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Miranda Doyle

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  1. 1. street lit urban fiction ghetto lit hip-hop fiction gangsta lit
  2. 2. Definition <ul><li>San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 19, 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>“ The so-called hip-hop books. . .are page- turners rife with violence, sex and crime; they're often populated by African American characters; they're especially popular among reluctant readers, notably including young, black men; and the language, cadences, subject matter and aesthetic evoke comparisons to hip-hop music.” </li></ul>
  3. 3. Criticism <ul><li>One critic calls it “mindless garbage about murder, killing, thuggery” </li></ul><ul><li>Another says: “In ghetto fiction, as in today's hip-hop lyrics, the lives of the people who live in the 'hood are portrayed as stimulating and glamorous. The real-life desperation and need for redemption are ignored.” </li></ul><ul><li>Critics say it reinforces stereotypes and encourages irresponsible behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Critics worry that it may crowd out better-quality African American literature </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why Libraries Should Buy It Anyway <ul><li>One defender says: &quot;They reflect the world as [readers] know it, the society as they know it, much in the that way hip-hop lyrics do.” </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the books are “tragic morality tales” – wrongdoing is punished by death or prison – so overall message is positive </li></ul><ul><li>Tremendous popularity – especially with urban teens and 20-somethings, who might otherwise not use the library or check out books </li></ul><ul><li>Gets an audience of reluctant readers excited about reading </li></ul><ul><li>Library Journals says: evaluate street lit in the context of its genre. Some titles are better than others, as in all genres. We need to serve the interests and needs of all patrons. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Characteristics <ul><li>Often written by younger African-Americans, often first-time authors. Some authors are or have been in prison. </li></ul><ul><li>Urban setting, often in housing projects. Popular cities include Philadelphia; Richmond, VA; Chicago; New York, New Jersey. </li></ul><ul><li>Gritty; include plenty of sex, drugs, and violence. Drug dealing, or “the game”, is a common theme. </li></ul><ul><li>Written in the language of the streets, with plenty of slang and four-letter words. </li></ul><ul><li>Includes many references to brand names, especially expensive cars, designer clothing and shoes, etc. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Characteristics <ul><li>Main female character is often shallow and self-centered at the beginning, but learns through facing hardships. </li></ul><ul><li>Characters may profit from drug dealing, enjoying their wealth, but eventually most pay the price. Many titles end in tragedy – violent deaths, prison. </li></ul><ul><li>Often self-published or published by small, independent presses. </li></ul><ul><li>Generally published in a trade paperback format </li></ul><ul><li>Covers often feature photos of scantily clad women, men with guns, expensive cars, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>May have many grammatical errors and typos </li></ul><ul><li>Often not reviewed in mainstream publications </li></ul>
  7. 7. Timeline <ul><li>1969 – Iceberg Slim (also known as Robert Beck) publishes “Pimp”, then other titles including “Trick Baby and “Death Wish” – accounts of life on the Chicago streets, using authentic slang </li></ul><ul><li>1970s – Donald Goines writes “Dopefiend” and “Whoreson”, along with other titles, about the struggles of pimps, prostitutes, thieves, hit men, and drug addicts to survive on the streets. </li></ul><ul><li>1998 – Teri Woods, a paralegal in Philadelphia, self-publishes and starts hand-selling “True to the Game”, about a young girl who grows up in the projects and falls for a drug dealer, with tragic results. Woods goes on to found Teri Woods Publishing and promote other urban fiction authors. </li></ul><ul><li>1999 – Rap artist and activist Sister Soulja published “Coldest Winter Ever”, the story of 17-year-old Winter Santiaga, the pampered daughter of a Brooklyn drug kingpin. When her father goes to prison, Winter must try to survive of her own. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Timeline <ul><li>2001 – While in federal prison, Vickie Stringer writes “Let That Be the Reason,” then sets up a company called “Triple Crown Publications” to publish other urban fiction authors. </li></ul><ul><li>2006 – Newsweek declares that “hip hop novels are hot” and notes that mainstream publishers want in, signing the top authors. </li></ul><ul><li>Newsweek reports: &quot;Hip-hop fiction is doing for 15- to 25-year-old African-Americans what 'Harry Potter' did for kids,&quot; says Matt Campbell, a buyer for Waldenbooks. &quot;Getting a new audience excited about books.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>For more, see Feb. 2006 Library Journal article: </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons from the Old School: Street Lit Pioneers </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6299862.html </li></ul>
  9. 9. Popular authors <ul><li>Teri Woods – “True to the Game”, “Dutch” </li></ul><ul><li>Shannon Holmes – “B More Careful”, “Bad Girlz” </li></ul><ul><li>Vickie Stringer – “Let That Be the Reason” </li></ul><ul><li>Nikki Turner – “A Project Chick” </li></ul><ul><li>K’wan (Foye) – “Gangsta”, “Street Dreams” </li></ul><ul><li>T.N. Baker – “Cream” </li></ul><ul><li>Tracy Brown – “Dime Piece”, “Black” </li></ul><ul><li>Chunichi – “A Gangster’s Girl” </li></ul><ul><li>Wahida Clark – “Thugs and the Women Who Love Them” </li></ul><ul><li>Keisha Irvin – “Hold U Down” </li></ul><ul><li>50 Cent (writes “with” other authors) </li></ul><ul><li>Zane (erotica, doesn’t quite fit street lit definition but popular with same readers) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Publishers <ul><li>Triple Crown Publications </li></ul><ul><li>Teri Woods Publishing </li></ul><ul><li>Urban Books </li></ul><ul><li>Macavelli Press </li></ul><ul><li>Black Print Publishing </li></ul><ul><li>Melodrama Publishing </li></ul><ul><li>Q-Boro Books </li></ul><ul><li>Ghetto Heat </li></ul>
  11. 11. Does urban fiction belong in school libraries? <ul><li>In my opinion, probably not for middle school – it would be hard to defend given the graphic content. Direct students to the public library and to teen books with a similar setting and feel. </li></ul><ul><li>High school libraries – yes, depending on your community and support, but be ready to defend it. Have a rationale and a collection development policy. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Collection Development <ul><li>Find new titles on publisher Web sites, Essence Paperback Bestsellers list, bookstores (Borders has good selection) </li></ul><ul><li>Find reviews on Amazon.com or specialized web sites (see resource list). </li></ul><ul><li>If you can’t buy the books for your school library, think about providing booklists and showing students how to find titles at the public library </li></ul>
  13. 13. YA Books for Urban Fiction Readers <ul><li>Some teens who read urban fiction want only the adult titles, but others are open to also reading Young Adult books. </li></ul><ul><li>School librarians, especially at the middle school level, probably won’t buy it, so what can we do (other than direct students to the public library)? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Favorite Teen “Urban” Titles <ul><li>Three classic urban fiction titles (possibly appropriate for high school libraries, depending on your community – Flyy Girl for middle school?). </li></ul>
  15. 15. Bluford series <ul><li>www.townsendpress.com -- $1 a book, write a letter and they may send you a set. New cover from Scholastic. Appropriate for middle school. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Books by Sharon Flake (great for middle school & up)
  17. 17. Books by Janet McDonald
  18. 18. Books by Walter Dean Myers
  19. 19. Drama High series <ul><li>Proudly hailing from Compton, USA, sixteen-year-old Jayd Jackson is no stranger to drive-by shootings or run-ins with the friendly neighborhood crackhead. Street-smart, book-smart, and life-smart, she’s nobody’s fool—least of all KJ’s, the most popular and cutest basketball jock at South Bay High, aka Drama High. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Imani All Mine <ul><li>Imani All Mine tells the story of Tasha, a fourteen-year-old unwed mother of a baby girl. In her ghettoized world where poverty, racism, and danger are daily struggles, Tasha uses her savvy and humor to uncover the good hidden around her. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Tyrell <ul><li>Tyrell is a young, African American teen who can't get a break. He's living (for now) with his spaced-out mother and little brother in a homeless shelter. His father's in jail. His girlfriend supports him, but he doesn't feel good enough for her. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Street Pharm <ul><li>Ty Johnson knows survival. Since inheriting his pop's business at sixteen, Ty's developed smarts, skills, and mad discipline. The supply game's in his blood. And life is pretty sweet when you're on top. But one slip -- or one serious competitor -- and life turns ugly fast. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Upstate <ul><li>&quot;Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is do you believe I killed my father?“ So begins Upstate, a powerful story told through letters between the incarcerated seventeen-year-old Antonio and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Natasha. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Ride Wit’ Me <ul><li>Mercedes does everything to please her father until she falls in love with rising drug kingpin Dalvin. Mercedes and Dalvin fight her father's opposition and the dangers of the streets to be together. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Platinum Teen Series www.platinumteen.org Books 1-4 – Three friends face drama, boyfriend troubles, etc. Appropriate for middle school.
  26. 26. Emako Blue <ul><li>From the moment she stands up in chorus auditions and her heavenly voice fills the room, Emako Blue profoundly affects anyone who meets her. But even as Emako draws together new friends and catches the attention of an important record producer, the streets of South Central Los Angeles are never far away, where everything changes in one horrific instant. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Imani In Young Love. . . <ul><li>Every ACTION has a CONSEQUENCE. How high of a price are you willing to pay for that action? Five teenagers, Imani, Fatima, Bhriana, Tyler & Steven, individually & collectively discover the answer to that question. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Broken China <ul><li>China Cup Cameron might miss school or fall asleep in class sometimes, but she's trying hard to be a good mother to Amina, her two-year-old daughter. When tragedy befalls the small family, China must quit school and work full-time to make ends meet. But the only place in town that's willing to hire a fourteen-year-old high-school dropout is Obsidian Queens, a strip club, and China is forced to make some difficult and potentially self-destructive decisions. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Alan Lawrence Sitomer
  30. 30. Drive By and Party Girl <ul><li>Latino characters, short and easy to read. The books deal with drive-by shootings, drugs, and gangs. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Other Favorite YA Authors <ul><li>Angela Johnson </li></ul><ul><li>Gary Soto </li></ul>
  32. 32. More possibilities? <ul><li>“ 52 Broad Street” by Diane Dorce </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Kids at Latimar High” by Deborah J. Copeland </li></ul><ul><li>“ So Not the Drama” and “Don’t Get It Twisted” by Paula Chase </li></ul><ul><li>“ Worth Fighting 4” by Jarold Imes </li></ul>
  33. 33. Resources <ul><li>See Web page: </li></ul><ul><li>www.teenlibrarian.com/streetlit </li></ul><ul><li>Links to: </li></ul><ul><li>Annotated booklist – titles at SFPL </li></ul><ul><li>Library Success Wiki: Other booklists </li></ul><ul><li>My VOYA article </li></ul><ul><li>Newspaper and Magazine Articles </li></ul><ul><li>Library school dissertation </li></ul><ul><li>Publishers </li></ul><ul><li>New blog run by a librarian: </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.streetfiction.org/ </li></ul>
  34. 34. Resources <ul><li>Articles on Street Lit </li></ul><ul><li>Library Journal Street Lit Takes a Hit Library Journal Selling Urban Fiction (article) Publisher’s Weekly, 1/06 Publisher's Weekly Library School Dissertation: Street Lit Novels and Triangle-Area Public Libraries: A Search through the OPACS (Online Public Access Catalogs) Street Lit </li></ul><ul><li>Seattle Times, 2005 Hip Hop Fiction Drawing More Readers to Black Lit Seattle Times Wikipedia article on Urban Fiction Wikepedia Wikepedia Columbia News Service Street Lit Goes Legit Columbia News Service E! Online 50 Cent in Da Books G-Unit Books Philadelphia Weekly column critical of the genre Ghetto Fiction Christian Science Monitor article Gritty Street Lit Washington Post: New Books in the Hood Washington Post Article NY Times: Street Lit with Publishing Cred Street Lit NPR: Readers Embrace &quot;Ghetto Lit&quot; Genre NPR San Francisco Chronicle: Hip Hop Lit is full of grit [1] Salon: Candy Licker: A best-selling book about cunnilingus and thugs. Candy Licker Newsweek: It's Gangsta Lit Newsweek article </li></ul>