Whether he’s curating a star-studded hip hop tribute for the GRAMMYs or directing an Oscar-winning documentary about the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, Amir “Questlove” Thompson has his fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in the culture. Now, the DJ, producer, author and filmmaker is about to get into the publishing game, and this word nerd could not be more excited.
MCD, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, just announced the launch of AUWA Books, an imprint directed by Thompson dedicated to “finding inspiring new stories and connecting readers to lost voices,” something the publishing industry desperately needs and Thompson says he can’t wait to do.
“I have been writing books for over a decade,” said Questlove in a statement, “so it seemed like a natural step to publish them too. I’m very excited about AUWA Books, from the books we have lined up to the books we haven’t discovered yet. Let’s take it to the page.”
And AUWA is doing exactly that, kicking things off with some pretty big titles. “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” the highly-anticipated memoir by trailblazing musician Sly Stone, is set to drop on October 17, 2023. And Questlove’s “Hip-Hop Is History,” a book about hip-hop’s first 50 years co-written with Ben Greenman will hit shelves in 2024.
While you can count on AUWA to put out books on music, they plan to publish a variety of nonfiction and fiction titles, covering “nearly every topic under the sun.”
In case you were wondering about the story behind the company’s name, AUWA comes from the bird-call sound made popular by some Prince songs (think, “Baby I’m a Star.”) Questlove, who says he’s always felt a kinship with Prince, says AUWA hopes to strengthen the connection between creators and audiences, helping them “find their way to books that matter to them.” And as someone who covers Black literature, my sincere hope is that this means helping readers discover more voices of color who are often overlooked.