Illustration for article titled Blacks Are Still Achieving Firsts?

Blacks Are Still Achieving Firsts?
Apparently so, with more to come. Congrats goes to Marie Ndiaye, a French-Senegalese writer who is the first black woman to win the coveted French literary award, the Prix Goncourt. Her novel, Trois femmes puissantes (Three Powerful Women), explores the lives of three women who live in Africa and France. But for Ndiaye, the prize isn't about racial achievement. "I don't represent anything or anyone," the 42-year-old said about her barrier-breaking accomplishment.


Why Are Writers of Color Always Compared to Other Writers of Color?
That's the question that Celeste Ng ponders. As a Chinese American writer, she doesn't want to be compared to Amy Tan just because they’re both Chinese American. Not that Ng doesn't appreciate Tan's work, or want to "write as well as she does, to have a career like hers, to be as awesome as she is." Ng realizes that other writers—black, gay, Jewish—suffer the same fate. To Ng, this too prevalent literary laziness does "writers and readers a huge disservice." She writes that "comparing Asian writers mainly to other Asian writers implies that we're all telling the same story—a disappointingly reductive view." Agreed.

Sarah Jessica Parker as a Representative of Arts and Humanities?
I like Sex and the City as much as any other single woman who has lived in New York, but I would never consider Sarah Jessica Parker, the show's star, as an embodiment of this country's artistic world. Parker is one of 25 actors, entertainers, artists, and professionals appointed to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities charged with connecting "the people of the United States with each other and with the rest of the world through dance, music, literature, painting and sculpture and heritage and cultural tourism." Whatever that means. Other members include actors Edward Norton, Forest Whitaker, and Alfre Woodard, musician Yo-Yo Ma, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.


Who Says You Can't Write a Novel in Thirty Days?
Think you have a book in you? Now's the time to write it. No, for real. November is National Novel Writing Month, an initiative to encourage any and everyone to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. Don't worry. Crap is allowed. The goal is to just write. Last year, more than 120,000 participated and about 20,000 people actually achieved the lofty word count. Why not give it a try?

is a writer, speaker, author of books for adults and youth, and the book columnist for The Root. Her most recent book is \"The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs.\" Visit her at

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