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My work is always about identity and empowerment, and I see Sexual Healing as part

of that continuum. Many of the issues discussed in Volunteer Slavery

and Straight, No Chaser are echoed in Sexual Healing in fictional form




Books by Jill Nelson

 Let's Get It On: A Novel  / Finding Martha's Vineyard: African Americans at Home on an Island

Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience / Straight, No Chaser: How I Became a Grown-Up Black Woman

Police Brutality  / Sexual Healing

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An Interview with Jill Nelson


To this point, you've made your reputation writing nonfiction. Why a novel?

I love writing nonfiction, but life is about challenges, and writing a novel has definitely been a challenge. This has been an opportunity for me to stretch myself as a writer in ways I haven't since college, when I wrote mainly fiction and thought journalism was something I'd do for a few years until I wrote a great African American novel. Fiction is also a way to reach a broader audience. Women read more fiction than nonfiction, and since I see my first audience as women, a novel was just the logical and exciting next step in my career. 

What was the genesis of this particular story?

Several years ago in conversation, a friend was explaining to me why she'd "retired" from dating. Then she said, "What black women need is a brothel for women." Her words stuck in my mind, and I called her and told her I wanted to use her comment as the framework for a novel. That was fine with her, as long as I dedicated the book to her, which I have.

Acey and Lydia, my protagonists, are like so many women I know who are best friends. They're very different in some ways—Lydia's a hedonist while Acey's steeped in traditional notions about relationships—yet they are alike in their ambition, their sexual desires and needs, and their willingness to overcome fear and fight for what they believe in. And they are winners, which was very important to me; literature needs more smart, ambitious, sexy, wild women who don't get saddled and tamed. 

How do you see this new book as building on your earlier titles?

My work is always about identity and empowerment, and I see Sexual Healing as part of that continuum. Many of the issues discussed in Volunteer Slavery and Straight, No Chaser are echoed in Sexual Healing in fictional form, particularly women's struggle to self-define and not be limited or oppressed by the expectations of others. I'm fascinated by the ways people go about unearthing, defining, and owning our true selves in what are often adverse conditions. Sexual Healing examines those themes, using both business and sexuality as prisms through which to look at issues of identity and ownership.

How do you think readers will react to the way you write about women's experience of sex? Some of the scenes in the book are very explicit.

I think women will recognize parts of themselves, their mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends, not to mention the men in their lives—from Daddy to their minister to their man—and say Amen. I think men will learn a lot about women's sexuality through this book, and that's always good. Some people may be scandalized, but that's OK, too. The truth is sometimes so surprising we are taken aback. That's cool, as long as we can move forward and see the value in what has been revealed. And I dare anyone to read Sexual Healing and not laugh out loud.

As for being explicit, the sex act itself is inherently explicit—or at least, good sex usually is. I wanted to write about women's sexual pleasure stripped down to its essence, and avoid the soft-focus, gauzy, style of writing about sex. Sexual Healing is about two women's efforts to own their selves, their business, and their sexuality. In order to write this story, I had to own all that stuff too, including the sex.

This meant I had to push the censors, both my own and those of the larger society, off my shoulders. The mandate of A Sister's Spa is to give women pleasure on their own terms, so it was important to be very clear about what women see as pleasurable. I read a great deal, talked to many women, remembered, experimented, and, yes, fantasized in order to write the explicit sections. I wanted those sections to be both a compelling read and physically arousing, to turn the reader on intellectually and physically.

Agate Publishers 1501 Madison St. Evanston, IL 60202  (847) 363-1830

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Jill Nelson was born and raised in Harlem and has been a working journalist for over twenty years. She is a graduate of the City College of New York and the Columbia School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Essence, The Washington Post, The Nation, Ms., The Chicago Tribune and the Village Voice. Jill was a staff writer for the Washington Post Magazine during its first years of existence, and was named Washington D.C. Journalist of the Year for her work there. She freelances and lectures widely, and writes a twice-monthly column, “On the Verge,” for and is a monthly contributor to the Op Ed page of USA Today.

She was a professor of Journalism at the City College of New York from 1998 to 2003. Jill wrote the best-selling memoir, Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience(Noble Press, hardcover, 1993 and Penguin, paperback, 1994) which won an American Book Award.

 She is the author of Straight, No Chaser: How I Became a Grown-Up Black Woman (Putnam, Fall 1997, Penguin, Winter 1999) and edited Police Brutality: An Anthology, for WW Norton, published in April 2000. Her first novel, / Sexual Healing, was released in June 2003. Her latest book, the non-fiction Finding Martha's Vineyard: African Americans at Home on an Island was published in May 2005 by Random House. The mother of an adult daughter, and a grandmother, she lives in Harlem. Jill Nelson Bio

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#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

By Ron Suskind

A new book offering an insider's account of the White House's response to the financial crisis says that U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner ignored an order from President Barack Obama calling for reconstruction of major banks. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, the incident is just one of several in which Obama struggled with a divided group of advisers, some of whom he didn't initially consider for their high-profile roles. Suskind interviewed more than 200 people, including Obama, Geithner and other top officials . . . The book states Geithner and the Treasury Department ignored a March 2009 order to consider dissolving banking giant Citigroup while continuing stress tests on banks, which were burdened with toxic mortgage assets. . . .Suskind states that Obama accepts the blame for mismanagement in his administration while noting that restructuring the financial system was complicated and could have resulted in deeper financial harm. . . . In a February 2011 interview with Suskind, Obama acknowledges another ongoing criticism—that he is too focused on policy and not on telling a larger story, one the public could relate to. Obama is quoted as saying he was elected in part because "he had connected our current predicaments with the broader arc of American history," but that such a "narrative thread" had been lost.—Gopusa

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 29 February 2012




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Related files:  Sexual Healing Reviews  Sexual Healing Interview