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Urban Literature:
Alternatives to Harris, Dickey, Tyree and Zane

The African American fiction collection at CLP Main has a lot more than Zane. Below are some titles with reviews that can go toe-to-toe with some of our collection's most popular authors. Good themes, good characters and great dialog will take readers to Harlem, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and even suburban New Jersey.

Elam, Patricia
Breathing Room
Pocket Books: 2001
What happens when the teenage daughter you're grooming for a great future in a major ballet or Ivy League university finds herself involved with a young man devoted to the thug life and the code of the streets? When your husband withdraws from your love and you find yourself being comforted by someone from another race, how do you face your cheating ways? Elam tells a story of young love, depression, old love and class struggle that will make parents shiver and married couples take a second look at their partners.

Holmes, Shannon
B-More Careful
Meow Meow Productions: 2001
Time, chance and circumstance mold the characters in Shannon Holmes's gritty novel B-More Careful. The streets of Baltimore (aka B-More), Maryland are the setting for Holmes realistic tale. One young lost-and-turned-out girl from the ghetto rises to the top of her game, hustling the hustlers. Holmes vividly records the erosion of family, community and stability heroin causes in major east coast city neighborhoods. The title is filled with extreme violence and is not at all a read for the faint of heart, but it does provide some insight to the minds and backgrounds of young people who find themselves involved in and endless cycle of violence, addiction and crime.

Major, Marcus
Four Guys and Trouble
Onyx: 2002
Three successful young black men take responsibility for their deceased fraternity brother's younger sister in Major's second work. We join the frats and their charge, Erika, while they are putting her through medical school. Major takes readers on an intimate journey into the minds and personal lives of men who practice the age-old double standard of being over-protective of the women in the family while selectively exploiting those they date and live with. The twist occurs when one of them falls in love with Erika. Four Guys is a real twenty-something feel good novel.

Miller, Karen E. Quinones
Satin Doll
Simon and Schuster: 2001
Quinones-Miller's main character Regina Harris rises from the rough streets of Harlem to become a popular free-lance journalist but her past is never far behind because she spends exhaustive amounts of time and energy proving she's as good as the next girl. Having been shot at gunpoint in the company of a major drug dealer is not something she's trying to hide and it's nothing she wants to flaunt. Quinones-Miller has written an inspiring story of a young woman who evolves from being a shoplifter and girlfriend of pimps to a writer for the New Yorker and wife of a congressman.

Weber, Carl
Player Haters
Dafina Books: 2004
Just when you think Carl Weber can't add more fictional drama to our lives, he drops Player Haters. The Duncan family is holding it together after the death of their father. Eldest brother Trent took his responsibility as Duncan family head seriously but once he felt his job was done he found himself slipping into "playa" land. The whole family has issues that Weber takes great pleasure in resolving in the most humorous and sensible ways; the sister who makes questionable choices when it comes to men, Wil the younger of the Duncan brothers who's wife gives him no love (but who has a secretary who will), and of course, Trent "the lover". Weber's titles are always a little spicy and just one degree beyond realistic.

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