Omar Tyree, Marcus Major, and Eric Jerome Dickey are part of a growing trend of sensitive African-American fiction penned by men

By Clarissa Cruz
Updated September 01, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Move over, Terry McMillan: When it comes to writing sexy, sensitive novels for today’s hot African-American publishing market, it ain’t nothing but a guy thang. In addition to E. Lynn Harris, young writers like Eric Jerome Dickey, Colin Channer, Omar Tyree, and Marcus Major are churning out books. Says Nelson George, whose novel One Woman Short was released in June, ”Black male fiction writers have tended, historically, to be more political. This generation has been able to take some of the themes of black male songwriting — falling in love, falling out of love, being cheated on — and apply them to literature. You’re seeing the literary equivalent of the great R&B love songs.” Here’s a cheat sheet to the current crop of crooners.

Latest book: Liar’s Game
Sample line: ”[She had] rapturous midnight skin in a golden business suit … A womanly shape that should be engraved in stone from the heart of the motherland.”
On writing for the ladies: ”Tell the truth as far as the characters are concerned — get into his mind, his job, his heart, his bedroom — and people will feel the honesty.”

Latest book: For the Love of Money
Sample line: ”He was dressed in all cream like his car, looking one hundred percent like a fine-ass model … However, it still had to be on my terms.”
On writing for the ladies: ”We don’t call them romances because we have this image of romance being this floating across Fantasy Island stuff. We’re dealing mainly with real relationships between couples.”

Latest book: Waiting in Vain
Sample line: ”He understood her jokes … and shadowed her subtlest shifts in mood … Which is why the tenderness he showed her was so erotic — it had transcended the needs of the flesh.”
On writing for the ladies: ”Women make love with words, and my language is very grounded in the rhythms of poetry and wordplay and metaphor.”

Latest book: Good Peoples
Sample line: ”She kept warning him that he was spoiling her and creating a monster, but he really didn’t care.”
On writing for the ladies: ”I think women like to get a man’s take on a relationship. And if more sensitivity is a by-product of the genre we’re writing, it’s only going to make the relationships between African-American men and women stronger.”