Book Notes: Black authors and theirs fans converge in Atlanta next weekend

Atlanta author Daniel Black will appear at the National Book Club Conference, and Terry McMillan will receive an award at Black Writers Weekend in Atlanta.

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Atlanta author Daniel Black will appear at the National Book Club Conference, and Terry McMillan will receive an award at Black Writers Weekend in Atlanta.

National Book Club Conference, Black Writers Weekend celebrate a love of books and writing.

This week’s Books Notes is all about Black writers and Black authors. If you are a Black author trying to publish your first book, a fan of Black authors or a Black writer looking to hone your craft, then you are in luck. I just hope you aren’t planning to leave town the first weekend of August.

Bliterati Palooza. The 18th annual National Book Club Conference, an event dedicated to Black authors and their readers, comes to the Marriott Buckhead Hotel and Conference Center Aug. 4-7, bringing to town talent from the publishing and television industries for a weekend of literary-themed events. Before you get too excited, there’s a hitch: Registration closed in June. If you don’t have tickets already, you’re out of luck. So mark your calendar for next year, but first check out the roster of folks participating this year.

Tina Lifford, who plays Aunt Vi on the OWN series “Queen Sugar” and is the author of “The Little Book of Big Lies: A Journey into Inner Fitness” (Amistad, $23.99), is the keynote speaker. Carl Weber, producer of “Black Hamptons” on BET and “The Family Business” on the CW, will screen an episode from his latest TV project. New York Times bestselling author Tia Williams will talk about her latest book, “Seven Days in June,” named a Best Romance of 2021 by The Washington Post and newly released in paperback. From Atlanta, Vanessa Riley, author of “Island Queen,” and Daniel Black, author of “Don’t Cry for Me,” will each lead sessions. And on Sunday morning, there will be a panel on “Remembering Eric Jerome Dickey.” To learn more, go to www.nationalbookclubconference.com.

The other big event happening on the same dates, Aug. 4-7, is the Black Writers Weekend, an event that supports aspiring writers with panels on publishing, social media, entertainment law and more. There’s also a Lit Crawl (think pub crawl for literary types) in Castleberry Hill and a Pitch Fest, where participants can pitch their book ideas to agents and editors. The good news is that it’s not too late to get tickets, and some events are free. On Sunday night will be the African American Movie Book Club (AAMBC) Awards, where “Stella Got Her Groove Back” author Terry McMillan will receive the Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award. For details, go to blackwritersweekend.com. And to learn more about the founder of the Black Writers Weekend, Atlanta romance writer Tamika Newhouse, see the Sunday Living & Arts section on July 31.

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Courtesy of Little, Brown & Co.

Credit: Little, Brown & Co

Courtesy of Little, Brown & Co.

Credit: Little, Brown & Co

Combined ShapeCaption
Courtesy of Little, Brown & Co.

Credit: Little, Brown & Co

Credit: Little, Brown & Co

Speaking of Book Clubs. The Black-ish Book Club, sponsored by A Cappella Books, will hold its monthly meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at Dancing Goats (Ponce City Market, 650 North Ave., Atlanta). This month they’ll discuss “The Sweetness of Water” (Little, Brown & Co., $25.98) by Nathan Harris. The 2021 Oprah Book Club pick is set in the latter days of the Civil War and centers on two enslaved brothers recently freed by the Emancipation Proclamation who find work on a farm in Georgia in hopes of earning money to reunite with their mother up North. The event is free and open to the public. For details go to www.acappellabooks.com.

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Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Credit: Penguin Random House

Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Credit: Penguin Random House

Combined ShapeCaption
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Credit: Penguin Random House

Credit: Penguin Random House

Happy Pub Day. Last year Atlanta native Ayana Gray made a huge splash with her young adult fantasy debut, “Beasts of Prey,” about a girl with magic powers and a boy training to be a warrior who join forces to enter the Greater Jungle and capture a monster that has terrorized their town for nearly a century. The book was such a hit, it’s being translated into 10 languages and has a feature film development deal with Netflix. Fans who have been dangling on the edge of that book’s cliffhanger ending can finally give a sigh of relief. The second book of the two-book series, “Beasts of Ruin” (Penguin Random House, $18.99), drops Tuesday, July 26. And the following day, Wednesday, July 27, at 7 p.m., Gray will make an appearance at the DeKalb County Public Library Decatur Branch (215 Sycamore St., Decatur), where she’ll be in conversation with Atlanta YA author Roshani Chokshi. Presented by Little Shop of Stories, the event is free but requires registration at www.eventbrite.com.

Literary Legacy. The Georgia Writers Association has opened submissions for its second annual John Lewis Writing Grants, which recognizes and supports Black writers in Georgia. Winners receive $500 each to present a workshop or reading at a Georgia venue and a scholarship to the annual Red Clay Writers Conference. Deadline is Oct. 1. For details go to www.georgiawriters.org.

The recipients last year were Ra’Niqua Lee, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in African American literature at Emory University; freelance writer George Chidi, who writes for The Intercept and Decaturish, and poet Jae Nichelle.

Suzanne Van Atten is a book critic and contributing editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contact her at svanatten@ajc.com and follow her on Twitter at @svanatten.