>Like many folks, I’ve been off in inauguration land and am just now winding back to real life. Believe it or not, I still have inauguration-related things taped for later viewing. Just can’t get enough.

But, just like the president, I have to get to work!

Thursday is Author/Blog spotlight day. Eventually, I hope to include some interviews or even guest blogs on Thursday for the spotlight. Until then, I will just pick and choose and write what I want ;).

Today’s pick: Ravi Howard, author of Like Trees Walking.
Why him?: Because he was recently named the 2008 winner of the Ernest Gaines award for his novel.

I haven’t yet read it, but have heard much about it and this award is the one that tips it. I’ll get a copy soon.

Howard is a native of Alabama – and Southerners hold a dear place in my heart – a graduate of Howard University, and is surprisingly, one of the few male authors that I have heard about repeatedly over the last few years.

I’m not saying Black men aren’t publishing or writing great work – they’re just not being talked up, I think.

About the book:

When the phone rang at the home of Paul and Roy Deacon in the early morning hours, it often meant that someone had died. The brothers’ family owned the Deacon Memorial Funeral Home and had buried the loved ones of Mobile’s black families for over 100 years. On the morning of March 21, 1981, the call was different. The body of nineteen-year-old Michael Donald was found hanging from a tree on Herndon Avenue. The murder shook the citizens of Mobile, Alabama, especially the Deacon brothers. They had called Michael Donald a friend.

As the brothers navigate their teen years, they face familiar rites of passage; prom night, graduation, college life, but the family business forces them to confront the rites death brings, passages from this world to the next. As Roy and Paul Deacon search for solace, their journeys take them from church sanctuaries to cemeteries, protest marches to courtrooms, from the tree-lined streets of Mobile to the dark beach roads on the Eastern Shore.

Added to the grief of a murdered friend, the brothers and their hometown face the first lynching in over sixty years. Mobile had been as peaceful as its tree-lined streets were beautiful, but the murder gave the city its own sad chapter in the Alabama racial history. Like Birmingham’s four little girls, Selma’s Bloody Sunday, and Tuskegee’s experiment, Mobile had the murder of Michael Donald.

In this riveting debut, Like Trees, Walking explores a fictional aftermath of a true story that will both haunt and illuminate. The novel examines death, faith, truth, and justice, elements that often intersect and at times collide. An old tale set in modern times, Like Trees, Walking explores the complexities and the promises of America’s New South.

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