May 7, 2011

Urban Novel Legends

A lot of people may have noticed that Urban Books are becoming quite popular in the black community.  You even have people of other races that are finding themselves drawn to the once again introduction to Urban Novels.  Although, some may be a little more explicit than others they still seem to grab the attention of a wide mixed audience.  The point is people are reading.  It seems that we meaning "society" got so wrapped up in this new age era that we forgot the pleasure and relaxation of the simple things for entertainment.  "Reading" is the best form of entertainment because your mind is constantly working.  This ensures that we are exercising our brain in some sense.  However, we get so caught up in paying homage to the black authors that are known and taught in history or English like Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vanzant, etc. that we forget or refuse to give homage to the authors that introduced us to Urban Fiction.  Two Authors that I know for a fact deserves to be credited for their style and topics of writing is Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.
Robert Beck a.k.a. Iceberg Slim was  a reformed pimp, hustler, drug addict that was born in 1918.  He was introduced to prostitution when he was 18 yrs old.  He didn't stop until he was 42 yrs old and did a 10-month prison stretch in solitary confinement.  It was then that he decide to write about his past.  He then moved to California in the 1960's to pursue writing under the pen-name Iceberg Slim.  But, he also changed is legal name from Robert Maupin to Robert Beck.  The first book Iceberg published was his autobiography, Pimp.  The picture above is the image of it's cover.  However, The Black Panthers didn't take to the former pimp/hustler because of his exploitation of women.  This didn't matter because by 1969, Pimp became the biggest selling book on Holloway Publishing.  Pimp set the platform for another reformed pimp and junkie,Donald Goines.  Iceberg Slim took ill after authoring  several more best sellers and passed at the age of 72.  He opened and paved a way for the "hood" form of Urban writing.  The game was left for Urban writers that grew really big from documenting with pen and pad the everyday hustle in the hood.
Three black women took this art and mastered the craft of this form of writing.  Yes, there were men  that wrote about inner-city happenings.  However,  these three women took it by storm and hooked to this very day.  One particularly doesn't want to be labeled an Urban Novelist.  She feels that the similarity relates to being ghetto.  However, this book should be a requirement to read in all predominantly black high schools across the country.  The Coldest Winter Ever has been the story of many teenage black girls for so long and will continue to be if no one steps in.  Check out Sister Souljah's interview in USA today by Bob Minzesheimer.   

Sixteen years ago, she made headlines when Bill Clinton, in his first presidential campaign, criticized Souljah's racially charged remarks.

These days, she prefers talking about her best-selling novels, The Coldest Winter(1999) and its new prequel, Midnight: A Gangster Love Story (Atria, $26.95).
Both are raw cautionary tales about drugs and violence in New York. She calls them "literature. Period."
"Shakespeare wrote about love. I write about love. Shakespeare wrote about gang warfare, family feuds and revenge. I write about all the same things."
Her publisher says The Coldest Winter has 1 million copies in print. Midnight made its debut on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list last week at No. 31. This week it's No. 54.
Souljah isn't surprised her new book is selling. For nine years, her readers have been asking about Midnight, a handsome, fiercely proud Sudanese immigrant who had a supporting role in her first novel.
"Some girls even wanted his phone number," she says. "I had to tell them, 'He's fictional.' "
Souljah says she spotted Mark Edwards, the young man who's pictured on the front of the book, at a mall in New Jersey. "I said: 'That's the face. That's Midnight. He glows.' " The photos were taken by her husband, Mike Rich.
In the novel, Midnight, who immigrates to New York at 7, comes of age, struggling to uphold his Islamic values amid urban violence. Souljah wrote it to explain "how he was raised and got to be 
the man he is."
Now you have author and publishing owner, Teri Woods.  Teri Woods is a Philadelphia native that literally became the Suge Knight of the writing industry.  True To The Game was Teri's self published book that she sold hand to hand out of the trunk of her car.  This book was great and deep.  Allegedly, Teri was suppose to be writing the events in True To The Game for  Landa Hawkins.  It has been rumored to in fact  be the life of Landa Hawkins and if you purchase Landa's first book, "The Last Route" you can basically piece the clues and similarities together.  Anyway, this book also opened the Urban community to reading.  Check out Teri Woods as she tell how she self-promoted her first book below:

But, the author that has us wanting more and more is Wahida Clark.  People literally stalk book stores waiting for her new books.  Not once have anyone read a book by Wahida Clark and was disappointed with the outcome.  When you hear her interview you get a clear view of where her writing is coming from.  Check out her interview posted below...

I know that there is a lot of authors that I didn't name including my very bestfriend since kindergarten, Regan Wald.  She is the author of Ghlantic.  But, my point is to inform those who just started reading Urban fiction of those who took the literature game and ran with it after Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines.  I thank you all for visiting my site and may God continuously bless you...Peace.....

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