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Duho Books: Embodying a Cultural Past, With a Metaphor for a Bright Literary Future

DL: Hello everyone! It’s my pleasure to introduce guest blogger, Wendy Coakley-Thompson, President of Duho Books, a boutique press based in the Washington, D.C. area. Wendy will talk about her writing career and her journey into the publishing world.
WCT: Hi Dee. Thanks much for the opportunity. When I talk to people about Duho Books, my new Washington DC boutique publishing company that showcases the vibrant history, culture, and people of The Bahamas, I immediately prepare myself for the barrage of questions.  Questions like “What’s a ‘duhu’?” “Why would you publish books about The Bahamas?”  “Does The Bahamas even have a literary tradition?”  In answering such questions, I find that it helps to return to the past for the answers.
            In the summer of 2016, I’d been musing deeply about my writing career—or what was left of it. Since 2002, when I’d become a serious published author, I’d made myriad attempts at hacking the publishing industry. I’d self-published my first novel, Back to Life, a novel about life and interracial love in the aftermath of the 1989 shooting of Yusuf Hawkins, a black teen, by Italian Americans in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. That novel helped me to get an agent, who secured me a two-book deal with Kensington Books. I thought, “This is it! I’ve made it to The Show.”
            Unfortunately, I believe that Big Publishing didn’t know what to do with a literary platypus like me. My books featured relationships, but they weren’t your typical romance novels. I wanted to feature foreign locales and experiences in my fiction that reflected my Bahamian-American multicultural heritage; editors cautioned me against it, for fear of alienating potential audiences.  I was marketed as part of the new African American literature renaissance, but I also wished to widen my audience to reflect the universality of the human experience. Before long, Kensington dropped me after two books. In 2014, I ended up suing them over copyright infringement, but I digress…
            In the ensuing post-Kensington years, I self-published two novels—Triptych and Writing While Black. In my quest to understand the literal and figurative business end of publishing, I co-hosted the radio show called The Book Squad and covered the industry for Examiner.com, Postscript’d, the Grio, and Washington Independent Review of Books. All the while, I noticed a lack of books about multicultural people like me whose beauty is in being an amalgam of many things that contribute to a greater whole. Particularly, I longed to read about The Bahamas, my ancestral home. Specifically, I knew that there were masterful undiscovered authors in The Bahamas who deserved to have a wider audience for their work. Norman Solomon, a great Bahamian businessman and statesman, once said, “See a need, and fill it.” So, in 2016, instead of cursing the dark, I decided to light a candle—and Duho Books was born. Our mission at Duho is unique and long overdue: We want to preserve Bahamian culture through the written word and disseminate it to the world.
            Why the name Duho Books? Well, I love duhos and what they represent. First and foremost, they are artifacts from a time that predates Christopher Columbus and the misery he brought to the land we now call The Bahamas. They represent the Arawaks and Lucayans who had a so-called “civilization” long before Europeans intruded. Specifically, duhos represent a throne on which a chief, commonly called a cacique, is elevated. I see the elevation of the Bahamian experience to its own metaphorical throne once more for generations present and future. So, the duho is a nod to The Bahamas’s pre-European past and a representation of the hope for the future of her culture.
            In September of 2017, Duho had published its inaugural collection, available wherever books are sold: My Name Is Karma, by Bahamian author N.A. Cash; The Lights of Home, by Bahamian-American author Marin Frederique; and the 15th anniversary edition of my first novel, Back to Life. Three more novels joined them this past spring—N.A. Cash’s sophomore novel, My Name Is Karma: Journey to the Truth; The Left-Over Daughters by Bahamian author S. L. Sheppard; and the re-release of my acclaimed 2005 novel What You Won’t Do for Love. This fall will bring a new crop of work for curious readers to enjoy.
            At Duho, we remain on the lookout for good reads that land squarely in line with our stated mission. We publish both fiction and non-fiction. Whether you’re a Bahamian author, use The Bahamas as a setting for your book, or just include information about The Bahamas in your writing, we would like to hear from you. If your work fits the criteria for Duho Books or if you’re interested in what we have to offer, visit our website at www.duhobooks.com  




Comments

  1. Amazing piece, Dee. Thanks for giving Duho Books the exposure!

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    1. Sure thing, Wendy! Wishing you and Duho Books an abundance of success!!

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