Friday, August 26, 2011

"Section 8: a hood rat novel" by K'wan discussed

Phat Fiction Book Club readers had a lot to say about author, K'wan's characters and the storylline of his 2009 novel, "Section 8: a hood rat novel", and the reading experience in general. Susan

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Street Lit: on the Real at Oak Park Public Library

What is Street Lit? Part romance, part true crime and part morality tale, with liberal doses of erotica, these riveting stories could have been ripped from the headlines – indeed, their plots are the stuff of tabloid fodder. Yet, street lit blends the mundane familiar with the exotic and the result is tantalizing stories, unforgettable, if lamentable, characters and more drama than a soap opera marathon.

If there is any doubt that this sub-genre of African American literature has ‘arrived’, one has only to look at the number of urban fiction imprints created by mainstream publishing houses like Hachette Group’s Grand Central Publishing, Simon & Schuster’s Atria/Strabo imprints, St. Martin’s Press, to name a few, or witness the surge in independent publishing of street lit titles in print and in electronic format on Kindle. Libraries and bookstores report difficulty keeping Street lit titles on the shelves because demand is so high.

The steady rise in popularity of urban fiction comes as no surprise to its devoted audience, authors and reviewers. Still, despite its ubiquitous presence, many readers unfamiliar with the genre are hard-pressed to explain what it is, or rather, what it isn’t. Fiction writing of celebrated mainstream Black authors like a James Baldwin or Toni Morrison is imbued with the spirit of the urban experience and its impact on the lives of people of color. But while struggles against racism may lie at the center of these and other canonical Black authors, street lit takes a different approach to the problem of ‘the other’. Here ‘the other’ is everyone outside the sphere of the inner city; ‘being on the block’ defines not only a physical periphery, but a psychological designation as well. Within the street’s confines every stripe of humanity vies for territory, stature, material gain, status, and above all, respect. Just as “Gossip Girl” is urban fiction of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, “True to the Game “ is anchored in the vernacular of inner city Philadelphia.

Street lit authors place their action in Northern industrialized cities or the ‘dirty South’. While their characters make no apologies for living in the ‘hood’, they strive always to ‘live large’, to exert their influence and acquire the trappings of a luxurious lifestyle by any means necessary.
Impeccable style is a key ingredient of these stories. The extravagant cars, lavishly furnished homes, ‘phat’ (pretty hot and tempting ) designer exclusive attire, expensive jewelry are described in meticulous detail and the swagger with which these accoutrements are ‘rocked’ or displayed is all-important as well. But, like Mafia tales and gangster mythology, the accompanying violence surrounding these ill-gotten gains often extracts a high price including, ugly addiction, prison, or grisly death.

A compelling distinction of Street Lit is that it places African Americans at the heart of the action, not merely as bit players, sidekicks, or walk-ons. Though other races may be represented, their appearances are marginal, and Afro-centric language, slang, parlance and world view hold center-stage. In street lit, the set-pieces of Black culture; the beauty shop, barber shop, nail salon, and church, are recognizable, authentic and explored with equal candor alongside the less savory aspects of the street culture of prostitutes, drug dealers, pimps, and gangsters.

Finally, street lit is the literary component of the Hip Hop music movement and it is no accident that Hip Hop music terms find their way into the literature. The club (dance hall) is an important site where urban ‘griots’ gather to ‘get down’, ‘chill’ exchange information, to hold court, or settle scores. Just as Hip Hop music amplified the urgency of street life in a whole new way, street lit is framing that life for readers. People identify with the lives and stories reflected in these novels and are eager to find these books in their local libraries and bookstores.

The Oak Park Public Library Phat Fiction Street Lit Book Club, meets to discuss street lit titles on the fourth Thursday monthly at 7 pm in the library’s main branch. The book club is free and open to the public and books are available for check out to library patrons one month in advance. A schedule of upcoming book club titles is available on the library’s web site calendar. Phone the Adult & Teen Services desk at (708) 542-3483 for details.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Phat Fiction Street Lit Book Club launches at Oak Park Public Library

If you have longed to explore urban fiction like Sister Souljah's The Coldest Winter Ever, Dutch by Teri Woods, or Section 8 by K'wan, then this book group is for you. Whether you are a passionate lover of the genre or have a mild curiosity about its characters, our monthly discussions will aim to illuminate and inform. Join us on the fourth Thursday of each month and discuss these novels over light refreshments.

Copies of True to the Game will be available at the Main Library a month before the discussion

Phat Fiction Book Club - Street Lit - love stories
True to the Game by Teri Woods
Thursday, July 28, 2011
7 pm Book Discussion Room, Second Floor, Main Library

Thursday, June 2, 2011

YALSA Street Lit Webinar

June 16: Street Smart: Serving Teen Street Lit Readers
Whether your teen population is urban, suburban or rural, they’re talking about street lit. What is this genre and how can you incorporate it into your library? Join Megan Honig, author of Urban Grit: A Guide to Street Lit, for a conversation about street lit. Megan will discuss how to use street lit and why it is important to incorporate it into your library’s collection. Participants will also receive a list of street lit resources.

Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 Street Lit Book Award Medal & Honor Book Winners for 2010 Publications

The Street Lit Book Award Medal Committee is comprised of a group of librarians and library workers from across the U.S. who work with Street Lit and it's readers in public and school libraries. The Committee collected, discussed, and nominated titles based on library patron popularity, book club interest, and overall reception of the story as a valuable addition to the Street Literature genre. Three rounds of nominations resulted in the following winners for 2010 publications:

Winner: Decoded by Jay-Z (publisher: Spiegel & Grau)

Honor Books (in order of scoring):
Damaged by Kia DuPree (publisher: Grand Central)
Welfare Wifeys by K'wan (publisher: St. Martin's Griffin)
The Streets Keep Calling by Chunichi (publisher: Urban Books)
Diary of a Young Girl by Mark Anthony (publisher: Urban Books)

A full write up of the awards with committee comments and committee member bios can be accessed at the Street Literature blog

For more information about the Street Lit Book Award Medal contact, Vanessa Irvin Morris at:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 AAMBC Literary Awards Twitter party

Tune in on Sunday, April 11, 2011 for Twitter chats and interviews with authors of the 2011 AAMBC Literary Awards.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chick Lit Challenge for literature about women of color

The challenge will run from January 1 - December 31, 2011.

Paper, e-books and audio books are all acceptable.

What qualifies as colorful chick lit
- Written by women of color about women of color
- Humorous, snarky or laugh out loud
- A tinge of romance, but not so much that it resembles a Harlequin
- A happy ending
- It's rom/com on paper!
Participants should try to read books from all four categories: Indian, Latina, Asian & African-American

Levels of participation
- Novice: 4 to 7 books
- Amateur: 8 to 11 books
- Queen of Chick Lit: 12 or more books

Laughing Librarian II blog

Laughing Librarian II blog