Executive editor’s view

Executive editor’s view – Editorial

Evette Porter

This is usually the time when people take stock and look to the year ahead. For Black Issues Book Review, 2002 has been a remarkable and challenging year. As we approach our fourth anniversary, we have witnessed the market for black books and black culture become increasingly more expansive and more competitive. More black authors are gaining mainstream attention, and while it isn’t yet the case that there’s equal opportunity in publishing–some of the doors that opened during the black fiction heyday of the 90s haven’t been closed. And there are also many more magazines that, like us, cover the world of books.

This year alone, we’ve seen the launch of several major books by African-American writers that have earned critical and popular acclaim. The growth in black fiction has spilled over into nonfiction with more titles from black authors; I can’t recall a year in which we’ve seen so many heavyweights published, including Johnnie Cochran, Al Sharpton, Deborah Mathis, Tavis Smiley, Elaine Brown, Derrick Bell, Ilyasah Shabazz and Julianne Malveaux.

We’ve seen growth in black booksellers with the recent opening of Clara Villarosa’s Hue-Man Bookstore (see BIBR Spotlight, page 10) in Harlem, where there hadn’t been a full-scale bookstore (not even a Barnes & Noble) in years. With more than 10,000 titles and 4,000 square feet, Hue-Man is a welcome addition to a revitalized 125th Street, the commercial hub in Harlem, U.S.A.

But while there have been some successes, there have also been some setbacks. We lost a number of black literary giants, among them Claude Brown, June Jordan and Phillipe Wamba, as well as bookstore owner Alfred Ligon. This year also marked the end of Oprah’s Book Club, which over the past seven years brought a dozen African-American books to the attention of a larger audience. And while there have been others that have rushed to fill the void left by Oprah, it’s doubtful that black writers will receive similar recognition.

In recapping 2002, we decided to poll BIBR’s editors and some of our readers and have come up with a list of some of our favorites (see “The Best of 2002,” starting on page 21). The “Best of …” list is purely subjective so don’t get upset if your favorites aren’t included. Indeed, we invite our readers to write us with your own list of the best books by black authors for 2002.

And since this is the holiday season, we hope you take a few minutes to look over our gift guide for book lovers (page 52). One of the best ways to celebrate the holidays or start the New Year is with a good book. Enjoy.

Evette Porter

BIBR Executive Editor

COPYRIGHT 2002 Cox, Matthews & Associates

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group