The mainstreaming of street lit.

Author:Dodson, Angela P.
Position:Between the lines: the inside scoop on what's happening in the publishing industry

NIKKI TURNER (top) now has her own imprint at One World/Ballantine. Turner, a favorite among fans of urban literature, is the author of A Hustler's Wife and A Project Chick (both Triple Crown), Tales From Da Hood (One World/Ballantine, January 2006) and Riding Ditty on I-95 (One World/Ballantine, May 2006).

CAROL SCHNEIDER, vice president and executive director for publicity and public relations at the Random House Publishing Group, announced the agreement to create the Nikki Turner Presents line this spring.

Turner will select urban fiction by other authors, two to three books a year, with an emphasis on original and authentic voices, Schneider said. MELODY GUY, senior editor of One World/Ballantine, has also acquired three more novels by Turner from MARC GERALD of The Agency Group, including a sequel to A Hustler's Wife for spring 2007. Wife sold more than 100,000 copies and has been optioned for film.

"Turner has proven herself to be a star in the urban literary scene," says Guy, "and we are pleased to continue and build upon our relationship with her."

At BookExpo America in May, Turner was the lone street lit author called on to defend the genre on the panel "Too Hood or All Good: The Impact of Urban Fiction on African American Literature," sponsored by the African American Program for Bookselling Professionals. NICK CHILES (second from top), the author and journalist who moderated, set the tone, starting with a question directed at Turner: "Does urban fiction represent progress in a sense, that we no longer care how we look to others in producing these books? Is the term 'embarrassment to the race' obsolete?"

It was on. Turner replied: "I am not interested in how we look to white people. I am interested in literacy in the community and being able to get people to read books who have never read before."

Chiles was the author of a New York Times Op-Ed piece lamenting that retail space in his suburban, chain bookstore has been swallowed up by urban lit with salacious covers under the banner of "African American Literature," relegating all other black books to obscurity.

Also on the panel were BENILDE LITTLE (third from top), author of four successful, more mainstream black novels, including Good Hair (Simon & Schuster, 1996), which has been optioned for film...

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