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2017 American Book Award Winners

The 2017 American Book Award winners have just been announced. These awards are presented by the Before Columbus Foundation, which was founded in 1976 to promote contemporary American multicultural literature. In 1978 the awards were created in order to “respect and honor excellence in American literature without restriction or bias with regard to race, sex, creed, cultural origin, size of press or ad budget, or even genre.” Among the award winners this year are the following titles in Richland Library’s collection.


Homegoing: A novel by Yaa Gyasi
Amazon Says: Winner of the NBCC's John Leonard First Book Prize A New York Times 2016 Notable Book One of Oprah’s 10 Favorite Books of 2016 NPR's Debut Novel of the Year One of Buzzfe more...
Amazon Says: Winner of the NBCC's John Leonard First Book Prize A New York Times 2016 Notable Book One of Oprah’s 10 Favorite Books of 2016 NPR's Debut Novel of the Year One of Buzzfeed's Best Fiction Books Of 2016 One of Time's Top 10 Novels of 2016, Winner of 2017 PEN Hemingway award for debut fiction. “Homegoing is an inspiration.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates  The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indeliably drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.             Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation. less...
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Amazon Says: Now a New York Times bestseller The 2017 American Book Award Winner from the Before Columbus FoundationA Washington Post notable nonfiction book for 2016 more...
Amazon Says: Now a New York Times bestseller The 2017 American Book Award Winner from the Before Columbus FoundationA Washington Post notable nonfiction book for 2016A Goodreads Best of 2016 Nonfiction FinalistA Kobo Best Book of 2016 Includes an update from Rabia on Adnan's vacated murder conviction in summer 2016 Serial only told part of the story…In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig's investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listenersBut Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State's case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence -- among many other points -- and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan's Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case. less...
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The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden
Amazon Says: WINNER of the 2017 American Book AwardWINNER of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Fiction)2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominee (Fic more...
Amazon Says: WINNER of the 2017 American Book AwardWINNER of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Fiction)2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominee (Fiction)!A Washington Post Notable Book of 2016"Simply miraculous...As her saga becomes ever more spellbinding, so does the reader's astonishment at the magic she creates. This is a story about the triumph of the human spirit over bigotry, intolerance and cruelty, and at the center of The Book of Harlan is the restorative force that is music." --Washington Post"McFadden's writing breaks the heart--and then heals it again. The perspective of a black man in a concentration camp is unique and harrowing and this is a riveting, worthwhile read." --Toronto Star "The Book of Harlan is an incredible read. Bernice McFadden...has created an amazing novel that speaks to lesser known aspects of the African-American experience and illuminates the human heart and spirit. Her spare prose is rich in details that convey deep emotions and draw the reader in. This fictional narrative of Harlan Elliot's life is firmly grounded amidst real people and places--prime historical fiction, and the best book I have read this year." --Historical Novels Review, Editors' Choice"McFadden packs a powerful punch with tight prose and short chapters that bear witness to key events in early twentieth-century history: both World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Great Migration. Partly set in the Jim Crow South, the novel succeeds in showing the prevalence of racism all across the country--whether implemented through institutionalized mechanisms or otherwise. Playing with themes of divine justice and the suffering of the righteous, McFadden presents a remarkably crisp portrait of one average man's extraordinary bravery in the face of pure evil." --Booklist, Starred review"Through this character portrait of Harlan, McFadden has constructed a vivid, compelling narrative that makes historical fiction an accessible, literary window into the African-American past and some of the contemporary dilemmas of the present." --Publishers Weekly"McFadden's impressive achievement offers us a window into the often very difficult lives of African Americans from the Jim Crow era up to the present--and, unexpectedly, in wartime Germany. Highly recommended for showing us that however badly black citizens have historically been treated, black lives matter." --Library JournalThe Book of Harlan opens with the courtship of Harlan's parents and his 1917 birth in Macon, Georgia. After his prominent minister grandfather dies, Harlan and his parents move to Harlem, where he eventually becomes a professional musician. When Harlan and his best friend, trumpeter Lizard Robbins, are invited to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre--affectionately referred to as "The Harlem of Paris" by black American musicians--Harlan jumps at the opportunity, convincing Lizard to join him.But after the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, Harlan and Lizard are thrown into Buchenwald--the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany--irreparably changing the course of Harlan's life. Based on exhaustive research and told in McFadden's mesmeric prose, The Book of Harlan skillfully blends the stories of McFadden's familial ancestors with those of real and imagined characters. less...
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Amazon Says: A gripping tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, Georgia, and a harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America.Forsyth County, Georgia, at the turn more...
Amazon Says: A gripping tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, Georgia, and a harrowing testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America.Forsyth County, Georgia, at the turn of the twentieth century was home to a large African American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children. Many black residents were poor sharecroppers, but others owned their own farms and the land on which they’d founded the county’s thriving black churches.But then in September of 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. One man was dragged from a jail cell and lynched on the town square, two teenagers were hung after a one-day trial, and soon bands of white “night riders” launched a coordinated campaign of arson and terror, driving all 1,098 black citizens out of the county. In the wake of the expulsions, whites harvested the crops and took over the livestock of their former neighbors, and quietly laid claim to “abandoned” land. The charred ruins of homes and churches disappeared into the weeds, until the people and places of black Forsyth were forgotten.National Book Award finalist Patrick Phillips tells Forsyth’s tragic story in vivid detail and traces its long history of racial violence all the way back to antebellum Georgia. Recalling his own childhood in the 1970s and ’80s, Phillips sheds light on the communal crimes of his hometown and the violent means by which locals kept Forsyth “all white” well into the 1990s.Blood at the Root is a sweeping American tale that spans the Cherokee removals of the 1830s, the hope and promise of Reconstruction, and the crushing injustice of Forsyth’s racial cleansing. With bold storytelling and lyrical prose, Phillips breaks a century-long silence and uncovers a history of racial terrorism that continues to shape America in the twenty-first century. 36 illustrations less...
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Green Island: A novel by Shawna Yang Ryan
Amazon Says: “Shawna Yang Ryan’s propulsive storytelling carries us through a bloody time in Taiwanese history, its implications still reverberating today. The story is haunted by ques more...
Amazon Says: “Shawna Yang Ryan’s propulsive storytelling carries us through a bloody time in Taiwanese history, its implications still reverberating today. The story is haunted by questions about whether Taiwan is a part of China or its own country, what the costs are of standing up for one’s beliefs and by the choices made by one father and his daughter. Green Island is a tough, unsentimental and moving novel that is a memorial not only to the heroes, but also to the survivors.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer A stunning story of love, betrayal, and family, set against the backdrop of a changing Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century. February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community—conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family—the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.   As the novel sweeps across six decades and two continents, the life of the narrator shadows the course of Taiwan’s history from the end of Japanese colonial rule to the decades under martial law and, finally, to Taiwan’s transformation into a democracy. But, above all, Green Island is a lush and lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival, raising the question: how far would you be willing to go for the ones you love? less...
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Look: Poems by Solmaz Sharif
Amazon Says: *Finalist for the 2017 PEN Open Book Award* *Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award*Solmaz Sharif's astonishing first book, Look, asks us to see the ongoing costs of war as more...
Amazon Says: *Finalist for the 2017 PEN Open Book Award* *Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award*Solmaz Sharif's astonishing first book, Look, asks us to see the ongoing costs of war as the unbearable loss of human lives and also the insidious abuses against our everyday speech. In this virtuosic array of poems, lists, shards, and sequences, Sharif assembles her family's and her own fragmented narratives in the aftermath of warfare. Those repercussions echo into the present day, in the grief for those killed in America's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and in the discrimination endured at the checkpoints of daily encounter.At the same time, these poems point to the ways violence is conducted against our language. Throughout this collection are words and phrases lifted from the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms; in their seamless inclusion, Sharif exposes the devastating euphemisms deployed to sterilize the language, control its effects, and sway our collective resolve. But Sharif refuses to accept this terminology as given, and instead turns it back on its perpetrators. "Let it matter what we call a thing," she writes. "Let me look at you." Daily I sit with the language they've madeof our languageto NEUTRALIZE the CAPABILITY of LOW DOLLAR VALUE ITEMs like you.You are what is referred to as a "CASUALTY."--from "Personal Effects" less...
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The Mexican Flyboy by Alfredo Véa Jr.
Amazon Says: What if we could travel back in time to save our heroes from painful deaths? What if we could rewrite history to protect and reward the innocent victims of injustice? In Alfre more...
Amazon Says: What if we could travel back in time to save our heroes from painful deaths? What if we could rewrite history to protect and reward the innocent victims of injustice? In Alfredo Véa’s daring new novel, one man does just that, taking readers on a series of remarkable journeys. Abandoned as a child, brooding and haunted as an adult, Simon Vegas, “the Mexican Flyboy,” toils for years to repair a time machine that fell into his hands in Vietnam. With the help of his friend, eccentric Hephaestus Segundo, Simon uses the device to fly through time. Wherever acts of human cruelty take place, in the past or in the present, the machine lets him lift the suffering away and deliver them to a utopian afterlife. Blending magical realism, science fiction, history, and comic-book fantasy, The Mexican Flyboy swoops readers from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the vineyards of Northern California, from Ethel Rosenberg’s execution to Joan of Arc’s pyre, in a tale of justice, trauma, regret, and redemption. The dead pass through the narrative in a parade at once heartbreaking and hopeful, among them Vincent van Gogh and Malcolm X, Ernest Hemingway and Amadou Diallo. But the living—Simon’s pregnant wife, Elena, his old friend Ezekiel Stein, prisoner Lenny Hudson—all throw doubt onto Simon’s story. Is Simon truly a “magus,” transporting martyrs to a shared community in paradise? Or is he just a man broken by loss, guilt, and the trauma of war, hopelessly lost in an illusion of his own making? Crossing genres and blending comedy with tragedy, Alfredo Véa imagines a world where we can rewrite our pasts and heal the wounds inflicted by history. Inviting comparisons to the work of James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges, Junot Díaz and Michael Chabon, this powerful book is like nothing else you have ever read. less...
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