Highlighting our Black Authors

June 17, 2020

In a time of large scale protests and pushes for racial justice, we wanted to take a moment and recognize the powerful works of literature we have published by Black women. 

 

As our focus is to support the voices of women, people of color, and marginalized communities, over the last few decades we have published the writings of radical and revolutionary Black women. Many of these women have worked to create, further develop, and push the theories of feminism, womanism, and social justice which parallel, intersect, and reflect the issues we see in the mainstream right now. 

 

 

Graffiti edited by Pallavi Dhawan, Devi S. Laskar, and Tamika Thompson

Available as an eBook as well.

 

Foreword INDIES Anthology of the Year Silver award winner, Graffiti posed a special challenge: to write in a way that centers neither "whiteness" nor "anti-whiteness”, that is not limited by their struggle, their oppression, or how their characters will be received by the white imagination. To create a literary safe space of creative play far removed from the white gaze. A place where POC can focus on one another in solidarity. 

 

The results are joyous and mind-expanding. Contributors to Graffiti include American Book Award-winner Tongo Eisen-Martin, award-winning fantasy author L. Penelope, alongside Gary Dauphin, Sarah LaBrie, and many other acclaimed writers. 

 

"The voices in Graffiti howl with a collective energy and strength that is unmatched. These writers have the capacity to both tear you apart and heal you in one fell swoop. Each piece offers an opportunity for us to examine the ways in which communities of difference can band together to create a space for a revolution to take shape and flourish. Graffiti isn’t just a brilliantly composed collection, it is an absolutely essential one. I feel fundamentally changed after having read this powerful anthology."

—Alex Espinoza, author of Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime

 

 

Alice Walker Banned by Alice Walker

 

Throughout her distinguished career, Alice Walker's work has been at the center of controversies around language, censorship, truth and art. Alice Walker Banned explores just what it is that various groups have found so threatening in Walker's work, bringing together the short stories "Roselily" and "Am I Blue?," an excerpt from the novel The Color Purple, as well as testimonies, letters, and essays about attempts to censor Walker's work by the California State Board of Education.

 

The introduction by San Francisco Chronicle Book Review editor Patricia Holt offers insightful and ironic commentary on the efforts of the Traditional Values Coalition to pressure the State Board of Education into withdrawing Walker's stories from a statewide exam, while excerpts from a Board of Education hearing offer views from across the political spectrum on these efforts to censor Walker's work.

 

 

Call Me Woman by Ellen Kuzwayo

 

Call Me Woman is the autobiography of Ellen Kuzwayo, a black South African woman whose life as a social worker, woman's rights activist, politician, and more was woven in political history of South Africa for almost 60 years. Kuzwayo 's autobiography documents a complex series of changes in herself and her culture, including the onset and devastation of apartheid.

 

Ms. Kuzwayo was the first black person to win South Africa's premier literary prize, the CNS Literary Award.
 

"Call Me Woman is among that small group of books that have entered directly into my consciousness and changed my frame of reference."

—The San Francisco Chronicle

 

 

We previously published The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde (no longer available for purchase with us)

 

"Moving between journal entry, memoir, and exposition, Audre Lorde fuses the personal and political as she reflects on her experience coping with breast cancer and a radical mastectomy.

 

First published over forty years ago, The Cancer Journals is a startling, powerful account of Audre Lorde’s experience with breast cancer and mastectomy. Long before narratives explored the silences around illness and women’s pain, Lorde questioned the rules of conformity for women’s body images and supported the need to confront physical loss not hidden by prosthesis.

 

Living as a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Lorde heals and re-envisions herself on her own terms and offers her voice, grief, resistance, and courage to those dealing with their own diagnosis.

 

Poetic and profoundly feminist, Lorde’s testament gives visibility and strength to women with cancer to define themselves, and to transform their silence into language and action."

 

 

 

Her by Cherry Muhanji

 

This is a story about Detroit in the late fifties/early sixties and the Black women and men who came North to work the lines of the Ford Motor plant. It’s a story about John R. Street, the Harlem of Detroit, where they spent their nights trying to forget their days—at the Frolic and Flame Showbars, playing Mr. Ben’s numbers, sitting on stoops reminiscing about the days of their youth in the South.

 

Irreverent and poetic, this daring novel explores relationships among Black women of different generations and places who, above all, teach each other how to survive—not on men or money but on the courage to move a long ways in tight spaces.

 

"A skillful creator of scenes and characters, Muhanji explores in richly textured prose the complexities of relationships—particularly the intricacies of black lesbian and gay lives…celebrating both individual identity and community strength…an excellent offering from a strong writer."

— Booklist

 

 

 

New Voices 1 by DeeAnne Davis, Rabie Harris, and Gloria Yamato, guest editor Sauda Burch

 

This collection showcases three previously unpublished writers of great talent.

 

Rabie Harris writes about an old Jamaican woman, put into a Texas homecare facility by her daughter. The novella keeps astounding pace as the protagonist reports the unfolding drama of her two roommates.

 

Gloria Yamato, in her three stories and long poem, locates those exact moments when African Americans are forced into painful racialized consciousness.

 

DeeAnne Davis uses the streets of Chicago as a setting for four chapters from her forthcoming novel about an unlikely liaison between a young teenage girl and a gay cabbie.

 

 

 

Positive/Negative: Women of Color and HIV/AIDS: A collection of plays edited by Imani Harrington and Chyrell Bellamy

 

This collection of 20 plays creatively explores the HIV/AIDS crisis, especially as women of color in the United States experience it. Positive/Negative looks at both individual and community issues, ranging from deeply personal reckonings with grief and anger to the broader institutional problems of homophobia, racism, sexism, poverty, and access to health care.

"I think Postive/Negative: Women of Color and HIV/AIDS will prove to be one of the most important books of the decade on HIV/AIDS and art. These are the voices we’ve been waiting for, the side of the story we have not heard. This is political, this is art at its absolute most courageous, this is beyond the cutting edge. This collection takes you to the other side; it tells us what we have been wanting, needing, and afraid to know. Imani Harrington and Chyrell D. Bellamy have put together an amazing and magnificent book. We should applaud their courage."

— Sapphire

 

 

 

The Unforgetting Heart: An Anthology of Short Stories by African American Women (1859-1993) edited by Asha Kanwar

 

This collection brings together an unprecedented range of beautifully crafted short stories by women that span a century and a half of African American literary tradition. Editor Asha Kanwar's introduction provides historical background and context for the selection of stories by authors as varied as Alice Dunbar Nelson, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Cade Bambara, and Wanda Coleman. The writers included here, both the famous and the less well-known, together represent the remarkable diversity of African American women's writing across class, culture, and time.

 

"The Unforgetting Heart: What an appropriate title! What a stunning collection! These unforgettable stories—from laundry room to ballroom, from Brooklyn to Barbados, from colored folks to African Americans—will sweep into your life with all the variety, verve, intellect and heart of the women who produced them."

— Tina McElroy Ansa, author of Baby of the Family and Ugly Ways

 

"Often touted as great oral storytellers, African American women have nonetheless been ignored as short story writers. The Unforgetting Heart is a lively historical sampling that will challenge readers, teachers and scholarly views of African American women’s contributions to cultural/literary history."

— Barbara Christian, author of Black Feminist Criticism and Black Women Novelists, Professor of African American Studies, UC Berkeley

 

 

(While Asha Kanwar is not Black we wanted to include this anthology as it features many African American women writers)

 

We want to honor the deep contributions that Black women have made to different liberation movements across America, not just the struggle for racial justice but for gender and sexuality movements and many more. 

 

All of these books are available for purchase as our book distributor is still operating (take a look at our interview with them).

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