February is Black History Month, and we have selected a few of our favorite authors to start your reading list.
In Fire Shut Up in My Bones, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow mines the rich poetry of the out-of-time Louisiana town where he grew up — a place where slavery’s legacy felt close, reverberating in the elders’ stories and in the near-constant wash of violence. Blow was a featured author at the 2014 Festival.
James McBride’s novel takes a pivotal, troubled sequence in American history—John Brown’s abolitionist campaign—and retells it in a voice as comic and original as any we have heard since Mark Twain. James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the American classicThe Color of Water and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee. The Good Lord Bird is the 2013 National Book Award Winner for Fiction. McBride did double time at our 2013 Festival, speaking at our gala and peforming with his band in the Music Tent at the Festival
In Citizen, Claudia Rankine recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society. Citizen is a 2014 National Book Award Finalist for Poetry.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Brown Girl Dreaming is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature. Woodson was an exciting addition to the 2014 Festival author lineup.
What would you recommend? Tweet us Black History Month reading suggestions at @texasbookfest.