D.C. area writers among winners of Go On Girl! Book Club Awards

Go On Girl! Book Club awards author Marita Golden with“2013 Life Achievement Honoree for her enduring contributions to black literature and her work as co-founder of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. (Courtesy Marita Golden)
Go On Girl! Book Club awards author Marita Golden was named “2013 Life Achievement Honoree” for her contributions to black literature. (Marita Golden)

Go On Girl! Book Club, one of the country’s leading literary groups dedicated to reading work by authors in the African Diaspora, is celebrating its 22nd annual author awards dinner June 7 in Baltimore.

The club, which has more than 500 members and dozens of chapters across the country, was founded in 1991 in New York with this mission: “Let it be known by authors and the publishing house that African-Americans indeed read, so keep those quality books coming.”

The power of “Go On Girl! Book Club” resides in its numbers and its organization. With hundreds of its members buying and reading the same book at the same time and sending reviews to publishing houses, it has been a force in the literary community for more than 20 years. Twenty-two years ago, the club began celebrating favorite authors during an award show.

“Our author awards event is done to shine a light on the writers who tell our stories and keep black culture relevant on the literary landscape,” Go On Girl! Book Club co-founder Lynda Johnson said in a statement. “We take the time to celebrate them and let them know we’re out there reading and discussing their work and that what they do matters.”

This year, the book club plans to award its favorite authors from 2013. Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who wrote “Before I Forget,” a novel about “the role of African American men” in American society, has been named by the club the “2013 Author of the Year.”

Author Ayana Mathis was been named “2013 New Author of the Year” for her debut novel. “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie,” which tells the story of a family that left the South during the “Great Migration” of the 20th century and headed north.

Marita Golden, an acclaimed author who has written more than 14 works of fiction and nonfiction, including “Don’t Play in the Sun“; “Saving Our Sons”; “Long Distance Life” and “Migrations of the Heart,” was named “2013 Life Achievement Honoree for her enduring contributions to black literature and her work as co-founder of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation.”

Here is a link to the story I wrote in October about the 2013 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards. The Hurston/Wright Foundation was founded in Prince George’s County in 1990 by Golden and Clyde McElvene, a marketing executive, to discover, educate and mentor black writers and ensure the survival of literature by black writers.

In Prince George’s County, one of the most affluent majority African American jurisdictions in the country, more than 65 percent of its population is African American and 52 percent of its residents are women.

Librarian Carla Hayden, CEO of Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, was selected to receive the club’s 2013 Special Recognition Award for her leadership and work with the library.

The 2013 Jr. Go On Girl! Reader’s Choice Award will go to Kwame Alexander, who wrote the critically acclaimed “The Crossover,” a novel written in measured verse about African American twins growing into manhood.

During the awards show, which takes place 5 p.m. June 7 at the Sheraton Inner Harbor in Baltimore, the club will also honor aspiring author Taheerah Abdul-Rahmaan, who was selected to receive the club’s “2013 Unpublished Writer Award.” Tickets to the awards show in Baltimore are $80 and are available at www.GoOnGirl.org.

DeNeen L. Brown is an award-winning staff writer at The Washington Post who has covered night police, education, courts, politics and culture.
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