By Karen E. Quinones Miller
Okay, folks… it’s time to exercise your right to vote!
Not for some politician who you can only hope will actually fulfill promises made on the campaign trail, but for a book you’ve read and loved this past year. A book you think deserves an award.
But there’s a catch. You must be an NAACP member in order to cast a ballot for the 46th Annual NAACP Image Awards.
The Image Awards were established in 1967 to celebrate the achievements of people of color in movies, television, music and literature; accomplishments largely ignored by White America.
For instance, the Academy Awards have been around since 1929. But of the 340 trophies awarded in acting categories (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress) since then, only 15 have gone to African-Americans. That’s about five percent.
The percentage is a little higher for the Emmys and Grammys, but pretty dismal — less than two percent — for Broadway’s Tony Award.
The NAACP Image Awards have 31 competitive categories, eight of which are for excellence in literature. And since this is The Literary Lounge, those are the categories being covered here.
Here are the nominees…
Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction
‘A Wanted Woman’, Eric Jerome Dickey (Penguin Books)
‘An Untamed State’, Roxane Gay (Grove Press)
‘Another Woman’s Man’, Shelly Ellis (Kensington Books)
‘Momma: Gone’, Nina Foxx (Brown Girls Publishing)
‘The Prodigal Son’, Kimberla Lawson Roby – Grand Central Publishing
The nomination for ‘Momma: Gone’ – a wonderful story about a young girl’s struggle with losing her mother to breast cancer – is particularly pleasing to Victoria Christopher Murray, co-founder of Brown Girl Books, since her publishing house has been in business less than a year.
“We want to be known as the best in books, and readers are taking notice,” said Murray. “We take this quality thing seriously, and being nominated shows us we’re on the right track.”
Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction
‘Bad Feminist’, Roxane Gay (Harper Collins)
‘Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption’, Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel and Grau)
‘Place Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America’, Sheryll Cashin (Beacon Press)
‘The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act’, Clay Risen (Bloomsbury Press)
‘Who We Be: The Colorization of America’, Jeff Chang (St. Martin’s Press)
Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author
‘Forty Acres’, Dwayne Alexander Smith (Atria)
‘Queen Sugar,’ Natalie Baszile (Pamela Dorman Books/Penguin Random House)
‘Remedy for a Broken Angel’, Toni Ann Johnson (Nortia Press)
‘The 16th Minute of Fame: An Insider’s Guide for Maintaining Success Beyond 15 Minutes of Fame’, Darrell Miller (Dunham Books)
‘Time of the Locust’, Morowa Yejide ( Atria Books)
“I feel honored and thrilled,” said Smith, author of Forty Acres, an enthralling thriller challenging a black attorney’s true feelings about slavery. “When I was a kid growing up in the South Bronx, because I was into writing and filmmaking, my friends would say things like, ‘Dwayne isn’t black.’ I guess my Image Award nomination proves them wrong.”
Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography
‘Breaking Ground: My Life in Medicine’, Dr. Louis Sullivan with David Chanoff (University of Georgia Press)
‘Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair)’, Rosie Perez (Crown Archetype)
‘Life in Motion’, Misty Copeland (Touchstone)
‘Mayor for Life’, Marion Barry and Omar Tyree (Strebor Books)
‘Stand Up Straight and Sing!’, Jessye Norman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
“I know Marion (Barry) is very proud right now,” said New York Times bestselling author (and Philadelphia native), Tyree. “It was a tremendous honor to have been able to document the life of story of a true bold, courageous, charismatic and caring man for the people.”
Tyree added that it was the late Civil Rights leader’s wish that his story be made into a movie . . . starring Jamie Foxx, no less!
Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional
‘101 Scholarship Applications: What It Takes to Obtain a Debt-Free College Education’, Gwen Richardson (Cushcity Communications)
‘10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse’, JJ Smith (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster)
‘Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African’, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed’, Bryant Terry (Ten Speed Press)
‘Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System’, Robbin Shipp and Nick Chiles (Agate Bolden)
‘Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and in Life’, Joe Brewster, Michele Stephenson, and Hilary Beard (Spiegel & Grau)
Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry
‘Citizen: An American Lyric’, Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)
‘Digest’, Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books)
‘The New Testament’, Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)
‘The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013’, Derek Walcott, Selected by Glyn Maxwell (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
‘We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters’, Brian Gilmore (Cherry Castle Publishing, LLC)
Outstanding Literary Work – Children
‘Beautiful Moon’, Tonya Bolden (Author), Eric Velasquez (Illustrator) (Abrams/Abrams Books for Young Readers)
‘Little Melba and Her Big Trombone’, Katheryn Russell-Brown (Author), Frank Morrison (Illustrator) (Lee & Low Books)
‘Malcolm Little’, Ilyasah Shabazz (Author), AG Ford (Illustrator) (Simon & Schuster)
‘Searching for Sarah Rector’, Tonya Bolden (Abrams/Abrams Books for Young Readers)
‘Dork Diaries 8: Tales From a Note-So-Happily Ever After’, Rachel Renee Russell with Nikki Russell and Erin Russell (Simon & Schuster)
Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens
‘Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America’, Russell Freedman (Holiday House)
‘Brown Girl Dreaming’, Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books)
‘Revolution’, Deborah Wiles (Scholastic Press)
‘The Freedom Summer Murders’, Don Mitchell (Scholastic Press)
‘The Red Pencil’, Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author), Shane Evans (Illustrator) (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
You have until Jan. 21 to go to http://www.naacpimageawards.net and cast your vote for your favorite book/author. But, remember, only NAACP members are eligible to vote. Bet you wish you remembered to pay your dues, now!
The 46th Annual NAACP Image Awards will be broadcast on Friday, Feb. 6 on TV-One.