Thursday, February 14, 2008

READIN' & WRITIN' : WHO? WHAT? AND WHY?

As we traveled on book tour we always mentioned that if there are authors you love, you need to support them or you won’t find them on the shelves any longer. Readers are generally horrified to find that we did not have an easy time finding a publisher—either back when Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made was published, or eleven years later for the sequel. We’ve even wondered whether Tryin’ or any of our other books would be published now at all, given the current climate. This always led to the hot topic—the prevalence of “street lit” and erotica in African-American fiction. Whether we’re talking with book clubs or solo readers—even booksellers—we hear concern about the direction of fiction written by and about Black folks. Where are the “good” books? they ask.

In an article in thedailyvoice.com written by Linda Villarosa (see excerpt and link below) discussing the formation of ringShout, “a group dedicated to "recognizing, reclaiming and celebrating literary fiction and non fiction by black writers," she hits upon the difficulty of defining “good”. And for us the even word “literary” sets off alarm bells, since we have been dissed and dismissed, more than a time or two by “literary” writers.

With any form of media—television, movies, music, the written word—the argument can be made that people buy what they want to consume. Does that mean that by and large readers are happy with the available offerings? Are they buying erotica and street lit because it’s readily available and fits in the budget? Because it’s an exciting escape from “real life”? Because it is telling some truth about “us” that is not being spoken elsewhere?
So we ask are you satisfied with the Black fiction you find on the shelves now? If not, what do you want to see more of?

Bookz in da Hood? by LINDA VILLAROSA

Posted February 12, 2008 1:00 PM

Novels like "Making Him Want It," "Crackhead," "Freak in the Sheets" and "Nasty Girls," are hip-checking literary superstars like Toni Morrison off the shelves. Other authors never make it into print, squeezed out by dirty girls (and boys) like Zane, Nikki Turner, Karrine Steffans and their lower rent offspring.

For more on author and journalist Linda Villarosa, go to http://lindavillarosa.com

A new group offers an alternative to "street lit."

A few weeks ago, publishing's Talented Tenth gathered at Random House to celebrate the launch of ringShout, a group dedicated to "recognizing, reclaiming and celebrating literary fiction and non fiction by black writers." The organization's founders--authors Martha Southgate, Eisa Nefertari Ulen and Bridgett Davis; Cave Canem 's Alison Myers and Random House editor Chris Jackson--call ringShout "a place for black literature."

But even as the night sparkled with writers, editors, booksellers and other black literati, a 10,000 pound elephant sat squarely in the center of the room: ghetto fiction, street lit or as one writer has called it "ho for dough books." --- (To read the rest of the article please visit http://thedailyvoice.com/voice/2008/02/bookz-in-da-hood-000079.php )

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 11:29 AM

2 Comments:

Blogger Carleen Brice said...

I would call your books literary-commercial or commercial-literary. The kind of books I like to read, and hopefully the kind I write. LOL

No, I'm not satisfied, but I just look through what doesn't work for me to try and find what I like. I just learned of Conception by Kalisha Buckhanon, and I'm going to check that out.

8:34 PM  
Blogger DeBerry & Grant said...

Thanks Carleen--it's what we strive for--but the industry is so--so categorically grounded in either/or, you yourself know we write on a line we drew ourselves--but honestly, we think it's where most people like to read.
And many many congrats on the release of Orange Mint and Honey and for the great reviews!!

8:27 AM  

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