What is the Best Month to Read Black Authors?

Every month, silly.  And here are some excellent options, from A to , well, W.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Gorgeous, poetic novel about four young African American girls who grow up, grow close, and grow apart in the Brooklyn of the 1970s. The novel begins as two of the girls – now grown women – run into each other on the subway after years of separation. One of the women rises and, although she knows her old friend expects her to come over and “hug the years away,” instead gets off the train. The scene both startles and puts the reader on notice to expect a wallop from this brief book that deals with memory, grief, racism, white flight, male violence, and the power of women’s friendships, with language so sharply honed you almost don’t feel it stab you in the heart.

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An Interview with Lynn Kanter | Washington Independent Review of Books


Photo: lesliemaitland.com

I’m delighted to share this wonderful interview by the writer Martha Toll in the Washington Independent Review of Books.  It’s about the publishing journey from idea to rejection letters to book to audiobook – and what Toll calls “the novelist’s magic act.”

An Interview with Lynn Kanter | Washington Independent Review of Books

30 Women Novelists You Should Know – #30 Vanessa Garcia

Vanessa Garcia

White Light is a gorgeous novel about difficult subjects: loss, regret, and the craving of artists to create art. Veronica Gonzalez is a young artist in Miami, the daughter of Cuban immigrants. She is barely scraping by when she is offered a gallery showing that could finally fling open the doors to the art world for her. Just as she begins to prepare for this show, her father dies suddenly, throwing her into grief and the chaos of their tumultuous and unresolved relationship.

The color of faraway places

The book is beautifully designed, from the front cover – a section of a painting by the author – to the chapter headings, many of which offer a scribble of color followed by a brief, often poetic, definition. Orange, for example, is “color of Florida and faraway places.” Silver is “a spiritual color. Color of the moon.” Indigo is “the color you see glinting off a non-recorded DVD.”

The book is filled with lyrical language, such as this description of a woman talking, “a slight Caribbean accent tracing her words like smoke.” The book gives the reader a dynamic view of the creative process from the inside, a glimpse of the full spectrum of love and loss, and a reason to look forward eagerly to future work from this multi-talented writer and artist.

Best books of 2015

White Light is the second novel produced by the feminist publisher Shade Mountain Press. The first was my own novel, Her Own Vietnam. While I may not be the most objective reviewer of this novel, I am far from alone in my admiration of it. Among many other accolades, White Light was named by NPR as one of the best books of 2015, under the category “Seriously Great Writing.”

Get a free copy

I’m please to have copy of White Light to give away. To participate in the giveaway, contact me and let me know you want a copy. I’ll randomly select a name. If it’s yours, I’ll mail you a free book. (Sorry, U.S. addresses only.)


It’s Egg Heaven Day!

Egg Heaven cover

Today, October 1, 2014, two exciting things are happening. First, the nation’s newest feminist publishing house – Shade Mountain Press – is bursting onto the literary scene with its first book.

Second, Shade Mountain’s first book – the short story collection Egg Heaven, by Robin Parks – is finally available.

The critics love it!

In Foreword Reviews, Sara Budzik wrote, “Strong characters immersed in gentle moments of great significance set against a backdrop of struggling diners and restaurants along the southwest coast give Egg Heaven a flavor of its own. Robin Parks has carefully caressed each detail of her writing into focused visions of some of the most complex human emotions—grief, love, resentment, redemption… Parks is a master of the short story.”

In Booklist, Ellen Loughran said, “This engaging collection, with its predominance of female characters, appeals most strongly to women but will reward any short fiction reader who picks it up.”

Now it’s your turn.

Both of these are influential journals read and respected by booksellers. So the fact that they love Egg Heaven is important. But not as important as what you think.

If you appreciate writing that shimmers with quiet beauty, want to immerse yourself in a Southern California no tourist will ever see, hope to understand all the different ways a human can hunger – then go to Egg Heaven.

I won’t even pretend to be objective

The author, Robin Parks – who won the Raymond Carver Short Story Award – is a long-time friend of mine. And Egg Heaven is the first book published by Shade Mountain Press, which in one month will publish my novel.

So no, I won’t even pretend to objective. But it no longer matters what I think about the book. Egg Heaven has been born.

You can order Egg Heaven here. Savor the nine stories. Then let me know what you think. 

Egg Heaven has arrived!

Egg Heaven cover

If you love short stories, appreciate writing that shimmers with quiet beauty, long to be transformed by brief, intense immersions into other people’s harrowing and astonishing lives – then go to Egg Heaven.

Nine short stories about waitresses who work in diners and customers who can barely afford to eat there. Nine living worlds created in a Southern California no tourist will ever see. Diverse characters connected by filaments of hope amidst all the different ways a human can hunger.

I won’t even pretend

The author, Robin Parks – who won the Raymond Carver Short Story Award – is a long-time friend of mine. And Egg Heaven is the first book published by Shade Mountain Press, which in November will publish my novel.

So no, I won’t even pretend to objective. But let me tell you some of the things I love about this book.

Let me count the ways

With a few deft strokes, Robin creates indelible characters. For example, one character takes up less than two pages, yet is unforgettable as she tries to recruit a desperate young woman into the Marines by assuring her she will save money because “quite frankly honey, you will be too dog tired to spend it.”

The book creates a powerful sense of place. Long Beach, California and the elements themselves serve as characters. I reveled in descriptions such as “the long sigh of the outgoing surf,” and “So deep was the strength of the ocean that she could feel it shudder beneath her.”

Pages glint with beautiful writing and haunting evocations of loss. For instance, we experience a young woman playing her section of a piano duet she used to play with her twin sister, who has recently been killed. “She played her part like the one leaf in a bush that shivers in the wind when all the others are still.”

Don’t take my word for it

It’s not just me – lots of people love Egg Heaven. In the influential journal Foreword Reviews, Sara Budzik wrote, “Parks is a master of the short story and of using elements of place and resource as common threads between people. She connects lost souls to something they found in these diners and restaurants, and it connects us all with the poetry of the human experience.”

The book’s official publication date is October 1. But you can pre-order now if you click here. Read Egg Heaven, and let me know what you think. You won’t be sorry.

To be read: Egg Heaven