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APRIL 18

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A gangsta backlash is under way. Fed up with sensationalistic urban-strife novels and accounts of low-income victimhood, readers have been calling for books about the underrecognized African-American middle class—and publishers have finally taken heed. Writers benefiting from this trend include Atlanta’s E. Lynn Harris, Twin Cities scribe David Haynes, San Francisco’s April Sinclair, and D.C.-bred Falls Church resident Connie Briscoe, the best-selling author of Sisters and Lovers. Briscoe’s new novel, Big Girls Don’t Cry, follows Sinclair’s 1960s-coming-of-age formula, as seen in the memorable Coffee Will Make You Black. Main character Naomi Jefferson’s youth in Northeast Washington coincides perfectly with the civil rights movement, but she’s as concerned with boys and fashion as she is with politics; later, Naomi encounters racism and other societal ills as she attends college and eventually starts her own consulting business, bucking inner-city stereotypes all the while. Briscoe reads at 12:30 p.m. at Reprint Book Shop, 455 L’Enfant Plaza SW. FREE. (202) 554-5070. She’ll also read at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 429-9272. (Nathalie op de Beeck)