Literature Nominees

With so much massive talent and so many great candidates to choose from, it's simply a shame that only one in each category can prevail.

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  • Outstanding Literary Work - Fiction


    Anybody’s Daughter

    Pamela Samuels Young (Goldman House Publishing)

    In this fast-paced thriller, award-winning author Pamela Samuels Young sheds light on a serious contemporary issue-child sex trafficking-and also shares a cautionary tale for parents and teens alike.


    A Deeper Love Inside: The Porscha Santiaga Story

    Sister Souljah (Atria/Emily Bestler Books)

    Fierce, raw, and filled with adventure and emotional intensity, A Deeper Love Inside is an unforgettable coming-of-age story in the words of Porsche Santiaga, Winter’s younger sister.


    Who Asked You?

    Terry McMillan (Viking)

    Family ties are tested and transformed in the new novel from #1 New York Times best-selling author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. With her wise, wry, and poignant novels of families and friendships.


    Never Say Never: A Novel

    Victoria Christopher Murray (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster)

    When Miriam’s husband, Chauncey, dies in a fire, Miriam feels like her life is over. Miriam’s sister-friend Emily—and Emily's husband, Jamal, are there to comfort her. Jamal was Chauncey’s best buddy and knows it is right to shepherd Miriam through grief.


    Little Green: An Easy Rawlins Mystery

    Walter Mosley (Doubleday)

    We last saw Easy in 2007's Blonde Faith, fighting for his life after his car plunges over a cliff. True to form, the tough WWII veteran survives, and soon his murderous sidekick Mouse has him back cruising the mean streets of L.A., in all their psychedelic 1967 glory, to look for a young black man, Evander "Little Green" Noon, who disappeared during an acid trip.

  • Outstanding Literary Work - Non-Fiction


    Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery

    Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer (Temple University Press)

    Renowned photographic historian Deborah Willis and historian of slavery Barbara Krauthamer have amassed 150 photographs—some never before published—from the antebellum days of the 1850s through the New Deal era of the 1930s.


    The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross

    Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Donald Yacovone (SmileyBooks)

    The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross is the companion book to the six-part, documentary series of the same name by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. airing on PBS.


    Bartlett’s Familiar Black Quotations: 5,000 Years of Literature, Lyrics, Poems, Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs from Voices Around the World

    Retha Powers (Little, Brown and Company)

    A comprehensive, all-new collection bringing together the most thoughtful, inspiring, and wisest voices from the Black diaspora across history.


    Letters to an Incarcerated Brother: Encouragement, Hope, and Healing for Inmates and Their Loved Ones

    Hill Harper (Gotham Books)

    New York Times best-selling author Hill Harper discusses the letters he receives from inmates looking for inspiration, guidance, and a vision for their future and provides advice and inspiration for them and their loved ones.


    High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society

    Carl Hart (HarperCollins, Harper)

    A groundbreaking neuroscientist shares the harrowing and inspiring story of his life growing up in one of Miami‰Ûªs toughest neighborhoods and reveals how it led him to his pioneering work that is redefining our ideas about drug addiction.

  • Outstanding Literary Work - Debut Author


    Nine Years Under

    Sheri Booker (Gotham Books)

    Spoken word artist and recent Goucher MFA graduate Sheri Booker’s dazzling debut memoir is a fascinating and darkly funny coming-of-age story about Sheri’s nine years – beginning when she was just fifteen years old – working in a black funeral home in Baltimore.


    Ghana Must Go

    Taiye Selasi (The Penguin Press)

    A renowned surgeon and failed husband, Kweku Sai dies suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of his death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before.


    Better Than Good Hair – The Curly Girl Guide to Healthy Gorgeous Natural Hair!

    Alicia Walton with Ernessa T. Carter (Harper Collins- Amistad)

    Tired of damage from expensive chemical treatments and artificial enhancers, women are going natural thanks to Nikki Walton, the most revered expert on textured hair.


    The Returned

    Jason Mott (Harlequin Mira)

    Jason Mott is the author of New York Times bestseller, The Returned. This highly acclaimed novel was a People Book Pick and Essence called it “one of the most emotionally resonant works in many seasons.” The Returned is a moving tale of a family caught in a worldwide event in which loved ones return from the dead exactly as they last were in life.


    On The Come Up

    Hannah Weyer (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)

    Written in an electrifying and intimate urban vernacular, On the Come Up introduces a heroine whose voice is irrepressible, dynamic, and unstintingly honest. Thirteen-year-old AnnMarie Walker dreams of a world beyond Far Rockaway.

  • Outstanding Literary Work - Biography / Auto Biography


    The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

    Jeanne Theoharis (Beacon Press)

    The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement.


    Mom & Me & Mom

    Maya Angelou (Random House)

    For the first time, Maya Angelou, one of America's most celebrated writers, a living legend treasured by world leaders, entertainers, and book lovers of all ages-shares the deepest personal story of her life: the story of her relationship with her mother.


    Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker

    Stanley Crouch (HarperCollins, Harper)

    The first installment of Stanley Crouch’s long-awaited life of Charlie Parker—an intimate, groundbreaking portrait of the genius as a young man.


    Buck: A Memoir

    M.K. Asante (Spiegel & Grau)

    A rebellious boy's journey through the wilds of urban America and the shrapnel of a self-destructing family, Buck is the riveting story of a generation—told through Asante's dazzlingly poetic voice. The Philadelphia Inquirer called Asante "a rare, remarkable talent that brings to mind the great artists of the Harlem Renaissance.


    Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington

    Terry Teachout (Gotham Books)

    The definitive biography of Duke Ellington the most important jazz composer of the 20th century written by the highly acclaimed author of Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong and drama critic of the Wall Street Journal.

  • Outstanding Literary Work - Instructional


    The Vegucation of Robin: How Real Food Saved My Life

    Robin Quivers (Avery)

    Radio and television personality and Howard Stern’s sidekick Robin Quivers presents her manifesto, expounds on her decision to become a vegan, and offers 80 vegan recipes for the home cook.


    The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs

    Kevin Johnson (Johnson Media Inc.)

    To achieve unimaginable business success and financial wealth, you have to change the way you think. In other words, you must develop the Entrepreneur Mind. In a praiseworthy effort to distill some of the most important lessons of entrepreneurship, Kevin D. Johnson, president of multimillion-dollar company Johnson Media Inc. and a serial entrepreneur for several years, shares the essential beliefs, characteristics, and habits of elite entrepreneurs.


    Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even If You Don’t Have It)

    Sherri Shepherd with Billie Fitzpatrick (HarperCollins, It Books)

    An easy to follow program for losing weight, eliminating insulin dependence, and making your mind and body healthier—which Sherri Shepherd created for herself after she was diagnosed with the same disease that killed her mother at the age of 41 and plagues millions of Americans, Type 2 diabetes. A New York Times bestseller.


    Recruiting and Retaining Culturally Different Students in Gifted Education

    Donna Ford, Ph.D. (Prufrock Press Inc.)

    One pervasive educational issue is the national underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic students in gifted education. Virtually every school district is grappling with having too few students from these groups identified as gifted and served in gifted classes and programs.


    Do I Look Like An ATM? A Parent’s Guide to Raising Financially Responsible African American Children

    Sabrina Lamb (Chicago Review Press)

    With step-by-step advice and exercises for parents and young people, Do I Look Like an ATM? sets out to establish new financial behavior so children will avoid the personal economic problems that have plagued the culture. The book guides parents through self-examination of their financial habits.

  • Outstanding Literary Work - Poetry


    Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers

    Frank X Walker (University of Georgia Press)

    Around the void left by the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963, the poems in this collection speak, unleashing the strong emotions both before and after the moment of assassination. Poems take on the voices of those who knew him. Except for the book's title,"Turn me loose," which were his final words, Evers remains in this collection silent.


    Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid

    Nikki Giovanni (HarperCollins, William Morrow)

    A new collection of poems and poetic prose by the literary legend Nikki Giovanni.


    The Cineaste: Poems

    A. Jordan (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.)

    The Cineaste is a montage of poems, wherein film serves as the setting for contemplative trances, memoir, and pure fantasy. At its center is a sonnet sequence that imagines the struggle of pioneer filmmaker Oscar Micheaux against D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, which Micheaux saw not only as racist but also as the start of a powerful new art form.



    Jamaal May (Alice James Books)

    In May's debut collection, poems buzz and purr like a well-oiled chassis. Grit, trial, and song thrum through tight syntax and deft prosody. From the resilient pulse of an abandoned machine to the sinuous lament of origami animals, here is the ever-changing hum that vibrates through us all, connecting one mind to the next.


    The Collected Poems of Ai

    Roslynn O'Carroll (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.)

    Before her untimely death in 2010, Ai, known for her searing dramatic monologues, was hailed as “one of the most singular voices of her generation” (New York Times Book Review). Now for the first time, all eight books by this essential and uniquely American poet have been gathered in one volume.

  • Outstanding Literary Work - Children


    Nelson Mandela

    Kadir Nelson (HarperCollins Children's Books / Katherine Tegen Books)

    Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy's determination to change South Africa and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for people of all colors. Readers will be inspired by Mandela's triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.


    Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me

    Daniel Beaty (Author), Bryan Collier (Illustrator) (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

    A boy grows up without his father, but is inspired by a letter his father leaves behind. This story celebrates a father’s love, and encourages children to follow their dreams.


    Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song

    Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author), Brian Pinkney (Illustrator) (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

    When Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, he was joined by world-renowned gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. The stories of these powerful voices are told side-by-side.


    I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl!

    Betty K. Bynum (Author), Claire Armstrong-Parod (Illustrator) (Dream Title Publishing)

    I'm A Pretty Little Black Girl! introduces adorable Mia, who wakes with her hair "just-a-going every which-a-ways!" With her abundant energy and joy leading the way, readers follow Mia as she plays with her friends who are pretty little Black girls in all shades, hair textures, shapes and sizes. With good manners, love and a future filled with brilliance, Mia finds that "Pretty" is within herself and her friends -- and being pretty is way beyond what the mirror shows.


    You Never Heard of Willie Mays?!

    Jonah Winter (Author), Terry Widener (Illustrator) (RH Childrens Books; Schwartz & Wade)

    He hit 660 home runs (fourth best of all time), had a lifetime batting average of .302, and is second only to Babe Ruth on The Sporting News's list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players." Many believe him to be the best baseball player that ever lived. His name is Willie Mays.

  • Outstanding Literary Work - Youth / Teens


    Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers

    Tanya Lee Stone (Candlewick Press)

    They became America’s first black paratroopers. Why was their story never told? Sibert Medalist Tanya Lee Stone reveals the history of the Triple Nickles during World War II.


    Raising the Bar

    Gabrielle Douglas (Zondervan)

    In this four-color inspirational title, two-time Olympic gold medal–winning gymnast Gabrielle Douglas shares photos, quotes, and some of her favorite things, as well as tips on how to stay healthy, look your best, and keep strong under pressure.


    God’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens

    Romal Tune (Judson Press)

    Highlighting noted "at-risk" youth in the Bible and sharing his own story of growing up in poverty amid crime and violence, Rev. Romal Tune details how obstacles can become opportunities through faith.



    Walter Dean Myers (Scholastic Press/Scholastic)

    In Invasion, Walter Dean Myers brilliantly renders the realities of World War II. Josiah Wedgewood and Marcus Perry are on their way to an uncertain future. Their whole lives are ahead of them, yet at the same time, death's whisper is everywhere.


    Serafina’s Promise: A Novel in Verse

    Anne E. Burg (Scholastic Press/Scholastic)

    Award-winning author Ann E. Burg delicately weaves together an elegant and emotional narrative in Serafina’s Promise, an exquisitely crafted novel-in-verse about a determined young girl living in poverty in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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