Daniel Black (1965–)
Daniel Black is a nationally renowned, award-winning novelist. His works are inspired by African-American life, history, and heritage in the South—encompassing themes of race, religion, and sexuality.
Daniel Black was born on November 28, 1965, in Kansas City, Kansas, but grew up in Arkansas in Blackwell (Conway County). His great-grandmother, Stella Swinton, was his childhood caregiver. He graduated from Morrilton High School in Morrilton (Conway County).
Upon graduation from Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1988, he was awarded a full fellowship to Temple University, where he earned a master’s in 1990 and a doctorate in 1992, both in African-American studies. Black also earned the prestigious Oxford Modern British Studies fellowship, leading him to study at Oxford University in 1987. He studied under Sonia Sanchez, who many consider to be the poet laureate of the Black Arts Movement.
Black, who lives in Atlanta, is a professor of African-American studies and English at his alma mater Clark Atlanta University and at Morehouse College, where he has mentored burgeoning writers and scholars since 1993. Black is also the founder of the Ndugu and Nzinga Rites of Passage Nation, a mentoring society that teaches character and the principles to African-American youth. Within that society, Black is known as Omotosho Jojomani.
Black credits his great-grandmother for inspiring him to write stories that work to transform and uplift humanity. Among his literary works are They Tell Me of a Home (2005), The Sacred Place (2007), Perfect Peace (2010), Twelve Gates to the City (2011), The Coming (2015), and Listen to the Lambs (2016)—all published by St. Martin’s Press. Black has been nominated for the Townsend Literary Prize, the Ernest J. Gaines Award, the Ferro-Grumley Literary Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Georgia Author of the Year Prize; in addition, he was awarded the Writer’s Award from the Middle-Atlantic Writers Association.
One of Black’s most noted works is Perfect Peace. For this novel, the Go on Girl! Book Club named him its Author of the Year in 2011. It was also chosen as the 2014 selection for “If All Arkansas Read the Same Book” by the Arkansas Center for the Book at the Arkansas State Library. Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alice Walker described the book, about a young boy being raised as a girl until turning eight years old, as “a spellbinding novel that kept me reading late into several nights….It is a gift to have so much passion, so much love, so much beautiful writing so flawlessly faithful to the language of ancestors who grappled as best they could with more than they could ever understand. This novel will one day be a film of much benefit to us, if done well. The visuals of it will help us see what we are so often blind to: the great fluidity inherent in all things, including ‘race’ and sexuality.”
Black’s The Coming, which was released in 2015, is a first-person account of the trauma and triumph of Africans on a slave ship in the sixteenth century. Reviewers have described it as “brilliant,” “poetic,” and a “literary homage to the lives of those Africans tossed into the sea.” His novel Listen to the Lambs, released in 2016, explores the lives of homeless people who find each other on the street. In 2022, he published Don’t Cry for Me, a novel inspired by his own father’s struggles with Alzheimers, in which the narrator relates stories about his own ancestral ties to Arkansas.
For additional information:
Arkansas Center for the Book—If All Arkansas Read the Same Book: 2014 Selection, Perfect Peace by Daniel Black. https://www.library.arkansas.gov/programs/arkansas-center-for-the-book/if-all-arkansas-read-the-same-book/past-selections/ (accessed March 14, 2023).
Daniel Black. http://us.macmillan.com/author/danielblack (accessed March 14, 2023).
Jajuan S. Johnson
Little Rock, Arkansas
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