African American Literature 2000-2009
Don't the Moon Look Lonesome by Stanley Crouch
Don't the Moon Look Lonesome was the first and only novel by Stanley Crouch (December 14, 1945 – September 16, 2020), an American poet, music and cultural critic, syndicated columnist, and biographer. He was best known for his jazz criticism and his friendship with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Crouch also appeared in Ken Burns's 2001 documentary Jazz. In Don't the Moon Look Lonesome, the main character, Carla, is a white jazz singer in love with a black tenor saxophone player, and the story centers around her trying to hold onto that love.
Don't the Moon Look Lonesome was published by Pantheon Books in 2000. The first edition has 'First edition' stated and number line 2 4 6 8 9 7 5 3 1 on the copyright page.
The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall
This first novel by Alice Randall, The Wind Done Gone, shapes the black characters of Gone With the Wind into rich three-dimensional characters. The book follows Cynara, a slave of the famous southern daughter Scarlett O'Hara, who survives slavery and carves a life in freedom after the Civil War. Randall purposely doesn't use characters' names and places from the original Margaret Mitchell novel. As Gone With the Wind took its title from an Ernest Dowson poem that reads: "I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind" - so did Randall take Cynara's name. The estate of Margaret Mitchell filed suit in 2001 that it infringed on Mitchell's work. In 2002 Houghton Mifflin settled the case by making a donation to Morehouse College in Atlanta. The case also resulted in the book bearing "The Unauthorized Parody" seal on the cover.
Houghton Mifflin published the first edition of The Wind Done Gone in 2001.
The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
The Emperor of Ocean Park is the debut novel of law professor Stephen Carter. In the novel Talcott 'Tal' Garland, a tenured law professor at a fictional ivy league college, is put in charge of his father's 'final arrangements' after his death. His father was a successful judge who once declined a nomination to the Supreme Court because of a scandal. Tai is led down a path of murder mystery, with clues that revolve around a theme of chess. 'Ocean Park' refers to an upper-class African-American summer colony on Martha's Vineyard.
Before publication, multiple publishing houses were interested in obtaining the rights, and Carter received a considerable advance of $4.2 million for the book. After its publication, The Emperor of Ocean Park spent 11 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The novel was also selected by author John Grisham to be the first selection of the Today Show bookclub.
The initial first print run of The Emperor of Ocean Park was around 275,000 copies by Knopf in the US. Jonathan Cape published the UK version at the same time. First editions have a full number line (2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1) and stated 'First Edition' on the copyright page.
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
In The Known World, former slave Henry Townsend becomes a successful bootmaker, farmer, and proprietor of his own plantation - and slaves. After his death, his widow is lost to her grief, and his plantation falls apart. The story illuminates the complicated world of antebellum America in the South. The Known World was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2004.
Amistad published the first edition of The Known World in 2003. The first printing includes a full number line and stated ‘First edition’ on the copyright page.
Asphalt by Carl Hancock Rux
Asphalt is the debut novel of performance artist, vocalist, poet, and playwright Carl Hancock Rux. The dystopian tale takes place in a war-torn New York City, where the protagonist Racine has returned after living in France. Racine seeks healing and connection among his new roommates, including a cross-dresser that is very popular with ladies and a wounded exotic dancer. Rux completed the book while living at the famed Chelsea Hotel in New York.
Simon and Schuster published the first edition of Asphalt in 2004.
72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell
Keri’s eighteen-year-old daughter Trina suffers from bi-polar disorder that leaves her paranoid, wild and violent. The only help Keri can find is a 72-hour hold, after which Trina can check herself out. Willing to do anything to help her daughter, Keri finds an illegal intervention known as ‘The Program’ - radicals who have thrown off traditional psychiatric care systems and modeled themselves upon The Underground Railroad. Her battle for her child forces Keri to deal with her own past.
72 Hour Hold was the last novel published by Bebe Moore Campbell before her death in 2006 at the age of 56 from brain cancer
The first edition of 72 Hour Hold has stated ‘First Edition’ on the copyright page and was published by Knopf in 2005.
Soul City by Touré
In this novel, Soul City is an African-American Utopia where identity is solely judged on character, not color. Journalist Cadillac Jackson visits the city on a magazine assignment, and after falling for Mahogany Sunflower, he begins to question the African American identity he has taken on outside the city. The background and characters of the novel offer commentary on black culture and stereotypes.
Little Brown and Company published Soul City in 2004. This debut novel by journalist Toure had a first printing of 20,000 copies with ‘First Edition’ stated on the copyright page.
Lost Hearts in Italy by Andrea Lee
Moving to Rome with her husband Nick, Mira Ward, the main character of Lost Hearts in Italy, meets billionaire Zenin. After feeling adrift in her new city, she begins an affair with Zenin facilitated by her job as a travel writer. Her life is further complicated after she has a daughter, and eventually, her marriage falls apart.
Author Andrea Lee’s first book, a memoir entitled Russian Journal (1981), was nominated for a National Book Award. Born in Philadelphia, Lee has lived in Italy since 1992. Her stories often include Americans living abroad dealing with issues of race and national identity.
Random House first published Lost Hearts in Italy in 2006.
Acacia: The War With Mein by David Anthony Durham
Acacia: The War With Mein is a fantasy novel that centers on widower Leodan Akaran, ruler of the Known World, a doting father to his four children. His prosperity is tinged with the darkness that allowed him to come to such means, and when the Mein race attacks their land, he must devise a plan to get his children to safety. They later return to restore their father’s empire and avenge his death.
Acacia: The War With Mein is the first book of the Acacia Trilogy by author David Anthony Durham. The other two books in the trilogy are Acacia: The Other Lands (2009) and Acacia: The Sacred Band (2011).
Durham’s first two books, Gabriel’s Story (2001) and Walk Through Darkness (2002), were historical fiction.
Doubleday published the first edition of Acacia: The War With Mein on June 12th, 2007.
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
Set in the 1680s in the early days of America and the slave trade, A Mercy is author Toni Morrison’s ninth novel. Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch farmer and trader that is reticent to take a slave as debt but accepts Florens as payment, hoping it will help his wife, Rebekka. Rebekka is lost in melancholy over her own circumscribed circumstances as a woman in colonial times.
Knopf published the first edition of A Mercy on November 11th, 2008. ‘First Edition’ is stayed on the copyright page on the US edition, along with a $23.95 price stamp on the front dust flap. Chatto & Windus published the novel in the UK a month prior.
Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
Sag Habor is a coming-of-age novel set in 1985 that revolves around Benji Cooper, who doesn't fit into his prestigious prep school in Manhattan. An escape to Sag Harbor and a small community of black elite in the Hamptons for the summer offers him a chance for things to be different.
Published by Doubleday in 2009, the first edition has a complete number line and stated 'First Edition' on the copyright page, along with a $24.95 price stamp on the dust jacket. Endpapers of the hardcover have a drawn map of "Benji's Sag Harbor."
Sign up for our newsletter and receive coupons via email.
Author Bio: Amy C. Manikowski is a writer, bookseller, trail-diverger, history buff, and pitbull lover. She graduated from Chatham University with an MFA a while ago, and after wandering aimlessly settled in Asheville NC.