African-American Literature, Heroes in Fact and in Fiction

The month of February has been set aside as a time to acknowledge and pay tribute to the wealth of contributions that African-Americans have made to all aspects of life in the United States and in the world. Here at the Library, we are especially mindful of the contributions African-Americans have made to literature.

To get a sense of the scope of that contribution, we urge readers to go to Wikipedia and type in “List of African-American Authors.”  You will find an alphabetical list of names that goes on and on and on, from the earliest- Olaudah Equiano, 1745-1797, who wrote a hugely successful autobiography that made him a wealthy man- to 1993 Nobel Laureate in Literature Toni Morrison, who once commented, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” If you are so inclined to give that some thought, you want to be sure to consider its movie rights!

As we know, many good books become movies. For those of you who enjoy comparing the movie versions to the books, don’t miss “Fences,” the adaptation of 1987 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner August Wilson’s play by the same name and “Hidden Figures,” based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book by the same name. In equally brilliant works, Wilson and Shetterly present different, compelling perspectives on racial relations in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  “Fences,” a work of fiction, follows the social and psychological struggles of Troy, an African American man,  who eventually does break the race barrier.

It is considered by many critics to be an allegory; that is, it is representative of universal issues and morality. “Hidden Figures,” based on the lives of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, tells the story of the contribution of these three African-American women, all exceptionally gifted mathematicians, who make important contributions to NASA’s efforts to put a man in space in the early 60’s. One of them, Katherine Johnson, is responsible for the mathematical calculations that put John Glenn in orbit and, even more importantly, brought him back to earth. The Library’s collection includes the work of both authors, as well as a “Young Readers’ Edition” of “Hidden Figures.”

Looking Forward

At the time of writing, the Library is looking forward to a visit from “Friend of the Library” Kelly Decker’s Brownie Troop 6138. The Scouts will be fulfilling requirements for their “Computer Expert Badge.”

• On February 16th at 7pm, Library Director Sandra Arden will be speaking with the ladies of the Catasauqua Women’s Club at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 4th and Pine. Please join us.
• On February 23th from 6-7:30, Library Director Sandra Arden will be at Sheckler School for Literacy Night. Hope to see some of you.
• On March 11th, the Library will hold a Bake Sale from 10-12:30.
• And, on March 16th at 6pm, the Library is again partnered with Hartzell’s Pharmacy for a “Health Talk: Sleep Problems.”
• Looking well ahead, on April 20th at 6pm, North Penn Legal Services will present a program on “Landlord Tenant Issues.”

New Books

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett Harper
“1984” by George Orwell
“Echoes in Death” by J.D. Robb
“Humans, Bow Down” by James Patterson with Emily Raymond
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe
“A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles
“Fences” by August Wilson

“Audacity” by Jonathan Chait
“Tears We Cannot Stop” by Michael Eric Dyson
“Thank You for Being Late” by Thomas L. Friedman
“When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi
“Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah
“Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly

Youth Authors Non-Fiction:
“Hidden Figures, Young Reader’s Edition” by Margot Lee Shetterly

“The Girl Who Drank the Moon” by Kelly Barnhill

“Radiant Child” by Javaka Steptoe
“The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister
“Mighty Mighty Construction Site” by Sherri Durkey Rinker

Children Non-Fiction:
“National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Why” by Amy Shields