing of African American Authors that might help you in your quest. They are listed alphabetically, and as Zane begins with Z she is listed right at the bottom, so you can avoid her! :D

 

As an aside, have you read Ben Okri's 'Astonishing The Gods'? I do recommend it, it is a beautifully written book.

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Hehehe! Yeah, I'd LOVE to avoid her at ALL costs!:D I dont know, maybe I'm just a prude, but I just dont like those books, they are so unrealistic and tends to make women more prone to compare their mates to some imaginary stud that has no soul, just a penise. Its sad. I hate to think about how many women are having unsatisfying relationships because they think its suppose to be that way. I used to read Harlequin Romance novels and I found myself looking at my hubby and think "why arent YOU like that"?:D

 

Yeah, I figure if we HAVE to have a separate area for Black authors, I want them to have CHOICES.

 

Wednseday, a mother came into the store irate because she had found a book that her daughter had special ordered from us. I have seen this young girl in MANY times and I have actually questioned her to make sure she knew what type of books she was buying. She was ordering alot of gay (not lesbian) erotica (aka porn) books and she was buying alot of the more salacious erotica books. I had asked her at one point how old she was. She was 16. I had tried to direct her to more appropriate books but hey, I can only suggest so I know my limitations. But this is a small town and I had seen her parents a few times and thought, they cant possibly know what kind of books this girl is reading.

 

Sure enough, they didnt. And they were NOT happy. I wanted to say something to her mother long ago but there is that fine line and most times she just ordered and they picked up without looking at the cover of the book. Well, after Wednesday's blow up, her reading will be monitored by her parents. She's sixteen, still in school and living off her parents. They purchase her books so they will be watching what comes into their home. I feel bad for the girl but honestly, I would feel the same way if I found that in my home.

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Well, at least they take an interest in her reading!

 

I think that too many publishers take the short route to making money, and so all some of them see is the definitions of young white female = chicklit, middle aged white female = historical fiction, older white male = tortured souls/men-o-pause or crime novels, black female = slavery /abuse novel, black (young) male = urban novel.

 

Because of this blinkered world view with some agents and publishers, JK Rowling used her initials in order to get her magical first book read by a publisher, attempting to avoid the difficulties of being a woman writing outside of 'her genre'. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to be a young African American male to want to publish a mushy love story, or a black woman to write a chicklit novel of fluffiness.

 

There will always be exceptions to the rule (hurray!), but just by book shops making definitions in this way to meet demand suggests that the boxes are getting smaller.

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Its taken two years of nagging but I am seeing headway. Actually, I was mainstreaming some books anyway because they didnt belong where the were housed. We have an Inspirational section and I was more than a mite pissed when I realised that the manager had been putting all the Inspirational books by Black writers on the same shelves as Zane and Wahilda Clark. Blasphame!:D I mean, if you have an Inspirational section than ALL books that are Inspiration (no matter WHAT color the author is) should be housed together. I patiently explained to her that Christian women would not want to go digging for their favorite Christian author in the urban fiction section. I asked, "if one of the Bibles was written by a Black person, would you stick it in the urban fiction"? She finally got the point.

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A girl who's already 16 stills needs to be monitored for what she's reading? I cannot believe it. I was always able to read whatever I wanted and I grew out just fine. I would also let my children read whatever they wanted, I would just say to them that if they thought something they're reading is making them anxious they should try reading something else, and if they have any questions about the books I'd be happy to talk with them about it.

 

I know I would've been enraged if my parents would have prohibited me from reading whatever I wanted. I would've kept reading in secret. I think it's great that parents are interested in what their children are up to but monitoring their reading is just plain censorship in my opinion.

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I guess thats where we differ. My children's reading was always monitored. Somethings they just dont need to be exposed to at an early age. And there is also the fact that if the girl is getting her money from her parents and purchasing books they dont want in their home, they have every right to say so. When you are living on your own, do as you please because you are responsible for your actions.

 

Every child is not ready for certain material. Children do mature at a different rate. My children know what we will and wont allow in our homes they either abide or find a new home. Now mind you, our children are now young adults and we have a 14 year old. We dont keep them sheltered but if we have a certain standard for our household then thats what it is. We are not tyrants but we have a line drawn, we are the parents, we are responsible for your well being and so we will lay down the ground rules that just wont be broken. In many things we are lenient but there it is.

 

I would not have told my children they couldnt read Harry Potter or Twilight wither I liked them or not, but for them to be under age and reading porn, its another story.

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Yes I think we have to agree to disagree, and from now on I'll try and show more respect towards the actual question which was to find a greater variety of African-American authors and their novels :D

 

I think you've received some great suggestions already and Chrissy was kind enough to include that list on African-American authors on Wikipedia. I would also suggest Alex Haley's Roots which I believe to be a classic. I'll see if I can come up with further suggestions.

 

Edit: How did I forget Zadie Smith?

Edited by frankie

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Funny you should mention Alex Haley! First and unfortunately, his book is out of print (go figure) and secondly, I have found, during some geneology searching of my family, it appears that Alex Haley's ancestor, Kunta Kente, was on the same plantation as my ancestors, I'm still searching to find if we may be distantly related.

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I was pondering (off topic) while I was walking my dog that the 16 year old is probably exploring her sexuality through her reading, and although one would want her to have empowering and loving texts from which to glean 'stuff', exploring through her reading is not so terrible, even if the material is pretty dire.

 

I read so many different types of books in my pre teen and teen years, many if which would probably have horrified my parents.

 

From some of the worst books I honed my moral compass, and was able to explore the whys, wherefores, whats and with whoms that come along with increased intimacy with others, but did that within the safe confines of a book.

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What you say does make sense Chrissy, but speaking as one whose gone through it with our own teens/young adults, I just cant let any and everything come through our door even in the form of a book. For the type of stuff I have seen in the bookstore, if it were on cable, it would be on an adult channel. I'm not talking about teen angst and exploration, but hard core porn. A person can go to jail for giving a minor pornographic material be it literature or video. I would have to ask myself, if this were a VIDEO, would I allow my minor children to view it? No for a few reasons, its morally wrong, its damaging to the child and its illegal. Once these things are in our minds, they stay there. I know, I've watched and read the material as a young adult and the visuals would pop up and it was disturbing. They may find it somewhere else but that doesnt mean I have to hand it to them gift wrapped.:D

 

I asked my liberal 19 year old daughter what she thought on the subject (she's married and is having her second child) her opinions, if she would monitor her sons reading and such and she was empathetic in her answer, YES! Now this same daughter wanted tattoos and piercing at 16 but it wasnt allowed. She got them but it was AFTER she left the confines of her family home, to live on her own. She knew how we felt but had respect enough to wait til she was in her own establishment. Its her tat and piercing and its her body but until said body had a home of its own, she had been raised to respect the rules of the house.

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I'm browsing through my copy of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and here's what I've found:

 

Olaudah Equiano: The Interesting Narrative

Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man

James Baldwin: Go Tell It on the Mountain

James Baldwin Giovanni's Room

Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe: Arrow of God

Ngugi wa Thiong'o: The River Between

Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Matigari

Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Zakes Mda: The Heart of Redness

These were the ones with pictures of the author on the page, I can't tell ethnicity by name only.

Edited by frankie

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Thanks Frankie,

 

I do know for a fact that we have The Invisible Man, a book club is reading it. I havent had a chance to read the blurb on it though. Now that I think about it some of these books ARE in the store but they are so deeply hidden that they might need to be dusted off. I think I'll start pulling them and placing them on shelves of promenance. I really hope that in a few years, we wont need that shelf and then everything can be strictly, fiction, sci-fi, classic, nonfiction, etc..:D

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Can I tentatively ask that this thread, being (appropriately, given the original question) placed in the 'Looking For A Book' section, now stay exclusively on topic? The reason behind the original question has been explained and no more discussion on such matters is really appropriate in this forum.

 

To be honest, it's just that some of the posts in this thread are more suited to a Mature Discussion Forum thread, it's a little tense in here. Thanks guys :D

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Although I personally haven't liked all of her books, I did really enjoy My Best Friends Girl by Dorothy Koomson. I think they're probably marketed as chick-lit, and although they're probably aimed at women, but they actually have a story to them rather than just a out and out romance. There is a thread here with some discussion on her books.

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