New: Twelve Years a Slave

By Gary Rawlins, Black Books and

Twelve Years a Slave, By Solomon Northup, Enhanced Edition by Dr. Sue Eakin, Audio Edition Narrated By Louis Gossett Jr., Telemachus Press, Paperback, 362 pp., $17.95

Twelve Years a Slave, By Solomon Northup, Enhanced Edition by Dr. Sue Eakin, Audio Edition Narrated By Louis Gossett Jr., Telemachus Press, Paperback, 362 pp., $17.95

Soon after Solomon Northup, a kidnapped free black from New York, is sold to a planter in Louisiana, he learns a bitter lesson about speaking truth to evil.

Northup, who had been abducted two years earlier, is asked if he could read and write. He thoughtlessly answers yes. His master assures Northup that if he ever catches him with a book or with pen and paper, he will give him 100 lashes. The planter wants Northup to understand that he is nothing but livestock, meant to pick cotton and chop sugar cane and to mindlessly do whatever he’s told.

Northup should have known better. He had spoken truth at the time of his abduction, and was brutally whipped at a Washington, D.C., slave pen for protesting that he was a free man.

Such was the fate of Northup, who had been happily living in  Saratoga Springs, N.Y., with his wife and three children. We know his story thanks to his autobiography, Twelve Years a Slave, published in the year of his freedom in 1853. Though literate, Northup dictated his story to ghostwriter David Wilson, who allowed Northup to exercise final editorial decisions over the events in the narrative. Northup’s absorbing mind had captured the reality of slavery in shocking detail.

A bestseller in its time, the book validated Harriet Beecher Stowe’s fictional account of southern slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published the year before in 1852. Despite its pre-Civil War success, Twelve Years a Slave had been largely forgotten save for the efforts of the late Sue Eakin, a professor of history at Louisiana State University.

Eakin first discovered the story of Northup in 1931 when she was an adolescent living not far from where Northup was enslaved. She made the story her life’s work. Eakin wrote her master’s thesis about Northup and, after nearly 40 years of research, produced the first authenticated edition of the book in 1968. In 2007, at age 88, she completed a definitive edition with more than 100 pages of ancillary material. Read more →

Holiday Gift Guide

Event: Tennessee Williams/ New Orleans Literary Festival

Event: New Orleans Literary Festival

Location: New Orleans, LA

Description: The 2013 Festival features literary panel discussions, theatrical performances, master classes for individuals desiring a more intensive “one-on-one” opportunity with a notable expert in writing or the arts, and a variety of other events, including our Scholars’ Conference, “Drummer and Smoke” music program, Literary Late Night Series, as well as literary walking tours and food events.

 Tennessee Williams/
New Orleans Literary Festival
938 Lafayette St., Suite 514
New Orleans, LA 70113
504.581.1144 | 800.990.FEST

Start Date: 2013-03-20
End Date: 2013-03-24

Event: Virginia Festival of the Book

Event: Virginia Festival of the Book

Date: Mar. 20-24

Location: Charlottesville, VA

For more information, visit:


Virginia Festival of the Book , March 20-24,2013, Charlottesville, VA  sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The Virginia Festival of the Book is a 5-day festival of mostly free literary events that are open to the public as we honor book culture and promote reading and literacy. On the program:

The Honorable John Lewis (D-GA 5) and Olympian John Carlos will participate in “American Icons: A Conversation with John Lewis and John Carlos,” on Saturday, March 23, 8:00 pm, in the Paramount Theater.

African American Biographies: Americans Who Changed History

Sat. March 23rd, 2013 – 12:00 PM

Featuring Wayne Dawkins (City Son: Andrew W. Cooper’s Impact on Modern-Day Brooklyn), Anne S. Pruitt-Logan (Faithful to the Task at Hand: The Life of Lucy Diggs Slowe), and Valerie C. Cooper (Maria Stewart, The Bible & The Right of African Americans).

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Event: Hurston/Wright Writers’ Week Workshop

Title: Hurston/Wright Writers’ Week Workshop

Location: Howard University, Washington, DC
Description: Writers’ Week is the nation’s only multi-genre workshop for Black writers. Hurston/Wright workshops provide a nurturing, safe space where you can discuss your work, its meaning and its unique aesthetic. During the workshop, you not only get to meet and gather ideas from fellow writers, you will also learn writing techniques from published authors. During one-on-one sessions with your instructor, he or she will provide you with invaluable feedback about your work and the craft of writing.

Dates to Remember

April 3, 2013 – Submission deadline
April 8, 2013 – Notification emails will be emailed
April 22, 2013 – $100 non-refundable deposit is required
June 3, 2013 – Final payment is due

For more information, visit:
Start Date: 20013-07-14
End Date: 2013-07-19

Event: Hurston/Wright Legacy Award

Title: Hurston/Wright Legacy Award
Location: Bowie, MD
Link out: Click here
Description: We are requesting submissions for the 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (see below for details). The submission deadline is November 23, 2012.

The 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Winners/Finalists will be announced in December.

The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award is the first national award presented to published writers of African descent by the national community of Black writers. This award, consists of prizes for the highest quality writing in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.

For more information, visit
Start Date: 20012-09-01
End Date: 2012-11-23