2014 Hurston/Wright Awards Honor Giovanni, Buluwayo, Wilder, and Johnson

Nikki Giovanni received the 2014 Hurston/Wright North Star Award for her 45-year career as a social justice poet. - peoplewhowrite

Nikki Giovanni received the 2014 Hurston/Wright North Star Award for her 45-year career as a social justice poet.

Founded in 1990 by writer Marita Golden and historian Clyde McElvene, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation celebrated their 24th year supporting African-Americans in literature at an annual awards gala at the Carnegie Library in Washington, DC.

For her 45-year career promoting social justice through her poetry, the Foundation honored Nikki Giovanni with the North Star Award.  “She has been a determined witness and eloquent advocate of cultural change in America,” the judges said of their decision to fete the poet.

Fiction judges Dana Johnson, Tina McElroy Ansa, and A.J. Verdelle selected NoViolet Buluwayo’s debut We Need New Names for the Foundation’s Legacy Award. “We see NoViolet’s great characters, their entrapments, their miseries, their hungers and we also see ourselves,” they said. “It felt like an imperative read,” added Marita Golden, co-founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation.

Craig Steven Wilder’s Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities won the non-fiction prize, with judges Amy Alexander, Sheryll Cashin, and Fredrick C. Harris specifically calling out Wilder’s exposure of “the blood-soaked ties between slavery and high education and higher education in America.”

Amaud Jamaul Johnson’s poetry collection Darktown Follies was recognized for “balanc[ing] the false and ugly with the beauty and truths” of Black Vaudeville and minstrel shows.

“I think it is a great time to be a black writer,” Golden said, according to The Washington Post. “If a publisher says no, you can say, ‘Yes,’ and self-publish…..As long as there are cultural organizations like Hurston/Wright, as far as I’m concerned, the glass is not half full, but it is overflowing for black writers.”

Guardian First Book Award Shortlist Announced

NoViolet Buluwayo's "We Need New Names" is shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award - peoplewhowrite

NoViolet Buluwayo

UPDATE: Donal Ryan won Guardian‘s First Book Award on November 28, 2013.

NoViolet Buluwayo’s lauded debut We Need New Names has earned a spot on the Guardian First Book Award Shortlist, joining The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan, Sex and the Citadel by Shereen El Feki, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, and Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach in contention for the £10,000 prize. Buluwayo’s novel also made the Man Booker Shortlist; Ryan’s was longlisted.

Listen to Excerpts of the Man Booker Shortlist on iTunes

Man Booker Prize Shortlist on iTunes_peoplewhowrite

Now, free audio readings of the Man Booker Prize shortlist are available on iTunes along with author interviews. The dramatic performances take pains (sometimes with painful accents) to express the authors’ respective voices, and the interviews do a great job of piquing interest in the books. If only Man Booker/iTunes had included “Buy” buttons for full audio versions of the books! (If there aren’t audio versions, there should be and they should have been timed with the release of this podcast.) Another missed opportunity.

Check out the Man Booker Prize podcasts here.

Man Booker Shortlist Announced

NoViolet Buluwayo is the only debut novelist on the Shortlist for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. - peoplewhowrite

NoViolet Buluwayo

The list of contenders for the 2013 Man Booker Prize has been shortened once again, advancing toward the October 15th announcement of the winner of the £50,000 prize. Judges Robert MacFarlaneMartha KearneyStuart Kelly,Natalie Haynes, and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst whittled the list down from an initial 151, then edited even further to a Longlist of 13 before arriving at the final six. With content ranging from the Biblical Middle East to 1960s India to present-day Zimbabwe, the titles under consideration are so diverse it’s hard to guess which one the judges will find consensus around; but whom they land on could offer an interesting window to the literary establishment’s agenda.

NoViolet Bulawayo, author of the internationally acclaimed novel We Need New Names is now the only debutant on the prestigious list, while Eleanor Catton, at 28, still has the chance to be the youngest ever winner of the prize. If either of them win, it could signal — and lead to — increased support for debut and young talent.

Meanwhile, the honor is a first for author Jhumpa Lahiri who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel The Namesake as it is for novelist Ruth Ozeki and the multiple award-winning Jim Crace who, at 67, is the oldest on the 2013 Shortlist. Should either of them take the day, it would likely direct even more attention to their backlists and to the industry’s renewed interest in multicultural literature. 

If anyone has an edge, it’s author Colm Tóibín. With The Testament of Mary the third of his five books to make the shortlist, it’s safe to say Man Booker likes his work.

The full Shortlist is below:

We Need New Names NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto & Windus)
The Luminaries Eleanor Catton (Granta)
Harvest Jim Crace (Picador)
The Lowland Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)
A Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki (Canongate)
The Testament of Mary Colm Tóibín (Viking)

Three Debut Novelists-Buluwayo, Harris, Ryan-Longlisted for Man Booker Prize

NoViolet Buluwayo's debut novel "We Need New Names" has been Longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize - peoplewhowrite

NoViolet Buluwayo

The Man Booker Prize Longlist was announced today and it boasts three debut novelists–NoViolet Bulawayo, Eve Harris, and Donal Ryan–alongside celebrated literati like Jhumpa Lahiri and Colum McCann. The last time a first-time author earned the prize was 2008 when Aravind Adiga won for The White Tiger. The list is also internationally diverse highlighting stories by Malaysian scribe Tash Aw, New Zealander Eleanor Catton, and Canadian Ruth Ozeki among others. This follows a recent trend the NY Times pointed out re: Granta’s decidedly un-British list of literature’s top 20 stars to watch.

The Longlist of 13 novels to make this year’s Man Booker cut was culled from an initial 151 that included work by Margaret Atwood and J.M. Coetzee. Judges Robert MacFarlane, Martha Kearney, Stuart Kelly, Natalie Haynes, and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst will ultimately choose the winner who will receive the £50,000 prize.

And the Longlist is…

Five Star Billionaire Tash Aw (Fourth Estate)
We Need New Names NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto & Windus)
The Luminaries Eleanor Catton (Granta)
Harvest Jim Crace (Picador)
The Marrying of Chani Kaufman Eve Harris (Sandstone Press)
The Kills Richard House (Picador)
The Lowland Jhumpa Lahiri (Bloomsbury)
Unexploded Alison MacLeod ( Hamish Hamilton)
TransAtlantic Colum McCann (Bloomsbury)
Almost English Charlotte Mendelson (Mantle)
A Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki (Canongate)
The Spinning Heart Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland)
The Testament of Mary Colm Tóibín (Viking)