Sunday, April 11, 2010

Make 'em Laugh

We are pleased to bring you another salon after our successful Push/Precious/Erasure salon back in December (we hope that some of you used our salon kit to have your own!). We felt like we needed a little levity after the sorrowful Push so this time we've embarked on a salon with two sharply funny and insightful new novels: Big Machine by Victor LaValle and God Says No by James Hannaham. We wanted to offer some tools that we hope to use--and that you can use too--if you'd like to discuss these books--and the notion of humor in African-American literature--with some of your friends wherever you are.

First up: Salon 101. Detailed tips to throw your own salon, courtesy of Guilt and Pleasure .

Here's an essay about African-American humor by Paul Beatty to create a lens to view the novels through (It's from his book, Hokum: An anthology of African-American humor.)

And here's a bit about each writer: Victor on Wikipedia, an interview with him, and a piece from the Wall Street Journal. And if you want to hear from him, check out this NPR interview.

Here's James in Salon and a review from the Austinist (James got his MFA from the University of Texas in Austin.) And here's a sample of the kinds of online "ex-gay" testimonies that inspired the novel.

So check it all out and have a salon of their own--and if you want to spread it out, just do one book at a time! We'll let you know when the podcast of the event is up on the PEN website.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mosaic Literary Magazine Provides Lesson Plans for Educators

Ron Kavanaugh of Mosaic Literary Magazine asked me to write lesson plans for educators who are interested in utilizing the books reviewed in each issue. For free down-loadable copies, click here. And while you're on the site, subscribe to this very important literary magazine - one of the few left that focuses on the work of Black writers.