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Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
Jan 2003
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A woman of enormous talent, remarkable drive, and rare intellectual prowess, Zora Neale Hurston published four novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, many short stories, and several articles and plays over a career that spanned more than thirty years. Although she enjoyed some popularity during her lifetime, her greatest acclaim has come posthumously. All of her books were out of print when she died in poverty in 1960, but today nearly every black woman writer of significance—including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker—acknowledges Hurston as a literary foremother. And her masterpiece,Their Eyes Were Watching God, has become a crucial part of the American literary canon. Yet, despite the recent renewed interest in Hurston’s work, she remains, as a friend and contemporary described her, a woman half in shadow.
Wrapped in Rainbows—the first biography of Zora Neale Hurston in twenty-five years—illuminates the complexities of an extraordinary life. Born in Alabama in 1891, Hurston moved with her family to Eatonville, Florida, when she was still a toddler. In this close-knit community—the first incorporated all-black town in America—she spent a pleasant childhood, happily imbibing the rich language and folk culture of the rural black South. When Hurston was still a girl, her mother died, and her father’s swift remarriage led to the family’s dispersal. Hurston spent the next decade wandering in search of parental figures, working menial jobs, and charting her own course into adulthood.
Reinventing herself at the age of twenty-six, she entered high school in Baltimore by claiming to be ten years younger—a fiction she would maintain throughout her life. Hurston went on to attend Howard University and Barnard College, and during this time launched her writing career in the midst of the blossoming Harlem Renaissance. In New York, she developed relationships with luminaries such as Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters, Fannie Hurst, and Carl Van Vechten. Hurston periodically left New York to travel the country (and the world) collecting black music, poetry, and literature—becoming one of the most important folklore collectors of her time, as well as one of the most enduring writers of her century.

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The Condemnation of Little B.
Dec 2003
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Through the story of a thirteen-year-old black boy condemned to life in prison, Elaine Brown exposes the "New Age" racism that effectively condemns millions of poor African-Americans to a third world life. The story of "Little B" is riveting, a stunning example of the particular burden racism imposes on black youths. Most astonishing, almost all of the officials involved in bringing him to "justice" are black.
Michael Lewis was officially declared a ward of the state at age eleven, and then systematically ignored until his arrest for murder. Brown wondered how this boy could possibly have aroused so much public resentment, why he was being tried (and roundly condemned, labeled a "super-predator") in the press. Then she met Michael and began investigating his case on her own. Brown adeptly builds a convincing case that the prosecution railroaded Michael, looking for a quick, symbolic conviction. His innocence is almost incidental to the overwhelming evidence that the case was unfit for trial. Little B was convicted long before he came to court, and effectively sentenced years before, when the "safety net" allowed him to slip silently down. Brown cites studies and cases from all over America that reveal how much more likely youth of color are to be convicted of crimes and to serve long—even life—sentences, and how deeply the new black middle class is implicated in this devastating reality.

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The Portable Promised Land
Nov 2003
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Welcome to Soul City, the fictional American metropolis where magic is as natural as sunshine. With this inspired collection—in which irreverent humor and sharp-eyed social satire combine to produce unforgettable stories—Toure emerges as one of the most talented and inventive young writers at work today.

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Lion's Blood
Oct 2003
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Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
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The novel takes place in approximately 1850 AD, and involves two main families: one of Islamic African aristocrats, the other of Druidic Irish slaves. It is a combination of Gone with the Wind and Roots, seen through a dark glass. Two young men, one of each genetic line, must deal with their world and each other.

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Mojo: Conjure Stories
Sep 2003
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Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
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When enslaved people were brought from the western part of Africa to the Americas, they were forbidden to speak their native languages or practice their religions in the New World.

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