Science fiction writer Octavia Butler died Feb. 28 at the age of 58. The cause of death has not been determined. Because she was black and female, Butler was considered atypical of science fiction. But she was also among the genre's most talented writers.
A rebroadcast of a 1986 interview Terry Gross recorded with writer and social critic James Baldwin, who died in 1987. Baldwin's books include Go Tell it on the Mountain, The Fire Next Time and Notes of a Native Son. Baldwin was one of the first major writers to address the civil rights issue. After the civil rights movement crested, Baldwin moved to France, where he felt more tolerance for his open homosexuality and outspoken nature. (REBROADCAST from 1986)
Performance poet Sapphire has written a new novel, "Push," in the voice of a 16 year-old black girl named Precious Jones, who is pregnant for the second time by her father. Her world opens up when a teacher encourages her to learn to read and write. Sapphire taught reading and writing to teenagers and adults in Harlem and the Bronx for eight years. There's also a new edition of her book of poetry, "American Dreams."
Shell has just written his first novel, "Iced," about a talented and ambitious man who is also addicted to crack. As an actor, Shell has appeared in many shows in England, including "Miss Saigon," "Starlight Express," "Jesus Christ Superstar," and "Hair." He is also a songwriter, and has written music for singer Kate Bush.
Mystery writer Walter Mosley. He's written a new book in his series about gumshoe hero Easy Rawlins, called "Black Betty." Betty's a shark of a woman who leaves dead men in her wake. Like the other books in the series, "Black Betty" has Easy in post-War, but pre-present South Central L.A.-- this time the year is 1961. Mosley gained public attention when presidential candidate Bill Clinton said that Mosley was his favorite mystery writer. His next book,"RL's Dream" comes out this August.
Writer Alexs Pate's first novel is called "Losing Absalom." It's a fictionalized tribute to his father that chronicles end of the title character's life as his family has gathered around his hospital bed. Writer John Willimas wrote, "Losing Absalom is a powerful yet sensitive embrace with black America today." Pate grew up in North Philadelphia and lives in Minneapolis.
Gaines wrote "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" and "A Gathering of Old Men." He talks about growing up in rural Louisiana and his new novel, "A Lesson Before Dying," which brings together two black men -- one a teacher, the other a death row inmate.
George is one of this country's most prominent chroniclers of black music and culture. He was the black music editor at "Billboard" for seven years and is a regular columnist for the "Village Voice." His new book "Buppies, B-Boys, Baps and Bohos: Notes on Post-Soul Black Culture," is a collection of his writings about the last two decades in Black urban culture. George also edited the book, "Stop the Violence," a collaboration of top rappers working to end black-on-black violence.
Producer Naomi Person talks with writer Edward Jones. He's just published a new collection of short stories, "Lost in the City," about the "lives and souls" of black people living in Washington, D.C. This is his first book.
Novelist Randall Kenan. He was raised in the rural, North Carolina, a part of the country in which he says "it's hard to distinguish between the myths and reality." His new book, "Let the Dead Bury Their Dead," is a collection of stories, about a five-year old who can hear the dead speak, an Asian man who falls from the sky and encounters mindless violence and racism, and a conventional widow who copes with the revelation that her grandson is a homosexual, and others.