Thursday, December 11, 2008

REVISED! New post! Summer Preview: BLACK WATER RISING by Attica Locke

See New Info Below!

Well it's time to change from the Obama photo campaign book....I know we are all drunk on the Obamas, but time to move on. The cabinet positions are filling quickly and soon, inaguration will be upon us...where every person alive thinks they will somehow cram into the streets of D.C.

Coming in June, we have a very cool novel coming out by a very cool writer, with an equally cool name to match, Attica Locke. The book is Black Water Rising and like many a great novel, it has a highly intriguing back story. Ms. Locke's own father was a civil rights era activist who like many of that time found themselves transitioning from spirited and devoted college activists into the working professionals they probably didn't envision themselves becoming--and from this combustible period, the book's protagonist, Jay Porter was born.

It's set in 1981 Houston, and after Jay saves a drowning woman's life, he unknowingly open's a Pandora's Box of entanglements that reach into the highest level of the city's corporate powerbrokers. More as publication date nears!
NEW INFO: Just in case you don't want to take my word for is some outside praise from James Ellroy of L.A. CONFIDENTIAL fame and Paul Yamazaki from City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.
Ellroy: "What a ride! Black Water Rising is a superlative debut; a wonderful treatise on the Texas 1980s; the best bad town novel in some time. Attica Locke is a stand-out in every imperative-young-writer way."
Paul: "Reading BLACKWATER RISING was a singular riveting reading experience. Locke has successfully created a book illuminates a period of recent American history that has been for the most part overlooked by contemporary novelists....I applaud Locke for a wonderful first book. It is my fervent hope that Locke continues with Bernie and Jay Porter to explore the post civil rights ear of United States. The publication of BLACKWATER RISING will be a significant literary event."
With an indie bookstore endorsement and James Ellroy's words what more convincing do you need?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


On October 28, Amistad will release OBAMA: THE HISTORIC CAMPAIGN IN PHOTOGRAPHS, which through 150 striking color photos, charts Obama's groundbreaking run for the presidency through the Democratic convention. It includes an essay by Washington Post associate editor, Kevin Merida, and photo historian, curator and photography Deborah Willis. Kevin is the author of SUPREME DISCOMFORT: THE DIVIDED SOUL OF CLARENCE THOMAS. Deb is chair and professor of NYU's Department of Photography and an uber-woman as she is a Guggenheim, Fletcher and MacArthur fellow. Here is a sneak peak at the book's moving and beautiful photography.....and you know your mother will want one for pre-order today!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Author in the News: Marvelyn Brown

Since her book was published in September, Marvelyn Brown has done numerous interviews for her book, THE NAKED TRUTH: YOUNG, BEAUTIFUL AND (HIV) POSITIVE. But she just went on air again yesterday on The Tom Joyner Morning Show to make a timely plea for the need for health care coverage for all Americans. You can listen here just click on the Jacque Reid goes INSIDE THE STORY button.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Author in the News: Ravi Howard

Tonight,Ted Koppel’s Discovery Channel documentary “The Last Lynching” will feature a segment on Ravi Howard's Like Trees, Walking. Ravi sat down for an interview and the footage is set to air tonight. For those of you who don't know Ravi's book is based on the true story of the last modern-day lynching in Amercian which took place in 1981.

Complete TV info is available at the link below:

Monday, October 6, 2008

New Feature! Ask a Book Club: APOOO

Dear Readers!

This week I'm kicking off a new feature on Amistad Confidential: "Ask a Book Club" Book clubs remain instrumental to the success of our industry and particularly African-American book clubs. This week I've caught up with Yasmin Coleman of APOOO
(A Place of Our Own):

How did APOOO books start and how many members do you have?
With the encouragement of fellow review friends, APOOO Books was founded in 2000 by Yasmin Coleman as a book club for friends and fellow reviewers who wanted "A Place of Our Own" to release, relate, relax and fellowship in a comfortable environment while discussing a good book.
Currently we have 35 members in the book club; and almost 150 members in the authors and readers connections group.

How did you continually grow?
Since inception, APOOO Books has grown from a book club to include a review team, bookstore and promotional/publicity arm. APOOO is an authority on book recommendations for all African-American genres and is known for our ability to read, discuss, and critically dissect a book. Need the 411 regarding a good book? Look no further than APOOO. We can offer recommendations for a good book in any genre. We continue to grow because readers of African American literature recognize us as a literary authority and, as such, we've grown to become the #3 most popular online site for African-American literature.

A lot of people I know don't think they have time to read, let alone join a bookclub. What's the best thing about participating in a bookclub you'd say to those reluctant readers?
A book club helps you to make the time. Nothing like coming together with other like minded individuals to discuss a good book. Reading, when done in a group setting, can be so contagious that you feel left out if you're not reading. If you're not reading, you can't discuss the book with others. Some books that I was hesitant to read...came to life and in a different light because of book clubs. But book clubs are about more than just reading together, some of my bestest buds are also book club members and we share the good, the bad and the ugly about our personal lives while discussing a good book. When I was going through breast cancer eight years ago..after my husband and kids...I immediately turned to my book club members for support, encouragement, and a shoulder to lean and cry on. They helped me to get through one of the darkest times in my life.

What book has been one of your most memorable choices?
Definitely I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and Mama Day by Gloria Naylor. I couldn't just choose one because all of them mean a lot to me and affected me at different points in my life. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was the first book I ever read by an African-American author...and my introduction to African-American literature when I was only 11 years-old. Their Eyes Were Watching experience with a Harlem Renaissance writer but from a female perspective. Mama Day...oh my gosh...that book is so well-written, lyrically and symbolically and such a great love story, that you have to read it more than once to feel the full affect. Every time I read it I take away something different from it. If an individual reads no other book by an African-American author, they should read Mama Day because it is a very powerful and moving story. Finally, all three of these books/writers can write circles around much of the stuff that is passed off as African American literature today; it's a shame that so much of what is currently out there is so one-dimensional. :(

APOOO's Mission Statement:
APOOO ( A Place of Our Own) is an online book club and author and reader community dedicated to advancing African American literature. Our mission is to expose readers of all ages to a good book in any genre; to support African American authors, books, literary events and book clubs; to provide marketing resources, tools and tips to authors; and, to promote literacy within the African American community.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The one and only Diahann Carroll on sale today!

Well folks although I hate to play favorites, this book, Diahann Carroll's The Legs are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying and Other Things I Learned The Hard Way has turned out to my favorite of all our fall releases, because it is just plain so much fun. And insightful too, particularly about the pre-Civil Rights era and non PC years Old Hollywood.

Generations of people know Diahann Carroll. If it isn't for her turn on "Julia" as the first African-American with her own sitcom, or starring in the indepenent film Claudine, you know her from Dynasty or shows like A Different World or even recently on Grey's Anatomy .

Naturally such a long and storied showbiz career lends itself to a very interesting life story, and although young people may not like to admit it, it's hard to know everything when you're 25. Now in her Golden Years, Diahann Carroll has let it all out from her days hanging out with the Rat Pack to her tumultuous affair with Sidney Poitier (They were both married at the time), to her audition for Sunset Blvd. Carroll has more than enough stories to fill two books. You can see her talk about her book on Good Morning America, or her interview on NPR, or catch her on The View tomorrow! And for an extra treat watch this vintage video of Diahann Carroll in a gorgeous fringe dress. And you can watch her wrestle Joan Collins on Dynasty on Amistad TV.

Also on Sale Mo'Nique!

Last week everybody's favorite F.A.T. (Fabulous and Thick, that is) actress/comedienne Mo'Nique published her first YA novel, BEACON HILLS HIGH, which explores the trials and tribulations of teenager Eboni Michelle Imes, who gets uprooted from Baltimore to glamourous Los Angeles, just as she was about to start high school with her friends, the TTC (Too Tight Crew).

So thanks to the likes of Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton we know Southern California can be a bit unkind to anyone who dares to eat and expand beyond a size 0. And Miss (F.A.T.) Eboni has never been one to turn down quality food. So as you can imagine a fish out of water story ensues....With its multi-racial cast and fun setting this book is sure to resonate with many a tween girl. And the cover is cool too.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Deviant Life of and Demise of Sammy Davis Jr.

On sale this week is a book so hot it got the headline in Page Six of the NY POST and our offices intimidated by Jessie Jackson. Everyone knows who Sammy Davis Jr. is...but most of us, especially those of us who are younger, know little about his days with the Rat Pack...and more specifically how Sammy earned $50 million in his lifetime and died flat broke...not just any kind of broke, but broke broke. As in you owe the IRS your life. In Deconstructing Sammy journalist Matt Birbeck reveled some of the following bombshells:

Sammy Davis Jr. opted out of life saving throat cancer surgery because he thought it'd ruin his voice and eliminate the only way he could make money.

Following his divorce from Scandanavian actress May Britt in 1968, Sammy was pressued to marry a black woman, Altovise Gore who he pressured into attending wild parties.

When Sammy's good friend and longtime conductor, George Rhodes died, he asked Jesse Jackson to perform the eulogy. Jackson charged $5000 in cash and four first class plane tickets plus two suites at the Four Seasons Hotel. Sammy was so broke he had to ask his security guard to take a cash advance off of his credit card.

Matt appeared on NPR's Talk of the Nation so you can hear more about the book here:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A fall preview

September will not only bring you cooler weather, depending on where you live, but also two new exciting Amistad books, about Old Hollywood no longer with us and another alive and kicking like never before. Sammy Davis Jr. and Diahann Carroll. Masked Editor does not believe in working vacations (if at all possible...) so no new posts until Sept 16!

Monday, August 18, 2008

August On Sale Marvelyn Brown's The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive

Tomorrow one of the most important books I think we've ever published will go on sale. It's Marvelyn Brown's THE NAKED TRUTH: YOUNG, BEAUTIFUL and (HIV) Positive.

Being that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women age 24-35 , it's a message we all seem to know, but still somehow two decades plus into the AIDS epidemic, many of us still walk around with an "It can't happen to me" attitude.

Marvelyn is truly an inspiration. When she contracted HIV at age 19, she could've given up on life. But she chose to speak out and she's become one of the most sought after HIV activists of her generation. Some of you may have seen her inteview on CNN's BLACK IN AMERICA special last month. And you can catch her on the EARLY SHOW this week too. But for now you can watch her speak for herself during her MTV PSA that won an Emmy. Please spread the word to every young adult you know....

Friday, August 8, 2008

Books We Read Outside of Work

People accuse me of not liking anything. I call it taste. But there are a lot of things myself and our staff do like. And yes publishing folks do find time to read outside of work. Sometimes. Like when we're riding the train or on vacation. Here are some of our staff's recent fiction picks.

Masked Editor (me): A Fraction of the Whole by Australian Steve Toltz. This book is a real riot. A long, rambling debut novel that is so voice drive that the plot almost becomes irrelevant. For whatever reason it hasn't taken off so much in the States, but has been long listed for the Booker Prize. One of my favorite things about this book's marketing push was the trippy book trailer the author made.

Bryan Christian (Marketing Director): The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. All modern suicide, depression, and manic memoirs owe their publication in some way to Ms. Plath. But being that Prozac, Xanax, etc weren't around then, I believe in The Bell Jar's authenticity a bit more.

Dawn Davis (Editorial Director): Dawn claims she has no time to read outside of work. But I catch her carrying around battered paperback novels in her bag now and then. And one of those novels which she has endorsed is The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai, winner of the 2006 Booker.

Cathy Serpico (Marketing Assistant): Northline by William Vlautin. Cathy endorses both Northline and Willy's other book, The Motel Life.

Next time I'll highlight something even more esoteric: Short Stories we've read.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Black Books in Controversy: The Difficulty of Selling Foreign Rights for books featuring black people

Another oddity of publishing that worries me is the lack of enthusiasm on behalf of foreign publishers for titles about black history or novels featuring black characters.

THE KNOWN WORLD only sold rights in one country due to a personal contact before it won the Pulitzer Prize. The Pursuit of Happyness sold rights due largely to the Will Smith film project. But most of the time you just hear crickets from foreign publishers.

This again ties into my suspicion raised in previous posts that for some reason books about black people are somehow seen as less universal. Maybe it's the publishing industry's fault, maybe the consumer's prejudices or maybe neither at all. It's difficult to say.

So what do you think? Anyone seen books about the African Diaspora sold abroad? Which books were they?

Monday, July 21, 2008

On Sale Now: "Taj" from SWV takes on the ever present phenomenon of women hating on each other.

If you can remember the 90s clearly, which I assume most of the readers of this site can, you remember the mega-girl group SWV. Surely, many of you fought over who would sing lead in "Weak", and if you saw the 2008 BET awards, you saw that the members of SWV are very much still active and can still sing....

This month, Amistad published PlayerhateHER: How to Avoid the Beat Down and Live in a Drama-Free World, written by Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George and her best friend Katrina R. Chambers.

And oh all the ways we hate on each other! Tamara and Katrina discuss everything from wedding fights, men and celeb playerhating squabbles, and it's sure to at least put a smile on your face as you recognize yourself and others you know in the anecdotes. And take time to watch the video for "Weak"'ll bring back some memories!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Calling all those without flawless skin, hair and nails!

Dr. Susan C. Taylor, M.D., Havard-trained dermatologist extraordinaire, and author of DR. Susan Taylor's RX for BROWN SKIN:YOUR PRESCRIPTION FOR FLAWLESS SKIN, HAIR, and NAILS has recently launched a skin care line for women of color, that's being sold in Sephora.

But don't dash to the store just yet. Amistad/HarperCollins is running a sweepstakes with the lucky winner receiving Dr. Taylor's updated book and new RX for Brown Skin skin care line. (Too bad I can't enter).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Pursuit of Happyness film v. The Pursuit of Happyness book

I saw a screening of The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith a couple of months before it was released in theaters. Since I'd just started at Amistad, I hadn't read The Pursuit of Happyness book yet, but I had a nagging suspicion that the book and movie weren't very similar at all, and they really aren't.

Here are some major differences:

1. The real Chris Gardner wasn't that old.
In the film I thought Will Smith looked thoroughly middle-aged. In reality, Chris Gardner was in his mid/late 20s.

2. The real Chris Gardner received a stipend during his internship.
Readers of the book will know that Chris Gardner received a small stipend while during his internship with the finance company. However, it was still not enough to cover day care costs and housing costs in ultra expensive San Francisco.

3. The real Chris Gardner was not married to his son's mother.
The movie doesn't really delve into this, while in the book Chris Gardner is honest about his imperfections.

4. The book covers the author's entire life more or less and the film only covers the year or so during Chris's homeless period.

I could go on and on, but then I wouldn't really be doing a good job of of promoting our books. So of course, (just one click away!) you can check out the book.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


In honor of Father's Day, I've highlighted Rachel Vassel's DAUGHTERS OF MEN which includes full-color photographs and essays about successful black women and the role their fathers played in their lives. I asked Rachel to give us a little more insight into the stories in the book:

1. Naturally, the daughters and fathers featured in the book have very different backgrounds. However, were there any common threads you came across in most of the stories?

I found that all the father daughter pairs spent a good deal of time together. The fathers made it a priority, whether it was walking their daughter to school, taking trips together or bringing their daughter to their workplace. Also, many of the dads encouraged their daughters by telling them that they were smart or beautiful - and the daughters internalized these comments, building their self esteem. Half the battle of becoming a success is believing that you can do it and that you're worthy. What a gift these daughters received!

2. Was there any one interview you found particuarly suprising or insightful?

Being from NYC, I didn't know much about civil rights leader Hosea Williams, who was a legend in the South and whose daughter Elizabeth Omilami was profiled in the book. He was a chemist who quit his job to join the movement full time-which of course was a huge sacrifice that impacted his family. He also owned several businesses that financed his key initiatives, like Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, which is now run by his daughter. This was a man who was intelligent and determined enough to create the wealth that he felt was required to change the world. He didn't wait for somebody else to make things happen or to finance his ideas, but you wouldn't necessarily know that because he lived so modestly.

3.How did you choose your subjects, especially those who are not did you know they had a great father story to tell?

I either received a great referral on the individual or I would call them up and have a conversation before deciding. This is not the kind of thing you can learn about on the internet, since most of the women in the book told me that they'd never been asked about their fathers during an interview. It was hit or miss with the father stories and some of the daughters I wanted to include just didn't fit. We also wanted to ensure that we had women of all ages and professions represented, as well as dads with a variety of backgrounds.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The African-American Interest Section Survives!

Thanks a bunch to all of you who commented and voted on the poll from my initial Black Books in Controversy post.

"Shelve literary titles in the general interest section" (37% of the vote) narrowly beat out "Institute Post-Racial Bookstores. Eliminate the African-American Interest Section." (31% of the vote)

Black Books in Controversy: Putting images of Black People on Book Covers

You wouldn't probably believe it if you never have sat around a table and discussed whether or not putting an image of a black person on a book jacket will hurt a book's sales. But when it comes to a lot of literary titles and serious non-fiction, there is a strain of thought that having an image of a person of color on the cover will make the book less appealing to the general consumer.

That this is even taken into consideration disturbs me a lot, because if someone doesn't want to purchase a book because it features a black person on the cover, then I think the problem is that of the consumer, not the publisher.

Again, good readers of this site, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. What do you think? Do cover images influence your purchasing decisions?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Author in the News!: William Henry Lewis

Big up to our man William Henry Lewis, author of Pen/Faulkner finalist I Got Somebody in Staunton, for landing a NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) grant. You can read about the prize here, or just read his statement below :

Author's Statement:
This fellowship comes at a time when I am just beginning to unearth the raw material for a suite of books I've wanted to write for some time. The fellowship will provide me smoother access to research opportunities and resources in a way that was not possible before. More to the point, in all of my years of preparing to write this sequence of books, it has only been very recently that I realized a foundation and craft approach that was suitable for this work. I am most grateful that the NEA fellowship serves not only as a confirmation that my work is starting from the right place, but also as encouragement to push that work to a destination I have been imagining for many years. Many, many thanks for an honor that humbles me and challenges me to create more than I could on my own.

Sooooo, hopefully we'll be graced with some new William Henry Lewis publications soon. No pressure. :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On Sale Now

Three of our titles have hit the shelves this month:

WASHINGTON: THE MAKING OF THE AMERICAN CAPITAL by Bound for Canaan author Fergus M. Bordewich. The book just garnered the front page of the Washington Post Book World reviewed by non other than ubercritic Jonathan Yardley.


The book examines the backroom deal making and shifting alliances between our Founding Fathers and in doing so pulls back the curtain on the lives of slaves who actually built the city.

Browse Inside this book
Get this for your site

You can also see Fergus interviewed in this video on the HarperCollins site:


They say you can't fight city hall, can't fight corporations, just plain ol' can't fight "the man" in general. But Margie Richard did. And she won, getting Shell Oil to relocate she and her neighbors out of Cancer Alley in Southern Louisiana.

You can watch a video of the case on YouTube.

Now out in Paperback:

The Women Who Raised Me by Victoria Rowell.

When I was about nine years old (go figure) I began watching the Young and The Restless over summer vacation, right about the time Victoria Rowell made her first appearance as the character Druscilla Winters. But the real Victoria has a compelling story of growing up in the foster care system which you can read about in The Women Who Raised Me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Author of the Week: Edward P. Jones

I wish Edward P. Jones had more books. But because he only has three, I find myself reading everything I can that has been printed by or about him. I read his blurbs, I read his foreword for the new edition of BLACK BOY. I am planning to read his introduction for Being a Black Man: At the Corner of Progress and Peril.

As I always tell people whenever I engage in my Edward P. Jones evangelism, there are plenty of clever fiction writers out there, but the work of Edward P. Jones is truly a lesson in what it means to write from the heart.

Below are some links to a handful of his interviews, profiles, and check out his speech at the 2007 Pen/Hemingway ceremony. Whether with a few words or an entire novel, Edward P. Jones will always make you think, or at least furrow your brow and say: "Hmmm, I never really thought about that in that way." So be warned, you may prematurely age, from brow furrowing.

Five Questions for Edward P. Jones in the NY Times Sunday Magazine.

A profile of Jones' Washington DC.

A terrific interview on After The MFA.

Ever wonder what the "P" stands for? Read this Small Spiral Notebook interview.

On NPR's Fresh Air.

Okay. By now you should get the point. Edward P. Jones is cool, if you didn't already know.

Black Books In Controversy: There's no such thing as "Too Literary"

Here's a headline for you: Street Fiction Doesn't Sell. At least not beyond a handful of authors that I can, literally, count on one hand. While there appears to be an abundance of so called "street fiction" titles, by and large the majority of these authors haven't succeeded in getting real traction. I know. I have access to sales figures and personally asked buyers at Barnes and Noble, Books A Million and Borders if recently there'd been any breakout street fiction authors beyond the "brands." They said no.

There's no such thing as "too literary." Something can be too literary for someone's list, i.e. If I publish mass-market romances and you send in a Faustian-inspired interpretation of modern black life in the Gullah Islands. But by and large publishers are always looking for quality works of fiction no matter the color of the writer. It's just the nature of the business that it can sometimes be like searching for a needle in a haystack. And, as always, art is subjective.

So this brings me to the subject of street fiction's effect on black literary authors trying to get published. I don't really think an editor would read a manuscript they loved and say: "Oh, only hardcore drug and sex novels are selling, so I'm passing."

Sometimes people ask me what they should write about. I often respond: "I don't know." Because I don't know what story is in you. That's should be the most important consideration, not the ill-conceived perception that only a certain type of book is selling.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Welcome to the inagural list of posts for our blog, which includes the kick off for some of our regular features including the "Author of the Week", "Black Books in Controversy" and "Books are Perfect for Every Occasion!" I hope you find the site engaging and interactive and please check back for weekly updates. Thanks for looking! And don't forget to particpate in our poll.

Black Books in Controversy: African American Interest Sections

Type the words "African-American" or "black" along with "bookstore sections" into any search engine. You'll most likely pull up a litany of blog posts, articles, etc. likening the the existence of shelf space designated for titles by black authors to everything from "book segregation" to "literary apartheid."

It's a never-ending debate among booksellers, customers, publishers and authors. "Will only black people buy my book if I'm shelved in the African-American interest section?" is definitely a question that I've been asked more than once.

But here are some facts about the two biggest superstores:

Barnes and Noble with the exception of a few outlets, doesn't shelve its African-American fiction separately. That's right, general fiction titles are lined up in alphabetical order regardless of the subject matter, or the author's race. Barnes and Noble does however have an African-American non-fiction section.

Borders does group both black literature and non-fiction titles together, a move they made back in the 70s when instituting an African-American interest section was considered a fairly progressive move. (Two of the more nuanced looks at the issue can be found in this WSJ article and on lit blogger Maud Newton's site.)

Many superstores will argue that having an African-American interest section allows customers interested in those titles to find what they're looking for more easily, and crosslisting all African- American titles would be overly complicated.

But can being shelved in a particular section really hurt a book's chances? I don't think that if someone walks into a bookstore and asks for Beloved or a serious work of non-fiction such as Medical Apartheid and is directed to the African-American interest section that some sort of invisible barbed-wire will prevent them from making the purchase. Still, it's a sensitive issue. And understandably, some people take issue with more literary titles being shelved along side more commercial fare.

But enough of my rambling. I turn this now over to you good readers of this site. Perhaps if enough votes come in from the poll at the bottom of this page, I will send the results to the superstores, letting them know that the people have spoken.

Next Week's Black Books In Controversy: Street Fiction--why it doesn't prevent literary authors from getting published.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Deborah Johnson: Author of the Week!

I've decided to kick off our Author of the Week feature with Deborah Johnson author of The Air Between Us, a "Secret Life of Beesesque" novel set in small town Mississippi at the dawn of integration.

Deb's submission was the first MS Word document I read as an Amistad staffer that turned into an actual book. In addition to posessing charming characters, a compelling plot with a mysterious twist you'll never see coming, and a gorgeous, florid setting (those in need of a more objective opinion may read this review from The Washington Post) the book has a highly intriguing back story, which you can read in this Behind the Book Piece: Read Me!

The original title of the novel was Ghost Surgeon. Which references a term used for black surgeons who performed operations during the 50s and 60s and on into the early 70s, when medicine was more personal and there was very little confidence in the skills of a black physician within the general populace. The attending physician would be with the patient as he/she went under the anesthesia, so the white patients woudn't know they were going to be operated on by a doctor of color. Deb's own father was one of these "ghost surgeons" in Omaha, Nebraska.

Yes, this little known practice belongs in the category of one of those smack you in the face types of racism that well, you just wouldn't know about unless it happened to you. A bit like what happened to me when I tried to get a job teaching English in Asia a few years back. If The Air Between Us sounds like it might be up your alley, I do hope these words encourage some of you to check out this heart-filled novel.

Next week's subject: The collected interviews, essays and speeches of Edward P. Jones.

Books for Mom...

Women are big readers. And as most mothers are women, a book makes for a perfect Mother's Day present...even it arrives a little late because mothers know how to forgive.

For fabulous mothers who never leave the house in flats:
Always Wear Joy by Susan Fales Hill

For mothers who dream of island vacations:

From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and her Island by Lorna Goodison
(released originally in Canada, it won that country's largest non-fiction prize, and we all know our good friends to the North have excellent literary taste.)

For expectant mothers:

The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy: by Kimberly Seals Allers

This delightfully written, informative book along with Kimberly's achingly cute collection of maternity clothes and babywear almost make me wish that I was with child! (Just kidding).


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