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L-R: Petina Gappah, Margaret Busby, Lupita Nyong’o nominated for NAACP Image Awards.

The Margaret Busby-edited anthology New Daughters of Africa, Petina Gappah’s novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light, and Lupita Nyong’o’s children’s book Sulwe have been nominated for the 51st NAACP Image Awards. New Daughters of Africa and Out of Darkness are recognized for “Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction,” and Sulwe is up for “Outstanding Literary Work – Children.” The NAACP Image Awards, which is open to public voting, “honors the accomplishments of people of color in the fields of television, music, literature, and film and also recognizes individuals or groups who promote social justice through creative endeavors.” Nyong’o is also in the running for “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture,” for her double turn in Us.

Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the US.

Busby, Britain’s first black female publisher who is chairing the 2020 Booker Prize panel, edited New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of 20th- and 21st-Century Writing by Women of African Descent as a sequel to her groundbreaking Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writings by Women of African Descent from the Ancient Egyptian to the Present (1992). The anthology “charts a contemporary literary canon from 1900 and captures their [female writers of African descent’s] continuing literary contribution as never before.” Among its 200 contributors are Aminatta Forna, Bernadine Evaristo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Imbolo Mbue, Warsan Shire, Zadie Smith, Patience Agbabi, Sefi Atta, Ayesha Harruna Attah, Malorie Blackman, Tanella Boni, Diana Evans, Danielle Legros Georges, Bonnie Greer, Andrea Levy, Yewande Omotoso, Nawal El Saadawi, and Andrea Stuart.

Image from NY Times.

Gappah‘s novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light was released last September by Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner. Told by a woman and a man, it details the 285-day journey by a party carrying the Irish explorer Dr. David Livingstone’s dead body to the Indian Ocean coast. The publication of the highly anticipated book, the Zimbabwean author’s fourth, was preceded by a profile of her in The New York Times.

Here’s an excerpt.

Image from Lupita’s Twitter.

Nyong’o’s Sulwe, published last January by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, will be released in West Africa this year by Narrative LandscapeSulwe, which means “star” in Lupita’s native language Luo, follows a 5-year-old in Kenya who has the darkest skin colour in her family, which leaves her uncomfortable and in pursuit of a way to lighten her skin. She then “embarks on a whimsical adventure in the night sky that, coupled with advice from her mother, helps her see beauty differently.”

“Representation across entertainment and the arts has profound meaning and unparalleled power to shape perceptions, influence culture, and galvanize communities,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “This year’s nominees have conveyed a wide range of authentic stories and experiences that have resonated with many, and we’re proud to continue celebrating their outstanding achievements and performances.”

Here are the literature categories.

Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction

  • “New Daughters of Africa” – Margaret Busby (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • “Out of Darkness, Shining Light” – Petina Gappah (Simon and Schuster)
  • “Red at the Bone” – Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead Books PRH)
  • “The Revisioners” – Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Counter Point Press)
  • “The Water Dancer” – Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World)

Outstanding Literary Work – Nonfiction

  • “Breathe: A Letter to My Sons” – Dr. Imani Perry (Beacon Press)
  • “STONY THE ROAD: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow” – Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Penguin Press)
  • “The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations” – Toni Morrison (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • “The Yellow House” – Sarah M. Broom (Grove Atlantic)
  • “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays” – Damon Young (HarperCollins Publishers)

Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author

  • “American Spy” – Lauren Wilkinson (Random House)
  • “I Am Dance: Words and Images of the Black Dancer” – Hal Banfield (Author), Javier Vasquez (Illustrator), (Literary Revolutionary)
  • “More Than Pretty: Doing The Soul Work To Uncover Your True Beauty ” – Erica Campbell (Howard Books)
  • “Such A Fun Age” – Kiley Reid (Penguin Publishing Group)
  • “The Farm” – Joanne Ramos (Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography

  • “Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System” – Cyntoia Brown-Long (Atria Books)
  • “Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward” – Valerie Jarrett (Viking Press)
  • “More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)” – Elaine Welteroth (Viking Press)
  • “My Name Is Prince” – Randee St. Nicholas (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • “The Beautiful Ones” – Prince (Author), Dan Piepenbring (Edited by), (Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional

  • “Inspire Your Home: Easy, Affordable Ideas to Make Every Room Glamorous” – Farah Merhi (Tiller Press)
  • “Letters to the Finishers (who struggle to finish)” – Candace E. Wilkins (New Season Books)
  • “More Than Pretty: Doing the Soul Work that Uncovers Your True Beauty” – Erica Campbell (Howard Books)
  • “Vegetables Unleashed” – José Andres (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • “Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence, And Opportunity For Black Women In America” – Karen Arrington (Author), Joanna Price (Illustrator), Sheryl Taylor (Forward) (Mango Publishing)

Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry

  • “A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland” – DaMaris B. Hill (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • “Felon: Poems” – Reginald Dwayne Betts (W.W. Norton Company)
  • “Honeyfish” – Lauren K. Alleyne (New Issues Poetry and Prose)
  • “Mistress” – Chet’la Sebree (New Issue Poetry and Prose)
  • “The Tradition” – Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)

Outstanding Literary Work – Children

  • “A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation” – Barry Wittenstein (Author), Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator), (Penguin Random House)
  • “Hair Love” – Matthew A. Cherry (Author), Vashti Harrison (Illustrator), (Kokila)
  • “Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment” – Parker Curry (Author), Jessica Curry (Author), Brittany Jackson (Illustrator), (Aladdin Books)
  • “Ruby Finds a Worry” – Tom Percival (Bloomsbury Publishing)
  • “Sulwe” – Lupita Nyong’o (Author), Vashti Harrison (Illustrator), (Simon & Schuster, BFYR)

Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens

  • “Around Harvard Square” – C.J. Farley (Akashic Books)
  • “Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk” – Meredith Davis (Author), Rebeka Uwitonze (Author), (Scholastic Inc.)
  • “Hot Comb” – Ebony Flowers (Author), Ebony Flowers (Illustrator), (Drawn and Quarterly)
  • “I’m Not Dying with You Tonight” – Gilly Segal (Author), Kimberly Jones (Author), (Sourcebooks Fire)
  • “The Forgotten Girl” – India Hill Brown (Scholastic Inc.)

See the full nominations HERE.

Vote for your choices HERE.

Winners will be revealed on February 22, during a two-hour live TV special on BET Networks.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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