Next week, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist will be honored at the National Book Awards ceremony for her distinguished contribution to American letters. In 1992, at the time of this interview, she had a new novel "Jazz," and a book of essays, "Playing in the Dark." Her novel, "Beloved," won the Pulitzer prize. She's written five novels in all. (REBROADCAST FROM 4/24/92).
Novelist Terry McMillan. The film adaptation of her 1992 novel, "Waiting to Exhale" was last year's box office hit.The book sold nearly 4 million copies. McMillan has recently completed her fourth novel, "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (Viking) which is available in bookstores this week. It tells the story of a 42-year old career woman on vacation in Jamaica who falls in love with a 20-year old unemployed resort worker. According to McMillan, "it's as close to autobiography as I've written in a long time".
Science fiction writer Octavia Butler. Because she is black and female, she's considered an atypical science fiction writer. She's won the Hugo and Nebula Awards, science fiction's two most prestigious awards. Butler often describes her work as "speculative fiction" rather than science fiction. She says, "Science fiction, extrasensory perception, and black people are judged by the worst elements they produce." Her main characters are usually black women, and the fictional world they inhabit are racially diverse. Butler has written nine novels.
Khanga's new book, "Soul to Soul," is about her family's multi-cultural, multi-ethnic background. Her grandparents met in jail where they were being held for political activism. Her grandfather was African-American and her grandmother Jewish. They moved to Russia, where Khanga was later born.
Neely has brought a strong African-American female voice to the genre. The heroine of her debut book, "Blanche on the Lam," is Blanche White, a 40-year old housekeeper with big thighs, a wry sense of humor, and a jaundiced view of the rich. Blanche is on the lam from a 30-day jail sentence for a bad check; she can hide in plain sight, because of her invisibility as a black housekeeper. One reviewer writes though the book works well as a crime novel, it's "less about a mysterious murder. . .
Davis's new novel, "1959," is about civil rights protests in the south during the eponymous year. Her earlier works include reporting for The New York Times and The Washington Post, and writing the libretto for the opera "X: The Life and Times of Malcom X."
Dove is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet; her collections include, ''Grace Notes," "Thomas and Buela," and "Museum," among others. Her first novel, "Through the Ivory Gate," is about a woman who returns to her hometown, only to unleash a flood of memories.
Writer Alice Walker. Her new book, "Possessing The Secret of Joy," is about Tashi, an African woman who lives most of her life in North America, and yet submits to the tribal custom of female circumcision. Walker's other books include "The Color Purple," which was made into a film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, and "The Temple of My Familiar." The character Tashi has made peripheral appearances in those books. ("Possessing The Secret of Joy" is published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.)