Author R. Kayeen Thomas wins Phillis Wheatley Book Award for First Fiction

“Antebellum” which also secured a 2013 NAACP Image Award Nomination Celebrated during Harlem Book Fair. Antebellum is about a famous rapper who is transported to the antebellum slave period.
July 23, 2013 - PRLog -- (New York, NY) - The Harlem Book Fair celebrated its 15th anniversary by rebooting the Wheatley Awards. In the past, the Phillis Wheatley Award was given as an honor to authors like Maya Angelou (, Gordon Parks ( and Terry McMillan ( for their body of work. During this monumental year, Washington, DC native Author and Social Justice Advocate R. Kayeen Thomas won the Wheatley Award for First Fiction for his critically acclaimed novel Antebellum (Simon & Schuster/Strebor Books 2012), which also secured Thomas a 2013 NAACP Image Award nomination for debut author.  

“ I am honored to win the Wheatley award for my first novel Antebellum,” Thomas said. “I wrote this book to help bridge the gap between my generation, which is hip-hop, and that of our ancestors who experienced civil rights and slavery. With every recognition Antebellum receives,my hope is that a young person will read it or my latest novel The Seven Days and realize how far we have come as a culture.”

There were five finalists in the First Fiction category. A complete list of winners and finalists can be viewed here: Awards Ceremony was held on July 19th 2013 in the Langston Hughes Auditorium at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

About R. Kayeen Thomas

R. Kayeen Thomas
is an author, poet, playwright, hip-hop artist, journalist, and social justice advocate. He self-published his first book, Light: Stories of Urban Resurrection, during his junior year at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. His novel, Antebellum, has garnered praise from such notables as Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and received acclaim from numerous publications, including Publishers Weekly. Most-recently, Thomas won the Phillis Wheatley Award for First Fiction and was nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Debut Author. His third book, The Seven Days, was released on April 16, 2013. Thomas is an ordained minister under the Christian Methodist Episcopal denomination and is currently enrolled in the Master’s of Divinity program at Wesley Theological Seminary.  He resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter. Visit his publishers’ page to learn more:
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