21 April 2011

2011 Street Lit Book Award Medal Winners (2010 publications)

The Street Lit Book Award Medal Committee comprises of a group of volunteer librarians and library workers from across the U.S. who work with Street Lit and its readers in public and school libraries. The Committee collected, discussed, and nominated titles based on library patron popularity, book club interest, and overall reception of the story as a valuable addition to the Street Literature genre. Three rounds of nominations resulted in the following winners for 2010 publications:

2011 Street Lit Book Award Medal Winners
(2010 publications)

        Winner: Decoded by Jay-Z  
  Committee comments: 
-- "Hands down the best non-fiction book for Street Literature,
published last year."
-- "Insightful examination of Hip Hop culture as a socio-political force."


Damaged, Kia DuPree (Grand Central Publishing)

Committee comments:
-- "An impressive debut novel that realistically depicts the inner-city lives of youth in Washington, DC, while remaining readable for teens."
-- "Searing portrait of a girl in the hood coming of age under duress."

Welfare Wifeys, K'wan (St. Martin's Griffin)
Committee comment:
-- "This latest installment to K'wan's "Hood Rat" series was great; he really brings the characters to life, especially "Animal". In reading K'wan's book the story has such a realistic feel to it, therefore making the flow of the story extremely engaging. His books are very popular in my library."

The Streets Keep Calling, Chunichi (Urban Books)
-- "Chunichi delivers a realistic, fast-paced cautionary tale of a man released from prison, trying to reboot his life, only to be driven back into his previous activities - a huge gamble that does not pay off in the end."

Diary of a Young Girl, Anthony Whyte (Urban Books)
Committee comment:
-- "This a great book about a young woman coming to terms with all the harm she caused. Mark Anthony is an intense writer of novels such as "Dogism", "Lady's Night" and the ever popular series "Streets of New York." Mark Anthony’s “Diary of a Young Girl” is relevant to the lives of today’s youth." 

2011 Street Lit Book Award Medal Committee Members (for 2010 publications):
K.C. Boyd is the Library Media Specialist at the acclaimed Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, IL. Boyd runs a city-wide book club, and she blogs about Young Adult Street Lit at http://www.missdomino.blogspot.com.

Marvin DeBose is an Adult/Teen Librarian in the Free Library of Philadelphia system. He manages the largest Street Lit library collection in Philadelphia, PA.
Marvin is also a member of the PAALA Librarian Book Club.

Connie Farley is  Reference Technician for St. Louis (MO) Public Library where she runs an Urban Lit Discussion Group that boasts a diverse membership coming from several African and Caribbean nations.

Susan McClelland is a Librarian with the Evanston Public Library in Illinois. Susan is also the convener of the PhatFiction Panel for the Public Library Association. PhatFiction runs a Street Lit discussion panel at ALA Annual, and also maintains a wiki site at http://phatfiction.wikispaces.com and a blog at http://www.phatfiction.blogspot.com.

Patrice Smith is a Young Adult Specialist at a regional public library in Charleston, SC.

Vanessa Irvin Morris is the convener of the Street Lit Book Award Medal Committee. She is the author of the Street Literature blog at http://www.streetliterature.com, and the forthcoming 2011 publication, The Readers Advisory Guide to Street Literature, published by ALA Editions.

For more information about the Street Lit Book Award Medal, contact Vanessa Irvin Morris at: vanirvinmorris@gmail.com.

15 April 2011

NEW! Priceless Inspirations by Toya Carter



Priceless Inspirations [Paperback]

Antonia Carter (Author), Lil Wayne (foreword)

Book Announcement
Lil Wayne recently posted to his Facebook that Antonia "Toya" Carter, his ex-wife and the mother of his child, has a new book about her experiences as a teenage mom (which features a foreword by Weezy himself), which comes out today, April 15, 2011. Farrah Gray Publishing doesn't seem to have gotten too much press in the standard review sources, so I wanted to pass along this potential "4P" title.

I can't say anything about its quality (I personally have no personal or professional connection to this publication beyond following Lil Wayne on Facebook and Twitter), but it's hard to argue against picking up this title for any teen or juvenile facility library collection.

Product Description
On her hit television show 'Tiny and Toya', Antonia 'Toya' Carter seems to be living the good life: she has a beautiful home, good friends, and is pursuing her dreams in fashion design. But hers has been a life of peaks and valleys. Abandoned by her parents as a child, she was passed from family member to family member as her mother sank deeper into her drug addiction. Feeling unloved and unwelcomed, Toya fell into the arms of a 15-year-old rising musical star—Dwayne Michael Carter, known these days as the rapper 'Lil Wayne'-- and ended up pregnant at the tender age of 14.

In Priceless Inspirations, Toya takes the reader through the pain of being a teenage mother struggling to raise a child while still a child herself—without the benefit of the guidance of her own mother. Using the words she recorded in the journals she kept as a teen—and the wisdom she has gained in the years since—Toya bares her own struggles, using them to offer young women real and heartfelt understanding and advice about sex, relationships, motherhood and growing up.

  *   Reading level: Ages 9-12
  *   Paperback: 240 pages
  *   Publisher: Farrah Gray Publishing, Inc. (April 15, 2011)
  *   Language: English
  *   ISBN-10: 0982702760
  *   ISBN-13: 978-0982702765

Joseph Wilk is a Teen Specialist with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA.

12 April 2011

NEW! Sister Souljah's Latest: Midnight and the Meaning of Love

Image source: sistersouljah.com
Greetings! Well today is an exciting day. It's always an exciting day when Sister Souljah drops a new book. Today is the publication date for her latest, Midnight and the Meaning of Love (2011), available wherever books are sold. 

Here is the product description, from Amazon.com:

... With Midnight and The Meaning of Love, Souljah brings to her millions of fans an adventure about young, deep love, the ways in which people across the world express their love, and the lengths that they will go to have it.

Powerful and sensual, Midnight is an intelligent, fierce fighter and Ninjutsu-trained ninja warrior. He attracts attention wherever he goes but remains unmoved by it and focuses on protecting his mother and sister and regaining his family’s fortunes. When Midnight, a devout Muslim, takes sixteen-year-old Akemi from Japan as his wife, they look forward to building a life together, but their tumultuous teenage marriage is interrupted when Akemi is kidnapped and taken back to Japan by her own father, even though the marriage was consummated and well underway.

“There’s not one drop of inferiority in my blood,” Midnight says as he first secures his mother, Umma, and sister, Naja, before setting off on a global journey to reclaim his wife. Midnight must travel across three countries and numerous cultures in his attempt to defeat his opponent. Along this magnificent journey he meets people who change him forever, even as he changes them. He encounters temptations he never would have imagined and takes risks that many a lesser man would say no to, all for the women he loves and is sworn to protect.

This title is sure to be very popular in your library and school locations. As this novel is a thick hardcover tome boasting 608 pages, I suggest purchasing like 2 copies on the onset, and then see how the hold list matures. I do expect this book to make it to the NYT Bestsellers List.

Back to reading my copy,

10 April 2011

Guest Review for: Thug Lovin' by Wahida Clark (2009)

Greetings All! This is a re-post from Say It Rah-shay's Book Review of Wahida Clark's Thug Lovin', Part 4 (2009). Reprinted with permission.

Image source: aalbc.com

Street Lit luminary Wahida Clark's fourth book, Thug Lovin',  of the Thug Love series was the first I had read. In this installment, Trae and Tasha have left the game headed to California where they hope to start a new life. Along the way shenanigans ensue and the game pulls them back in and tears them apart.

Although this urban fiction (Clark's words, per her website) is not my normal genre: when I chose Thug Lovin' I actually thought I was getting a novel about basketball players and their women. However, reading about Trae and Tasha's confused, action-packed relationship left me both wanting to read more of Wahida's books while at the same time, wanting to hide this book from my kid.

It's a pretty quick read. There were some characters that seemed to have been added on without being previously introduced or characters that had been briefly mentioned thrust from minor character status to a major role. 

Aside from navigating the characterizations, Thug Lovin' was a good read. I appreciated that the characters didn't invite any sympathy. Their actions were so over the top that I didn't worry about who, if any of them, had a happy ending. From this reading, I have gone back to read the other books in the series. I am curious to see where the story of these ladies and their men begins.

This book is definitely not for everyone. Graphic sex scenes had me blushing. But for my own personal library check out, I enjoyed it, and will read another.

Rachee Fagg is a Children's Librarian with the Delaware County (PA) Library System. Her award-winning blog, Say It Rah-Shay, features reviews of books for all ages as well as interesting and often humorous commentary on her love for life and crocheting. Rachee is also a member of the PAALA Librarian Book Club.

Image source: goodreads.com
StreetLiterature.com note: Look out for the 5th installment in the Thug Love series, Justify My Thug, due to drop, April 26, 2011.

08 April 2011

April 2011 Guest Interview: Daniel Marcou, Founder, streetfiction.org

Image source: libraryjournal.com
StreetLiterature: You are the creator of the esteemed website resource, StreetFiction.org. What inspired you to start this website?

DanMarcou: Over four years ago when I started working as a corrections librarian, I had a basic understanding of urban fiction from a previous library job in the late 1990's, but the genre had really grown since then. I started my website to immerse myself in the world of urban fiction and explore it, so I could provide better readers advising for my customers. 

I also love doing web design and this was an opportunity to develop a useful tool for readers and librarians.

StreetLiterature: As a corrections librarian, how have you seen Street Lit make an impact on your library work? on your patrons?

DanMarcou: It impacts my work by initially bringing some customers into the library and constantly being in huge demand. Many of my customers are big fans of the genre, and by knowing about urban fiction, I've established a "street cred" with them. Creating the website has given me knowledge and the opportunity to get to know authors which allows me to have in-depth conversations about street lit with my customers. For example, one recently asked when K'wan was coming out with a new book, so I emailed the author and found out, and then told the customer the following week.

By sharing a mutual interest and respect for what my customers are reading, I hope that I am in turn promoting books, reading and the library as a positive option in their lives. Also, if a customer trusts me to pick out a new urban fiction title for them to read then perhaps they'll also trust me to help them with other information needs like how to look for a job after their release, housing resources, or books about other issues they may dealing with. Street fiction is one bridge into a much bigger world of books and discovery at the library.

Regarding the books and my customers, I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "I never read before I came to jail." On the positive side of street lit, the books create a reading opportunity that my customers tell me that they can relate to. Others say they were bored by books, but that these books are interesting, as one person told me, "they're like movies in my head." In talking about urban fiction with my customers who are avid readers, I'll sometimes observe them becoming more critical of what they read. Some grow tired of the genre. They tell me that the stories are all the same or they feel that the details aren't authentic - "it'd never happen like that on the street." I truly believe that readers of any genre begin to critically think about what they are reading and develop their own criteria for what they enjoy. The more someone reads in a particular genre the more likely they are over time to expect more from it, and if it fails, they seek something new to read.

StreetLiterature: What do you think is most valuable about Street Lit? 

DanMarcou: I think that it is an exciting genre with action-packed fast paced stories that appeal to an audience that publishers neglected for far too long. As a librarian and reader, it gives me tremendous satisfaction to see someone happy to get something they want to read or to have a conversation with them about how much they enjoyed reading it. It's that simple! I'm not on a mission to move someone upward a biased spectrum of "better books", but I do want my customers to know there's a big old WIDE world of books out there waiting for them.

I also think that there's value in the genre because it's motivated many people to write books. Reading and writing are two of my favorites things! So to see people empowered to write and get published (or self-publish) is a wonderful thing!

StreetLiterature: If someone came to you asking for Street Lit, who would you recommend and why?

DanMarcou: K'wan will always be my first suggestion! I love his books for their action and stories. His book "Hoodlum" reminds my of a hood-version of Mario Puzo's Godfather. Also, characters are big appeal factor for me in everything that I read, and K'wan has a special talent for crafting wickedly good anti-hero characters like Gator, Preacher and Animal in his books. 

I'm also a big fan of Kenji Jasper's book, Snow (2007). Again, the main character is big factor of why the book appeals to me, but Jasper also fills the story with wonderful details about the character like this:

“I stopped liking school, but I never fell out of love with reading. Way after I stopped going to school, I’d still go to the library and grab books off the shelves. I liked stories about places and books that taught you how to do things and books that made me thankful for the life I had, that let me know that things could be so much worse, that I was blessed.” (p. 65)

Besides those two authors, I would suggest Sister Souljah as well as exploring the rich history of the genre and the world of old school street fiction with authors like Donald Goines, Clarence Cooper, Jr., and Nathan Heard.

Dan Marcou is a corrections librarian in Hennepin County, Minnesota. He won the 2009 ALA Movers & Shakers Award, a recognition that highlights librarians who are emerging leaders in the field. To contact Dan, you can follow him on Twitter via: @StreetFiction.

03 April 2011

Guest Review for: Diary of a Young Girl (2010)

Book Review by Connie Farley

Mark Anthony's "Diary of a Young Girl" is a great book about a young woman coming to terms with all the harm she caused. Mark Anthony is an intense writer of novels such as "Dogism", "Lady's Night" and the ever popular "Streets of New York" series which is a collaboration with several writers such as Anthony Whyte, Shannon Holmes, and Erick Gray.

"Diary of a Young Girl' tells a story of a young girl who was dealt a bad hand at a very young age. A life of abuse led the protagonist, Shayla, to make bad choices. She worked in a strip club illegally. She was a little con-artist. Finally, her world came crashing down on her when she was raped and left for dead. Did she learn her lesson??? No!!!!! She falsely accused a man of rape.
Like other young people who have caused a lot of damage out of response from being damaged, Shayla ultimately decided to take responsibility for her life, and grow up. Like the notorious  Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll just think about that tomorrow," Shayla pulled herself up by her bootstraps leaving the past behind.  She went to college. She started a career. But sometimes the past has a funny way of knocking on your door when you least expect it. 
Mark Anthony has crafted a powerful novel about a damaged child causing great pain, and seeking a life of redemption, free from that pain. A highly recommended read for young adults, aged 16 and up, and adults. A good addition to public library and high school library collections.

~~ Connie Farley ~~ has been a reference technician for the St. Louis (MO) Public Library system for over a decade. She runs an Urban Lit book club, whose members hail from several African and Caribbean nations. Connie is also serving on the inaugural committee for the 2010 Street Lit Book Award. 

01 April 2011

NYT Blog Post About Paul Langan Publishing Bluford Series

This is an important article to read.

It brings up issues of authorship and publishing in terms of race and culture. We've been talking about this in the last few posts here on the streetliterature blog. Be sure to check out the comments, too.

Image source: townsendpress.com

StreetLiterature site *ON HIATUS*

Greetings, This site is *on hiatus* until further notice. There are reasons: 1/ Since street lit has become pretty mainstream in publicat...