Sistahs Shop Talk is just random ramblings from yours truly about books, news, and views that captivate me.
Segregation in the Store: An author friend who forwarded this Facebook post and our proceeding discussion offline inspired a lot of thoughts concerning the age-old debate of book segregation. That post mostly discusses Amazon, but it invites another question: when you walk into a physical bookstore, do you prefer African-American fiction to have its own section or to be blended with “mainstream” fiction? I’ve long preferred the African-American books to be chillin’ by themselves, away from the others because it just makes it easier to find the title I want.
And segregation also helps distinguish just how many titles of ours the bookstore carries. Books-A-Million, with their dedicated AA division, is just beautiful to look at. All these wonderful books at my reach, all about our people. When I walk into Barnes & Noble, which mixes AA books in regular fiction, it just looks sloppy to me, because I can see how many books they are (or not) selling in the store. Walking up and down the aisles (like I sometimes do) tells me that they have the smallest AA collection, and that’s a problem. But there is another side, the one that questions why there is a separate AA section at all. It makes our books seem like anomalies, as if we’re not good enough to be in the “regular fiction.” What do you think?
Something else to think about: when you lump our books together, you have Kindred and Giovanni’s Room hanging out with titles like I Jus’ Wanna Leave This Nigga (yes, this a real book title). There’s not a distinction between genres, between classics and romance and science fiction and street lit ― and some feel street lit is taking over most of the shelves nowadays. As an occasional reader of street lit as an escape of sorts, this doesn’t bother me (hey, we all gotta eat), but is this a problem for you? How do you want your books to be shelved?
BTW, the merits of street lit will be discussed at a later time….
- A Black Lesbian Filmmaker’s Reaction to #OscarsSoWhite | Advocate.com | Here’s why Charzette Torrence, executive producer, creator, and co-writer of Jillian’s Peak, a new premium scripted digital series featuring the stories of African-American lesbians, won’t be tuning in on Sunday night.
What I’m Reading Next…
White Nights, Black Paradise by Sikivu Hutchinson: White Nights, Black Paradise follows three fictional black women characters who were part of the Peoples Temple movement but took radically different paths to Jonestown. I found the summary to be interesting, and after reading a smidgen, it seems to humanize the tragedy while incorporating members of all ages, genders and sexual orientations.
“Across from her, Hunter devoured her meal even more completely than she had. Sinclair watched her sink sharp teeth into the chicken bone, heard it snap, then the soft grunt of satisfaction. She made soft sucking sounds then emptied her mouth of the tiny ground up remains on a corner of her dish. Hunter ate with rabbit-like intensity, biting and sucking and spitting in an even rhythm until all that was left on the plate was a small brown and beige pile of ground bones. She finally looked up and caught Sinclair staring.”
― Fiona Zedde, Bliss
Trolling for New Books…
All release dates are tentative.
The Gilda Stories: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition – Jewelle Gomez (with Afterword by Alexis Pauline Gumbs)
City Lights Publishers
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Before Buffy, before Twilight, before Octavia Butler’s Fledgling, there was The Gilda Stories, Jewelle Gomez’s sexy vampire novel.
This remarkable novel begins in 1850s Louisiana, where Gilda escapes slavery and learns about freedom while working in a brothel. After being initiated into eternal life as one who “shares the blood” by two women there, Gilda spends the next two hundred years searching for a place to call home. An instant lesbian classic when it was first published in 1991, The Gilda Stories has endured as an auspiciously prescient book in its explorations of blackness, radical ecology, re-definitions of family, and yes, the erotic potential of the vampire story.
Lyric & Blake – V. Nikki Jones
Release Date: April 18, 2016
Astin “Lyric” Boyd leaves her uptight prep academy to start seventh grade at Alcorn Junior High. She quickly learns that public school means screaming teachers, popularity polls, and fashion wars. Lyric is nervous about being the lone new kid until she befriends a nerdy hipster that goes by her last name, Blake.
The inseparable duo want to mix up the social atmosphere at Alcorn, but their efforts spark a bitter rivalry with the Jacks and Jennies. The school year takes a new twist when Lyric and Blake are struck with puppy love and secret admirer messages. Growing up isn’t easy for two savvy girls who wear boy’s clothes and date girls. But their mothers and Alcorn ally, Coach Jackson, genuinely support them. Rumors, break-ups, or the principal’s office won’t stop these friends from conquering seventh grade.
From Resolute Publishing: “Lately, there’s been a lot of talk in the media about the lack of diversity among children’s literature– especially from Black authors. Therefore, we’re proud to publish a culturally relevant book with characters who are gay youth of color. Kids deserve options. Moreover, writers should assist parents by producing quality stories that are not only entertaining, but useful discussion tools.”
The Dawn of Nia – L. Cherelle
Release Date: April 25, 2016
Nia Ellis is grief stricken when, Pat, her mentor passes away. At the funeral, Nia is blindsided by one of Pat’s deep-seated secrets, which sparks feelings of betrayal. Weeks after the funeral, Nia is still figuring out how to handle her wavering emotions and the unexplained secret– until the opportunity for answers forces her to step outside of her comfort zone. Nia believes she is in control of her guarded emotions when sidetracked by curiosity and thrust into a battle zone with Pat’s sisters. Nia’s legal opposition and new love interest offend Pat’s family.
Romance was the least of Nia’s concerns until a fling matures and challenges her lingering insecurities. Nia learns there is a thin line between love and hate when former relationships and loyalties are lost in her circle of friends. In the end, she realizes that Pat’s secret was a blessing in disguise.
Visit This Website…
Lez Talk Books Radio: Lez Talk Books Radio is back! A newly launched podcast co-hosted by BLF Press publisher S. Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle, manager of Resolute Publishing, the podcast runs on Tuesday nights and the hosts discuss Black lesbian writing and talk to Black lesbian authors about their craft. If you haven’t already, please follow their YouTube channel. Their most recent interview was with K.A. Smith, author of Get at Me and many other short stories.