2017 American Book Awards announced!

PDF File of Press Release

The Before Columbus Foundation announces the

Winners of the Thirty-Eighth Annual


Ceremonies, October 22, 2017, 12:00–2:30 p.m.

Oakland, CA—The Before Columbus Foundation announces the Winners of the Thirty-Eighth Annual AMERICAN BOOK AWARDS. The 2017 American Book Award winners will be formally recognized on Sunday, October 22nd, from 12:00-2:30 p.m. at the SF Jazz Center, Joe Henderson Lab, 201 Franklin Street (at Fell), San Francisco, CA. This event is open to the public.

The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.  The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions.  There are no categories, no nominees, and therefore no losers. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works. There are no quotas for diversity, the winners list simply reflects it as a natural process. The Before Columbus Foundation views American culture as inclusive and has always considered the term “multicultural” to be not a description of various categories, groups, or “special interests,” but rather as the definition of all of American literature. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers.

The 2017 American Book Award Winners are:


Rabia Chaudry

Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial

(St. Martin’s Press)


Flores A. Forbes

Invisible Men: A Contemporary Slave Narrative in

the Era of Mass Incarceration (Skyhorse Publishing)


Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing (Knopf)


Holly Hughes

Passings (Expedition Press)


Randa Jarrar

Him, Me, Muhammad Ali (Sarabande Books)


Bernice L. McFadden

The Book of Harlan (Akashic Books)


Brian D. McInnes

Sounding Thunder: The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow

(Michigan State University Press)


Patrick Phillips

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America

(W. W. Norton & Company)


Vaughn Rasberry

Race and the Totalitarian Century: Geopolitics in

the Black Literary Imagination (Harvard University Press)


Marc Anthony Richardson

Year of the Rat (Fiction Collective Two)


Shawna Yang Ryan

Green Island (Knopf)


Ruth Sergel

See You in the Streets: Art, Action, and Remembering the

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (University of Iowa Press)


Solmaz Sharif

Look (Graywolf Press)


Adam Soldofsky

Memory Foam (Disorder Press)


Alfredo Véa

The Mexican Flyboy (University of Oklahoma Press)


Dean Wong

Seeing the Light: Four Decades in Chinatown (Chin Music Press)


Lifetime AchievementNancy Mercado


Editor/Publisher Award: Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics

Document Initiative, Ammiel Alcalay, General Editor

Before Columbus Foundation to host panel discussion “Frantz Fanon in the 21st Century: His Life and Legacy” July 23rd

Sunday, July 23rd, 1-3:30 PM, at the San Francisco Public Library. RSVP to the event on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/192588847939482/

Frank B Wilderson, III (Red, White & Black: Cinema and the Structure of US Antagonisms) and Lewis Gordon (What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction To His Life And Thought) join moderator Justin Desmangles (Before Columbus Foundation) for a discussion of the life and legacy of Frantz Fanon in the 21st century.

Lewis R. Gordon is Professor of Philosophy at UCONN-Storrs; European Union Visiting Chair in Philosophy at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, France; Core Professor at the Global Center for Advanced Studies; and Honorary Professor at the Unit of the Humanities at Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa. He also is the drummer for the band ThreeGenerations (https://www.youtube.com/cha…/UCedXg5Lmzi_RNq172eDLE3g/videos, Spotify, and other music sites). His most recent books are What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought (NY: Fordham UP; London: Hurst; Johannesburg: Wits UP, 2015; in Swedish, Vad Fanon Sa, Stockholm: TankeKraft förlag, 2016), La sud prin nord-vest: Reflecţii existenţiale afrodiasporice, trans. Ovidiu Tichindeleanu (Cluj, Romania: IDEA Design & Print, 2016), and, with Fernanda Frizzo Bragato, the forthcoming anthology Geopolitics and Decolonization: Perspectives from the Global South (London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield International). His website is: http://lewisrgordon.com and he is on twitter at: https://twitter.com/lewgord.

Frank B. Wilderson III is a professor in the Department of African American Studies at UC Irvine. He is also the Director of the Culture & Theory PhD Program. Professor Wilderson spent five and a half years in South Africa where he was one of two Americans to have held elected office in the African National Congress during the apartheid era. He also worked as a psychological warfare, secret propaganda, and covert operations cadre for the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe. His books include, Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid; and Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms. In addition to being an activist and scholar, Dr. Wilderson is also a creative writer; and through his creative writing he has received a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; The Maya Angelou Award for Best Fiction Portraying the Black Experience in America; the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award; The Eisner Prize for Creative Achievement of the Highest Order; The Judith Stronach Award for Poetry, and The American Book Award.

Astra Taylor, American Book Award winner, gives EMMA talk

You can see video of her talk “Where Are The Gears? Thoughts on Resisting the (Neoliberal, Networked) Machine” here.

Before Columbus Foundation to host three events at 2017 Oakland Book Festival

The Oakland Book Festival takes place at Oakland City Hall, Sunday, May 21st, 2017. It is free and open to the public.


Hearing Room 2  |  11:00am–12:15pm
Presented By: Before Columbus Foundation

Throughout much of our nation’s early history, literacy among the non-white population was crime punishable by death. The struggle towards education and self-determination for Americans of color remains fraught with adversity. At the center of these enveloping controversies and culture wars remains the question of just what is American literature.

CHRIS JACKSON is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of One World, a newly relaunched imprint of Random House.

ISHMAEL REED is a prize-winning essayist, novelist, poet and playwright.

JUSTIN DESMANGLES (moderator) is Chairman of the board of directors of the Before Columbus Foundation.



Hearing Room 4  |  2:00pm–3:15pm
Presented By: Before Columbus Foundation

The resurrection of James Baldwin in recent years has returned his writings to the center of American discussions on race and inequality. That said, Baldwin’s prescience remains firmly rooted in the traditions of protest and spirituality woven in Afro-American music.

ED PAVLIC  is Distinguished Research Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia and author of Who Can Afford to Improvise: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listeners.

SHANA L. REDMOND is an interdisciplinary scholar of music, race, and politics and the author of Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora.

ISHMAEL REED is a prize-winning essayist, novelist, poet and playwright.

QUINCY TROUPE, professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego, and editor of Black Renaissance Noire, is an awarding-winning author of ten volumes of poetry.

JUSTIN DESMANGLES (moderator) is Chairman of the board of directors of the Before Columbus Foundation.



Council Chambers  |  4:45pm–6:00pm
Presented By: Before Columbus Foundation

Among the most beguiling and mercurial of American artists, Bob Dylan has long been regarded as one of the major poets in the last century. In 2016, Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature, igniting a firestorm of controversy internationally..

JOSHUA CLOVER is author of six books, including Riot.Strike.Riot: The New Era of Uprisings (Verso 2016)

PENELOPE HOUSTON is founder of the critically acclaimed proto-punk band The Avengers and author of the political anthems “The American in Me” and “We Are the One.”

QUINCY TROUPE, professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego, and editor of Black Renaissance Noire, is an awarding-winning author of ten volumes of poetry.

JUSTIN DESMANGLES (moderator) is Chairman of the board of directors of the Before Columbus Foundation.


Oakland Book Festival to take place Sunday, May 21st, 2017 at Oakland City Hall

Sunday, May 21, 2017
Oakland City Hall
11am – 6pm | Free
Doors Open At 10:30am

The Oakland Book Festival is a one day, annual literary event. Dedicated to books, ideas, and the pleasure of literacy, it aims to serve the reading public, to encourage debate, and to celebrate the City of Oakland. It will host more than sixty writers in 2017 and is free and open to the public. 2017’s theme is “Equality/Inequality”. For more information and a schedule of the day’s events, visit http://www.oaklandbookfestival.org

Hip Hop Artist Mistah Fab to participate in Oakland Book Festival

The SF Gate discusses the Festival’s theme and Mistah Fab’s scheduled events. http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Mistah-F-A-B-to-speak-at-Oakland-Book-Festival-11133362.php

Oakland Book Festival covered by San Francisco Chronicle

The Chronicle considers how authors deal with social inequality. http://www.sfchronicle.com/books/article/Oakland-Book-Festival-to-take-up-equality-and-11107609.php

The Oakland Book Festival takes place Sunday, May 21, 2017 at Oakland City Hall. More information can be found at http://www.oaklandbookfestival.org

NPR Covers the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Ishmael Reed’s upcoming performance of his play “Life Among the Aryans” is promoted within: http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/04/08/522988411/the-nuyorican-poets-caf-a-cauldron-for-poetry-and-politics?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social

Deepa Iyer on the impact of ICE in courtrooms for Colorlines

Iyer won the 2016 American Book Award for “We Too Sing America”. With Archi Pyati: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/courthouses-may-no-longer-be-safe-spaces-undocumented-immigrants

Ishmael Reed’s play “Life Among The Aryans” at Nuyorican Poets Cafe Thursday June 22, 2017

Celebrated playwright, poet and novelist Ishmael Reed stars in this workshop staging of his newest play, a satire that chronicles the misadventures of two hapless revolutionaries. Reed is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and the Langston Hughes Medal; he has been nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Many of Reed’s previous theatrical works have premiered at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (including, most recently, “The Final Version”, in 2013). This staged reading of Reed’s newest play is directed by Rome Neal.

Tickets can be purchased from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s website: http://www.nuyorican.org/event/1462483