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Title: urban fiction street lit hip-hop fiction ghetto lit gangster lit


1
street liturban fiction ghetto lithip-hop
fiction gangsta lit
2
Definition
San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 19, 2003 The
so-called hip-hop books. . .are page- turners
rife with violence, sex and crime they're often
populated by African American characters they're
especially popular among reluctant readers,
notably including young, black men and the
language, cadences, subject matter and aesthetic
evoke comparisons to hip-hop music.
3
Criticism
  • One critic calls it mindless garbage about
    murder, killing, thuggery
  • Another says In ghetto fiction, as in today's
    hip-hop lyrics, the lives of the people who live
    in the 'hood are portrayed as stimulating and
    glamorous. The real-life desperation and need for
    redemption are ignored.
  • Critics say it reinforces stereotypes and
    encourages irresponsible behavior

4
Why Libraries Should Buy It Anyway
  • One defender says "They reflect the world as
    readers know it, the society as they know it,
    much in the that way hip-hop lyrics do.
  • Most of the books are tragic morality tales
    wrongdoing is punished by death or prison so
    overall message is positive
  • Tremendous popularity especially with urban
    teens and 20-somethings, who might otherwise not
    use the library or check out books
  • Gets an audience of reluctant readers excited
    about reading
  • Library Journals says evaluate street lit in the
    context of its genre. Some titles are better than
    others, as in all genres. We need to serve the
    interests and needs of all patrons.

5
Characteristics
  • Often written by younger African-Americans, often
    first-time authors. Some authors are or have been
    in prison.
  • Urban setting, often in housing projects. Popular
    cities include Philadelphia Richmond, VA
    Chicago New York, New Jersey.
  • Gritty include plenty of sex, drugs, and
    violence. Drug dealing, or the game, is a
    common theme.
  • Written in the language of the streets, with
    plenty of slang and four-letter words.
  • Includes many references to brand names,
    especially expensive cars, designer clothing and
    shoes, etc.

6
Characteristics
  • Main female character is often shallow and
    self-centered at the beginning, but learns
    through facing hardships.
  • Characters may profit from drug dealing, enjoying
    their wealth, but eventually most pay the price.
    Many titles end in tragedy violent deaths,
    prison.
  • Often self-published or published by small,
    independent presses.
  • Generally published in a trade paperback format
  • Covers often feature photos of scantily clad
    women, men with guns, expensive cars, etc.
  • May have many grammatical errors and typos
  • Often not reviewed in mainstream publications

7
Timeline
1969 Iceberg Slim (also known as Robert Beck)
publishes Pimp, then other titles including
Trick Baby and Death Wish accounts of life
on the Chicago streets, using authentic
slang 1970s Donald Goines writes Dopefiend
and Whoreson, along with other titles, about
the struggles of pimps, prostitutes, thieves, hit
men, and drug addicts to survive on the
streets. 1998 Teri Woods, a paralegal in
Philadelphia, self-publishes and starts
hand-selling True to the Game, about a young
girl who grows up in the projects and falls for a
drug dealer, with tragic results. Woods goes on
to found Teri Woods Publishing and promote other
urban fiction authors. 1999 Rap artist and
activist Sister Soulja published Coldest Winter
Ever, the story of 17-year-old Winter Santiaga,
the pampered daughter of a Brooklyn drug
kingpin. When her father goes to prison, Winter
must try to survive of her own.
8
Timeline
2001 While in federal prison, Vickie Stringer
writes Let That Be the Reason, then sets up a
company called Triple Crown Publications to
publish other urban fiction authors. 2006
Newsweek declares that hip hop novels are hot
and notes that mainstream publishers want in,
signing the top authors. Newsweek reports
"Hip-hop fiction is doing for 15- to 25-year-old
African-Americans what 'Harry Potter' did for
kids," says Matt Campbell, a buyer for
Waldenbooks. "Getting a new audience excited
about books." For more, see Feb. 2006 Library
Journal article Lessons from the Old School
Street Lit Pioneers http//www.libraryjournal.com
/article/CA6299862.html
9
Popular authors
Teri Woods True to the Game, Dutch Shannon
Holmes B More Careful, Bad Girlz Vickie
Stringer Let That Be the Reason Nikki Turner
A Project Chick Kwan (Foye) Gangsta,
Street Dreams T.N. Baker Cream Tracy Brown
Dime Piece, Black Chunichi A Gangsters
Girl Wahida Clark Thugs and the Women Who
Love Them Keisha Irvin Hold U Down 50 Cent
(writes with other authors)? Zane (erotica,
doesnt quite fit street lit definition but
popular with same readers)?
10
Publishers
Triple Crown Publications Teri Woods
Publishing Urban Books Macavelli Press Black
Print Publishing Melodrama Publishing Q-Boro
Books Ghetto Heat
11
Does adult urban fiction belong in school
libraries?
  • In my opinion, probably not for middle school.
    Direct students to the public library and to teen
    books with a similar setting and feel.
  • High school libraries possibly, depending on
    your community and support, but be ready to
    defend it and have a collection development
    policy.

12
YA Books for Urban Fiction Readers
  • Some teens who read urban fiction want only the
    adult titles, but others are open to also reading
    Young Adult books
  • Direct students who want adult titles to public
    library
  • So what can we give students from our own
    collections?

13
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14
Street Lit for Teens
The following titles have -- Inner-city
settings -- African-American or Latino
characters -- Drama/urban issues (poverty, gangs,
violence, drugs, etc.)? -- Urban slang
15
Bluford series
  • www.townsendpress.com -- 1 a book, write a
    letter and they may send you a set for free. New
    cover from Scholastic. Appropriate for middle
    school.

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19
Drama High series
  • Proudly hailing from Compton, USA,
    sixteen-year-old Jayd Jackson is no stranger to
    drive-by shootings or run-ins with the friendly
    neighborhood crackhead. Street-smart, book-smart,
    and life-smart, shes nobodys foolleast of all
    KJs, the most popular and cutest basketball jock
    at South Bay High, aka Drama High.

20
Imani All Mine
  • Imani All Mine tells the story of Tasha, a
    fourteen-year-old unwed mother of a baby girl. In
    her ghettoized world where poverty, racism, and
    danger are daily struggles, Tasha uses her savvy
    and humor to uncover the good hidden around her.
    High School.

21
Hot Girl
  • Foster child Kate gets a makeover and tries to
    win the boy she likes, but ends up getting into
    trouble. Set in Brooklyn, this novel is
    definitely urban fiction lite for teens, with
    plenty of slang and brand names but a positive
    message. High School (SLJ says gr 8-12).

22
Tyrell
  • Tyrell is a young, African American teen who
    can't get a break. He's living (for now) with his
    spaced-out mother and little brother in a
    homeless shelter. His father's in jail. His
    girlfriend supports him, but he doesn't feel good
    enough for her. High School.

23
Street Pharm
  • Ty Johnson knows survival. Since inheriting his
    pop's business at sixteen, Ty's developed smarts,
    skills, and mad discipline. The supply game's in
    his blood. And life is pretty sweet when you're
    on top. But one slip -- or one serious competitor
    -- and life turns ugly fast. High School.

24
Upstate
  • "Baby, the first thing I need to know from you is
    do you believe I killed my father? So begins
    Upstate, a powerful story told through letters
    between the incarcerated seventeen-year-old
    Antonio and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend,
    Natasha. High School.

25
Emako Blue
  • From the moment she stands up in chorus auditions
    and her heavenly voice fills the room, Emako Blue
    profoundly affects anyone who meets her. But even
    as Emako draws together new friends and catches
    the attention of an important record producer,
    the streets of South Central Los Angeles are
    never far away, where everything changes in one
    horrific instant. Middle and High School.

26
Paul Volponi
  • Crime, violence, and drugs are common themes in
    this authors urban novels. High School.

27
Rita Williams-Garcia
  • Some, but not all, of her novels have urban
    settings and themes. High School.

28
Imani In Young Love. . .
  • Every ACTION has a CONSEQUENCE. How high of a
    price are you willing to pay for that action?
    Five teenagers, Imani, Fatima, Bhriana, Tyler
    Steven, individually collectively discover the
    answer to that question.

29
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31
Alan Lawrence Sitomer
  • Hoopster Trilogy. High School.

32
Ni-Ni Simone
Urban high school setting (inner-city Newark,
NJ), lots of drama, slang, and pop culture
references. PW says 12 and up.
33
Other Favorite YA Authors (often with urban
themes)?
Angela Johnson Gary Soto
34
Not Street Lit, but may appeal to same audience.
. .
The following titles have African-American
characters, but mostly in suburban settings.
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36
ReShonda Tate Billingsly
Good Girlz series Christian teen drama about
friends in a church group.
37
Hotlanta Series
Glamorous, rich twin girls in Atlanta deal with
murder, gossip, and startling secrets. SLJ says
grades 8-10.
38
Dana Davidson
Romance in an affluent black suburban setting, by
a high school teacher in Detroit. High School.
39
Nia Stephens
Choose-your-own adventure romance.
40
Paula Chase Del Rio Bay
Friendship, popularity, drama and romance with a
diverse cast of characters. Middle and High
School.
41
NEW Titles

42
Collection Development
  • Find through booklists and also bought on
    Amazon.com
  • Specialized web sites such as streetfiction.org
    (see resource list)?
  • Word on Street Lit columns by Vanessa J. Morris
    in Library Journal
  • Ask your students!

43
Resources
Library Success Wiki http//libsuccess.org/index
.php?titleUrban_Fiction/Street_Lit/Hip_Hop_Fictio
n_Resources_for_Librarians ALA Wiki
http//wikis.ala.org/professionaltips/index.php/St
reet_Lit_Collection_Development_Resources New
blog created by a librarian http//www.streetfict
ion.org Has a special section for teen urban book
reviews. Word on Street Lit Library Journal
column by Rollie Welch and Vanessa
Morris Vanessa Morris Web site
at http//ted.gse.upenn.edu/vmorris/VJMWebsite/u
rbanfiction.html
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