(CNN) - With two former winners among the contenders for the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction, this year's shortlist highlights the literary world's top female power players. Formerly known as the Orange prize, the £30,000 ($45,000) award for best female writing in English across the globe will be announced Wednesday.
CNN takes a closer look at the six women going head-to-head for one of the most celebrated literature accolades.
Editor's note: Leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, CNN spoke with Bernice King, the civil rights leader's youngest daughter, about the the new children's book, "I Have A Dream." The images in the book were painted by award-winning illustrator Kadir Nelson, whom CNN.com's In America blog interviewed last year. "Very few people are able to capture him, and I think he's done just a wonderful job here," Bernice King said of Nelson's paintings of her father. Watch the video, and read the interview with Nelson from last January below.
By Stephanie Siek, CNN
(CNN) - "Most folks my age and complexion don’t speak much about the past," says the grandmotherly African-American woman who narrates "Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans," a book illustrated and written by Kadir Nelson.
The American Library Association announced Monday that "Heart and Soul" won the Coretta Scott King Book Award in the author category, and as an honor winner in the illustrator category. Last week, it was announced the book is a nominee for an NAACP Image Award for children's literature.
"Many of us are getting up in age and feel it’s time to make some things known before they are gone for good. So it’s important that you pay attention, honey, because I’m only going to tell you this story but once," the unnamed narrator says.
The narrator’s words are accompanied by Nelson's sculptural, intensely colorful illustrations, which interweave images of American history with those of her family’s struggles and triumphs in a country that only recently acknowledged their full potential as human beings.
Nelson’s book was selected among more than 100 entries for the award, which aims to promote children’s books, authors and illustrators that portray some aspect of the African-American experience. Jonda McNair, who chaired the award selection committee, said they were impressed by Nelson's marriage of the text to the illustrations.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Ayana Mathis' story seems one of overnight sensation.
It begins like this: She was on vacation in Paris and was expecting a 15-minute call for a couple of quotes about her first novel.
She picked up the telephone to hear the voice of none other than Oprah Winfrey, who'd tapped Mathis' debut work for her book club.
And whoosh! She was off.
Publisher Knopf sped up her publication date by six weeks and increased the initial print run to 125,000.
Mathis' face appeared in magazines and newspapers along with profiles and a glowing review in The New York Times.
It was, she said, stunning.
She felt like a pendulum, swinging from elation one moment to overwhelmed the next. FULL POST
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send Feedback | Subscribe