Diane McKinney-Whetstone wrote her first novel, "Tumbling" (Morrow; $24), from 5 to 7 a.m. every day before heading off to a day job and signed a contract for its publication a week after she completed it. The Washington Post said this story of a black family in the '40s and '50s in Philadelphia "should place her at the forefront of a generation of emerging African-American novelists."
During a stop in San Francisco, she was asked: "Do you think a black novelist writing about black families feels a different burden than a white novelist writing about white families?""Sure," said McKinney-Whetstone. "But there are a growing number of black authors starting to tell all different kinds of stories. We should have the same luxury as any other writer has, to tell our story from an honest place. Our voices should be so many that one thing cannot be picked out and said, `This is representative of the black community.' . . . We should have the freedom to write without having to be concerned that our work will be perceived as `This is how black people are everywhere.' "
- Leah Garchik