I'm really surprised...
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So what can we do to get something going here? Unfortunately, I'm not reading a black author right now. I'm in the middle of the Left Behind series, so I can't suggest a current book. But I'll take suggestions and talk about older books if you want!
LT member browngirl has created an African Diaspora Reading Challenge on her web page. I've posted a list of books by AfrAm and African authors that I've read and enjoyed over the past 10+ years.
So far this year I've read several books by African or African-American authors:
Matigari by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o: Ngugi is probably my favorite African author, he is originally from Kenya and teaches at UC Irvine. My review is on the book's page on LT.
Black Feeling Black Talk (reviewed) and Black Judgement by Nikki Giovanni: her first two collections of poems, from the book The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni.
Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste: reviewed.
CharlotteMarie, I'm so glad you've read Left Behind. I have an observation and I didn't know where to post it...
I am on book 11, and I'm noticing that the authors have several different ethnic groups and races contribute something major to God's cause, but the black characters have had only minor roles. Of the two with the largest roles, one was only part of the Tribulation Force for half a book before he died and the other never even met the rest in hiding before he was killed off as well. This series is like a horror movie where the black guy always get killed first! Did you notice that? How did it make you feel? I wonder if they were conscious of doing it as they were writing?
Who wrote Renegade? Although all of the books you and kidzdoc listed sound interesting, I don't think I'm emotionally up to reading anything heavy right now. My work is about uplifting the oppressed and inspiring them to take responsibility and change their community. I'm just not ready to read about more oppression and mistreatment on my off time.
Are either of you reading anything halfway happy?
At the moment, no. I'm just about to finish a book of novellas and short stories by Stefan Zweig, and I'm also reading Albert Camus: A Life and The Surrendered, the new novel by Chang-Rae Lee which is anything but happy! I can't think of the last "happy" book I've read; I'll have to think about this a bit.
Has anyone else, posting or lurking, read Cadillac Orpheus by Solon Timothy Woodward. I so wanted to like it, but I think his approach was a little too, I don't know, razzle dazzle for me. Any thoughts and insight I should consider in case I ever attempt a re-read?
Possibly not that cheerful, but Octavia Butler wrote a set in near future book (probably set about now as it's perhaps about 20 years old) about a young woman escaping from a society gone horribly wrong and her adventures trying to move to a new life. There is a sequel which I still have to read. I think the first is Parable of the Sower and the second Parable of the Talents but I might have got those the wrong way round.
My boyfriend read some of the Left Behind books but they really didn't appeal to me much.
I've never read anything by Percival Everett. I'll check him out.
I'm still struggling through book 11 of the Left Behind series. I'm really tired of the repetition. But I've come this far, so I want to finish.
I mainly read literary fiction and nonfiction by POC authors. I'm finishing up A Wish After Midnight. It's YA fiction which I rarely read, but I'm enjoying it.
I don't have a favorite read yet for this year, but last year was definitely The Book of Night Women. This year, I've enjoyed Wench and Page From a Tennessee Journal.
I have read and reviewed several books by African American, African, or Caribbean authors so far this year:
Matigari by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o (Kenya): He is probably my favorite African writer, and his most recent novel Wizard of the Crow is fabulous. This book was very good, as well (4-1/2 stars).
Small Island by Andrea Levy (Jamaica/UK): This is definitely my favorite read in this category for the year so far.
Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia): A strong debut novel set in the aftermath of the overthrow of Haile Selassie.
The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: This book is a collection of her published poems from 1968-1998, and includes seven previously published books. I've read two of the books, Black Feeling Black Talk and Black Judgement, and I'm currently reading the third book, Re: Creation.
The Long Song by Andrea Levy (Jamaica): This is her latest novel, set in Jamaica during and after the final years of slavery.
School Days by Patrick Chamoiseau (Martinique): A light hearted short novel about a young boy's experiences in kindergarten and first grade.
Street of Lost Footsteps by Lyonel Trouillot (Haiti): A haunting novella about a night of violence in modern day Port-Au-Prince.
My next read in this category, other than Re: Creation, will be An Elegy for Easterly, a collection of short stories by the Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah, which was published in the UK last year.
I returned today to post a thread...just wondering how everyone is doing and to find out what's the best book you've read since your last post. Thanks to evereyone who put in their two cents.
I've recently read Best African American Fiction 2010, this year edited by Nikki Giovanni. These anthologies are where I introduce myself to new writers and subject matter. This volume seemed to contain quite a few deeply dramatic excerpts by African writers depicting scenes of torture, murder and war. I wonder, are we just now discovering the African and Caribbean writers or are there fewer writers being published writing about the African American experience?
I've looked forward to reading Bernice McFadden's new book, Glorius (Johnny Temple). (Too bad it's first printing is in paperback form...why is that?) I think you'll enjoy East of Easterly and based on recommendations, I've added Percival Everett to my author list.
Thanks for the input, and I'll talk to you all later!....
I had a totally different opinion of Left Behind. I purchased the first book years ago and it is the only book of Christian fiction in my library. But I read the blurb on the back and thought that it it sounded like a good story. I got through the 1st chapter and thought the writing was pretty inept. To be honest, I can't tell you the exact reason why because it was so long ago but it is one of my Top 10 worst books I ever picked up and tried to read. I did see the movie and that was at least watchable.
elkiedee and bohemiangirl35, I really enjoy Octavia Butler. She's one of my favorite authors and I would highly recommend both Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. I also enjoyed her last book Fledging. I thought her take on vampires was quite unique. Another series I'm reading is Vampire Huntress by L.A. Banks (on #3 of 12). I'm hoping to finish the series by the end of the year and then start on her werewolf series. I would love to see her Vampire Huntress come to screen with Jada Pinkett as the lead. Especially since she was fabulous in the Matrix.
kidzdoc, thanks for your suggestions on Caribbean and African authors. I have been picking up a lot of the paperbacks in the African Writers series over the last year. I have several by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. I'll have to add a few to be TBR list year; as well as, Zadie Smith and Percival Everett.
In addition to the Vampire Huntress series, I'm currently reading Emissaries for the Dead (Sci Fi group read), and On the Beach by Neil Shute. Since the holidays, I have been on a post-apocalyptic reading binge.
Yesterday I finished Morning Haiku, a collection of poems in Haiku form by Sonia Sanchez, which I reviewed here.
Later today I'll start Bicycles: Love Poems, the latest collection by Nikki Giovanni.
I found a copy of The Water Cure by Percival Everett at one of my favorite NYC bookstores (Strand Bookstore), and I ordered another Everett novel, Wounded: A Novel from BookCloseouts.com last night.
Right now, I see a string of scenes from Sidney Poitier's movies experienced by someone with very little emotion. The absence of emotion in Not Sidney made me sad for him. The book is sort of like an alternate universe if the real Mr. Poitier were his characters instead of an actor who played those characters.
I still think it is a Forrest Gump-like story. (kidszdoc, you'll remember I mentioned that in a post in a different thread before I completed the book.) I'm not sure what the point of the story was. I never felt a strong emotion for Not Sidney, just slightly sad that nothing really seemed affect him. Ted Turner was a weirdo, but I know people who jump from subject to subject like that when they talk so his character was pretty funny - my friends would say he was "random." :) Everett's character was random as well, Professor of Nonsense? Was that a comment on the story, itself?
Let me know what you thought. Maybe I'll have a more formed opinion tomorrow!
goddesspt2, welcome! I agree with you that the writing in the Left Behind series is pretty bad. However, I thought the story was good in the beginning. The books got progressively worse, which is why book 12 has been sitting on my shelf for at least a week and I haven't opened it.
I think the authors could have done the whole thing in less than half the number of books they actually wrote. The series reminds me of a soap opera, lots of repetitive dialogue that doesn't move the story along much until the end of each book (which is why I skimmed the middle of each book when I got bored). But all of them ended with cliffhangers.
Hi browngirl and greytone! Looks like we're getting a little group going here. Woo hoo!
Well, I would like to share a new book I just purchased today that I'm excited to begin entitled:
The Long Song a novel by Andrea Levy (born in England to Jamaican parents)
It would be nice if our menbers would drop by and SAY what they are currently reading
maybe once a week. It would allow for discussion and recommendations for our libraries.
#23, 24: I haven't read anything by Octavia Butler, and I can't think of any writers from the African Diaspora that is writing science fiction. Which of her books would you recommend?
#24: I completely agree with you, and I will try to remember to post my book reviews here as I read them, or weekly if I haven't read anything. I'll also post interviews or articles about authors from the African Diaspora as I run across them.
Let's see...I've read and reviewed several books since my last post:
Three books of poems by Nikki Giovanni: Bicycles: Love Poems, her latest collection, and two of the previously released collections in The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni, Re: Creation and The Women and the Men.
An Elegy for Easterly by the Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah, the winner of last year's Guardian First Book Award, a collection of short stories about Zimbabweans within and outside of the country. My review is in the latest issue of the online literary magazine Belletrista:
Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez, a poet and former professor at Philadelphia's Temple University, which is her latest collection of poems, all in haiku form.
Dreams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir by the Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o: I haven't reviewed this yet, but I'll write it up later this week and post it here, as it was very good.
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey, a British author of Jamaican descent, which is on the current shortlist for this year's Orange Prize for Fiction, a novel about a British couple living in post-independence Jamaica.
Dread: Poems by Ai, a poet of African-American and Japanese descent and former professor at Oklahoma State University, who died this past March, which is a collection of poems about childhood trauma. Her book Vice: Poems won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1999, and I plan to read it later this year.
Black Mamba Boy, the debut novel by Nadifa Mohamed, a British writer of Somali descent, which made the longlist (but not the shortlist) for this year's Orange Prize for Fiction, which is a fictionalized account of the life of her father, who made his own way as a young child from British Somaliland in the 1930s to Italian-occupied Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, and eventually to the UK. There is a brief (2-1/2 minute) YouTube video, in which the author talks about her book:
Black Mamba Boy - Nadifa Mohamed
Letters from London by CLR James: A collection of seven articles that the famed Trinidadian historian, postcolonial theorist and Marxist wrote for the Port of Spain Guardian when he arrived in London for the first time in 1932.
As far as suggestions for science fiction, I really like Steven Barnes. He has written a 2-part alternate history (Lion's Blood and Zulu Heart). He also has co-written several novels with Larry Niven and has written episodes for Stargate and Andromeda. I also follow his blog Dar Kush (link is on his author page). He recently caused a stir among Stephen King addicts on twitter while critiquing King's portrayal of Blacks in King's novels.
Along with Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delaney is also excellent having won 4 Nebula and 2 Hugo awards. He's a very cerebral writer and some of his best novels are Babel-17, Einstein Intersection, and Dahlgren. His aunts were the Delany Sisters.
I also like Nalo Hopkinson. She was born in Jamaica but now resides in Canada. She has written several books and edited a couple of anthologies. Her books reflect a Caribbean sensibility. I follow her on twitter.
There is also a 2-volume anthology of speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror) writers called Dark Matter written by Sheree Thomas. I highly recommend these. They include stories by George S. Schuyler and W. E. B. Du Bois. George S. Schuyler's Black No More, also highly recommended. Written during the Harlem Renaissance, it is a story about turning Black people White -- heavy on satire and features caricatures of Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, and Madame CJ Walker.
There is a whole genre called Afrofuturism around speculative authors, musicians, art, film from the African Disapora. One of my book collecting passions is around this area. There is a good website listing artists in these various areas but it is currently being re-designed. There are also some good literary criticisms in this area.
In horror there is Brandon Massey and Tananarive Due (she also writes historical fiction - Joplin's Ghost had me buying ragtime after reading, Black Rose based Madame CJ Walker. She is also married to Steven Barnes and with her husband and Blair Underwood they are writing their third book as a team). I've also finished the first 3 of 12 books in the Vampire Huntress series by L.A. Banks. There are elements of West African, Latin America, vodoun mythologies weaved throughout her series. She currently is writing a series on werewolves (I won't start for a while).
Anyway, I could go on about speculative fiction so I'll stop here.
I just finished reading Ishmael Reed's Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media which contains essays about the media's portrayal of Obama during the election through the health care debate. Let's just say no American publisher would touch it, he had to publish it in Canada. Reed'sMumbo Jumbo is another great example of spec ficton, he coined the term Talking Android. I first read this a couple of decades ago in college English and it is one of my frequent re-reads over the years.
I teach middle school therfore I read a great deal of young adult literature. I am grateful
for the recommendations.
In My TBR room, I do see Thunderland by Brandon Massey. I am going to take it off the shelf and hopefully I will get to it this week.
Goddesspt2, I am definitely checking out the Afrofuturism genre!
Kidzdoc, Thanks for posting your titles. I joined the forum to expose myself to more authors outside the YA genre.
Take a look at LT guess writer Dexter Palmer's "The Dream of Perpetual Motion" -- I chatted with him, purchased his book and its on my summer reading list. Also, Tananarive Due's "Blood Colony" - I haven't read yet but its on my list too. I have her book Joplin's Ghost and read The Black Rose (story of Madam C.J. Walker).
I miss Ocatvia Butler also. Her, I believe last interview was on http://www.democracynow.org/2005/11/11/science_fiction_writer_octavia_butler_on
I have the Democracy Now interview on my iPod. The Sci-Fi channel, had produced an audio drama of Butler's Kindred. Unfortunately, with the re-launch of Sci-Fi as SyFy (don't even get me started with that), one of Butler's fan blogs has the MP3s available (the audio is in four parts). It stars Alfre Woodard, Lynn Whitfield, and Ruby Dee. More great iPod listening (there's even a nice album cover you can use). You can listen here:
There are additional You-tube videos available on this same site from the audio and video section in the left navigation bar (includes an adaptation of a student filming of Dawn, the first book in the Xenogenesis trilogy).
I also purchased a DVD where Charlie Rose is interviewing Octavia Butler from Amazon. This DVD also had a bonus which includes an interview with Afro-Brit author Zadie Smith. Smith's debut novel, White Teeth won multiple awards and was made into a television adaptation aired on PBS. Her third novel, On Beauty was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction. You can view the interviews here:
Butler's interview starts 40 minutes in and was conducted after Parable of the Talents was published.
Flutist Nicole Mitchell has composed music inspired by Butler's writings: Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler and Xenogenesis II: Intergalactic Beings. There is a CD available for the first one, but the 2nd was premiered live on April 30th and no CD is yet available, though there is a interview on Youtube w/ musical excerpts from the composition.
Thanks for the recommendation of Palmer's work. I will check it out.
Looks like I'll be browsing Amazon and putting things in my cart and wishlist this weekend :P
And, I adore Charlie Rose too! Have you seen his interivew with Judith Weir, Jessye Norman, Toni Morrison and Clarissa Pinkola Estes author of Women Who Run With The Wolves (my favorite life impacting book in which I return to often)
A discussion about "woman.life.song"
Monday, March 20, 2000
I believe my Summer Reading 2010 is about to be revised! What an awesome site: Afrofuturism.net
Thanks for getting the conversation started. It has been awhile since I have seen this much activity in our forum. Blood Colony is the last book in the her vampire trilogy.
I have yet to read it. Also I am going to take a look at
Goddesspt2 the website is fantastic!
Thunderland is coming along well. I can't remember to bring it home to read! It reminds me of The Between by Tananarive Due with the suggestion of a alternate universe existing.
I just closed the cover of The Long Song by Andrea Levy after much struggle. I found the book to be disconnected and void of purposeful thought. I'm moving forward with caution in choosing what I'll invest in to read which is lending my choice to the classics.
I'm switching back to completing: The Great Cosmic Mother, Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth by Monica Sjoo & Barbara Mor and moving onto Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion and then to Douglas Adams' The Ulitmate Hitchhikers Guide (noting not all A/A Lit) but on my list for awhile.
Thanks for the insight I'm adding: An Elegy for Easterly to my wishlist
Also, I would like to share that one of my most favorite stories of today is a very small book entitled: Zenzele a letter for my daughter by J. Nozipo Maraire, a native of Zimbabwe, a wonderful writer, a neurosurgeon and the owner of an art gallery. Ohhhh this little book was soooo very wonderful!!!!!!
Again, I had to close the cover on The Long Song :( and on another note I've once again added Toni Morrison's Paradise (I've been trying to finished it since 1998! :)
I go through a lot of publisher catalogs because of Belletrista and came across this debut collection of stories in the Penguin catalog:
Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self: Stories by Danielle Evans. Due out in hardcover in September. It looked good.
I'll try to remember to post what I find here, but I am focusing mostly on women authors as I look through the catalogs, so I'm apt to miss the guys.
I saw an interesting piece on The NewsHour on PBS on Wednesday, about a book titled The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, which I'm also planning to get soon. This is from the author's Facebook page:
In December 2000, the Baltimore Sun ran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just received a Rhodes Scholarship. The same paper also ran a series of articles about four young men who had allegedly killed a police officer in a spectacularly botched armed robbery. The police were still hunting for two of the suspects who had gone on the lam, a pair of brothers. One was named Wes Moore.
Wes just couldn’t shake off the unsettling coincidence, or the inkling that the two shared much more than space in the same newspaper. After following the story of the robbery, the manhunt, and the trial to its conclusion, he wrote a letter to the other Wes, now a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His letter tentatively asked the questions that had been haunting him: Who are you? How did this happen?
That letter led to a correspondence and relationship that have lasted for several years. Over dozens of letters and prison visits, Wes discovered that the other Wes had had a life not unlike his own: Both had grown up in similar neighborhoods and had had difficult childhoods, both were fatherless; they’d hung out on similar corners with similar crews, and both had run into trouble with the police. At each stage of their young lives they had come across similar moments of decision, yet their choices would lead them to astonishingly different destinies.
Told in alternating dramatic narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.
This is a link to the NewsHour story, including the video and its transcript:
Author Wes Moore's Book Explores His Own Alternate Reality
I wanted everyone to know I finished Thunderland by Brandon Massey, last week.
I started and finished Step To This by Nikki Carter. Nikki is an upcoming author who specializes in Ya Lit. I believe the young ladies in my classroom will enjoy it. Thoughts about both books are still rattling around in my head. I will try to write a review for both books later on.
Currently I am reading The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers. Surprisingly, I believe this is the first book I read that he authored. I own about 7 of his novels.
Would love to know what everyone is reading this week!
I attended an event featuring Linda Beatrice Brown who's an author & Professor at Bennett College. I missed her reading presentation but met her in the bookstore's cafe. I apologized for missing her reading and asked if she would be so kind as to give me a two sentence summary of her book, she smiled and laughed a little bit and touch my shoulder to sit down with her for awhile. We exchanged our personal contact info and I came away with a signed copy of her new book: Black Angels (new to my summer read).
Nikki Giovanni says of Black Angels that it "needs a cup of hot cinnamon tea, a blanket across our knees and a bit of time to go on a marelvous journey......"
I've got the tea and a cozy blanket. I'll share my thoughts later.
I've posted more than once that Octavia Butler is one of my favorites, so thank you, goddesspt2, for the sci fi recommendations and the info on afrofuturism! Very cool site. Can't wait till the update is complete.
I'm going through a fair number of publisher catalogs at the moment, will try to remember to post anything I see that might interest readers here.
I am dropping to say that I completed The Glory Field by Walter Dean Myers last week. I am pondering the next read. I have been toying with Pharoah's Daughter by Julius Lester. I have read the first page but I haven't committed myself yet! :) This novel has been siiting on the self for about 2 years. The Last book I read by Julius Lester was And All Our Wounds Forgiven. It was a fictional account of a civil rights leader's personal life. I could not put that novel down until it was finished.
Until Next Time!!
I also read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot about an African American woman who had cervical cancer and her cancerous cells have been used in medical research without the knowledge or approval of her family; so the book in addition to exploring the medical ethics of this also focuses on how this has affected her family. Fascinating and well written book. I did catch an interview the author on C-Span's BookTV.
One other book I read was the speculative fiction American Gods by Neil Gaiman for the One Book One Twitter project. Currently, I'm enjoying The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and just cracked open The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman.
I have also read that Oprah and Alan Ball (True Blood) will be bringing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to HBO. I'm hoping they will do justice to the book.
I finished reading Half a Yellow Sun by Adichie which was set during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. I really enjoyed the book even more than Purple Hibiscus. I'm also finished a re-read of a book by Ishmael Reed called The Terrible Twos and I'm currently reading his Airing Dirty Laundry, a book of political essays.
Myself, slowed my reading pace, being distracted by downsizing things in my home -- I'm determined to complete Paradise by Toni Morrison first! A must, a must!
I wish I could offer an opinion. I am in a reading lull. I can't seem to finish a book. I started five. I read your post and I thought this is the beginning of a good review. I have noted other books you have read for future reads. Let me know when you startParable of the Sower and Blood Colony so we can sychronize our reading. :)
My House by Nikki Giovanni: her fourth(?) collection of poems
News from Home by Sefi Atta: A very good collection of short stories by this Nigerian author; my review will appear in the upcoming issue of Belletrista.
Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote by Ahmadou Kourouma: A satirical novel about a fictional African dictator, which didn't live up to its promising beginning.
Next month I'll read The Little Peul by the Guinean author Mariama Barry for Belletrista. I'll also start reading Three Days Before the Shooting... by Ralph Ellison in July; it's over 1100 pages of small print, so I'll probably be working on that for two or three months. I also want to read Derek Walcott's newest collection of poems, White Egrets, and I'll definitely read The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini, which won this year's Orange Award for New Writers.
So, with this in mind, a couple of questions for the group.
1. What sources do you use to learn about new books by AfrAm writers? (e.g., Mosaic magazine) I'm especially interested in authors that are flying under the radar that are writing substantial novels about the AfrAm experience in late 20th and 21st century America.
2. Are there any novels by AfrAm writers (outside of science fiction, fantasy, urban novels and chick lit) that you would recommend?
I'll try to remember to post reviews of any books of interest I purchase or hear about. Thanks in advance!
Along these lines, I intend to read one novel every month or two by an African-American author that has been published in the past five years, starting with Them by Nathan McCall, which is set in Atlanta, my current city. I'll go to my local Borders tomorrow to scour the bookshelves, and I'll plan to buy Black Water Rising by Attica Locke, a mystery novel set in Houston that was shortlisted for this year's Orange Prize for Fiction.
You can check out certain imprints like Harper Collins's Armistad Books. "Amistad publishes works by and about people of African descent, on subjects and themes that have significant influence on the intellectual, cultural, and historical perspectives of a world audience."
http://www.harpercollins.com/imprints/index.aspx?imprintid=518006 (right now I see they are featuring Wench by debut author Dolen Perkins-Valdez, reviewed recently—third time's a charm— in Belletrista:-)
Your ??'s to the group requires a bit of research on my part and I'm still searching.
**QBR Quarterly Black Review (I discovered them after attending the Harlem Book Fair held every July and--
I looked in my library and remembered: The Blackbird Papers by Ian Smith, M.D. I recalled that it was a very good read and I was able to chat with Dr. Ian about it.
Back to google.
A few of my favorite African American authors are Bernice McFadden, Tayari Jones and Carleen Brice. Bernice has 12 novels to date, the last being Glorious. Tayari has 2 and Carleen has 2. I think you'll enjoy their works. They also have blogs and always have recommendations of aother authors of color. Another blog I visit daily is Reads4pleasure.com she reviews books daily and gives good recommendations as well.
@74 Thanks for the AA author recommendations. I've never heard of any of them.
I note quite a few Octavia Butler mentions. I've never read her but I think I own Fledgling; I must add it to my TBR stack.
I think I've tried to read two books by Zadie Smith and to my chagrin I can't get beyond the first four or five pages of her works. It's been so long since my attempts, I can't remember enough to articulate the impediment. (And I'm one of those people who very rarely gives up on a book. I've read some pure drivel in my life!) So to all the Zadie Smith fans out there: If I commit myself to read one novel by Zadie Smith in my lifetime, which one should it be?
I'm enjoying all the comments and discussions in this thread.
@ Shevi, I listened to The Untelling by Tayari Jones a few years ago and I was screaming inside for Aria to make better choices!
I recommend The Known World by Edward P. Jones. It won the Pulitzer about 4 years ago and is a fictional account of black slave owners in Virginia. The first time I tried to read it, I was bored, but the second time I picked it up, I was totally engrossed.
It has been awhile since my last post. I have enjoyed reading Blood Colony and discussing it with Bohemiangirl35.
We must do it again!
I wrapped up Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. It invoked a range of emotions. I was hoping for a better ending. Did anyone notice the cover on her book is the same cover for Tempt Me At Twilight by Lisa Kleypas?
The two books are extreme opposites!!!!!
I read some chick lit. Up To No Good by Carl Weber. It started out great but the climax was flat. I give him credit for an alternative ending.
I am currently reading Life is Wide But Short by J. California Cooper, I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else is reading.
Glorious by Bernice L. McFadden
This is about a fictitious woman who becomes an almost celebrated writer during the Harlem Renaissance and her journey from rural Georgia to NY and back. Highly recommended.
Moonshine by Alaya Dawn Johnson
It's paranormal romance. She's a black author but in this particular story, the characters are not. Yet, the story makes implications on race/ethnicity. Recommended.
His Own where by June Jordan
This was recently reissued by the Feminist Press CUNY. It uses non-standard English which was controversial when it was originally published in 1971. I found Jordan's use of language the life of this young adult romance. Highly recommended.
Color Blind: A Memoir by Precious Williams
My virtual book tour company just completed a tour for this book. I think it's a great look at mothers and daughters and self-identification when it comes to race. Highly recommended.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin
This story of modern day polygamy in Nigeria might be my favorite read so far for 2010. And the author is a darling. Highly Recommended.
No Sweetness Here by Ama Ata Aidoo
This is a nice collection of short stories set in post-colonial Ghana that emphasize the westernization occurring in that society. Recommended.
I'm starting soon Address: House of Corrections by Monice Mitchell Simms
My next read will be The Little Peul by Mariama Barry, which I'll review for the upcoming issue of Belletrista.
I wrapped up the Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass byFrederick Douglass. It was insightful and show in extreme detail the cruelty of slavery.
I also read a fast-paced YA. novel called Pemba's Song , it reminded me of Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. It is about a paranormal friendship between Pemba and Phllys.
Pemba helps unraveled the mystery of the slave girl's disappearance.
Both were fast reads and given 4 stars!!!!
I recall having similar challenges with both. Suggestion: maybe reading some of the reviews will help you along. Kindred, Wild Seed (still very much alive in my thoughts-- planning a revisit) and Fledgling were my best reads of Ms. Butlers.
I had to close Paradise by Toni -- I just can't feel it -- can't get into it and I've tried since 1998! Peace
I just finished The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips and I highly recommend it. It is not an easy read because there is a lot of violence. The mother of 10 children (by 10 different fathers) is mentally ill and sadistic and raising the children alone. The story is about Tangy Mae's coming of age (sort of), the fight she goes through to stay in school (her mother wants her to drop out and work), the siblings' struggle to grow into independent adults, and the town's drama as blacks demand equal rights. Lizze Cooper does an excellent job with narration if you listen to the audio version.
I finally finished Parable of the Talents as well. So, so, so disappointed. :( It's the first Octavia Butler novel that I haven't liked. :(
I actually posted a review of Edidare here :
I've been reading a lot nominees from this and previous years Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. So far for this year's nominees, I have finished:
Big Machine by Victor LaValle (I saw a lot of critical acclaim for this book across the 'net and newspaper literary sites)
Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo (alternate history/satire about slavery)
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (a Texan mystery which was also nominated for the Orange Prize).
The Trial of Robert Mugabe by Chielo Zona Eze (kidzdoc I agree with your rating (3 stars) and review of this book)
The full list of this year's nominees for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry can be viewed here:
I'm planning to read Haki's book of collected poems after I finish up with Casanegra by Blair Underwood.
goddesspt2, were the first three books worth reading? I see you and kidzdoc gave the fourth one three stars. Wrapped in Rainbows sounds refreshing! *said with a British accent.*
I'm glad I finished the first story, Mr. Johnson's Watch. Even though the three stories in Foreigners are all about displaced black men, the point of the first one was that the main character really was an ignorant ass. He represented what elite white society thought about that rare, childlike, unteachable creature - the Negro! Now, now, everyone must know their place and well-meaning whites should not treat people in a way that's above their station or it will just make everyone uncomfortable...and although he tsk tsked and shook his head at other whites who did not do their duty to aid a family hit with the hardest of times, the most he offered was to give the family an item that rightfully belonged to them in the first place! Look in a friggin' mirror sometime!
Speaking of racial stereotypes...I just turned on the t.v. and Deathwish II is on. Charles Bronson is shooting up a bunch of Black men who want to rape a white teenage girl and then carjack a white couple. Have we come so far? (SN: Why is the Lawrence Fishbourne gang character wearing pink glasses? Was that ever cool? Did gang bangers wear pink shades in the 80s?)
The Tempest Tales was a quick, easy read. Tempest Landry, shot dead by the police in a case of mistaken identity, refuses St. Peter's attempt to send him to hell. He's sent back to Earth with an angel to get him to see his sinning ways and admit that he should go to hell. Tempest gives the angel and the devil a run for their money. The concept is great, and this could have been a pretty deep novel. However, Mosley treats the subject lightly, but it works. Would love to see something more in-depth, though.
One more comment: I just picked up Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority from the library. Can't wait to read it!
I'm most of the way through Brainwashed and it's pretty good. I think it's written more for people who don't read a lot. There's a subheading every two or three paragraphs and that's distracting to me, but I can see how it would give a non-reader a sense of accomplishment to read a few sections at a time. The ideas are pretty common sense, but it's nice to see them written down and spelled out in a way that's easy to understand. Now, if only the majority of us would not only agree with the ideas, but come up with ways to counteract the effects.
Fiction: I Am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett
Nonfiction: Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin Kelley
Poetry (tie): Sonata Mulattica by Rita Dove, and Liberation Narratives: New and Collected Poems by Haki R. Madhubuti
I've read I Am Not Sidney Poitier last year and Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original this year, and would highly recommend both books. I own Sonata Mulattica, but haven't read it yet, and I'll add Liberation Narratives: New and Collected Poems to my wish list.
White forwarded the letter to the NAACP’s weekly magazine (The Crisis) where the editor (W.E.B. Du Bois) felt the question and its response deserved a public forum that would further reinforce the importance of Negro intellectual pursuits, even during dire economic times. The list of approximately 60 books appeared in the magazine in early 1931.
Du Bois’s booklist included books explicitly about the black race, but not every book had been written by a black author. He felt reading should be far-ranging, and include all the volumes of series, like "The Modern Library," and his personal relationships with some of his contemporaries (male and female) further influenced which books made the final printed list. The list is too long to print here, and often is not very specific and states “all the books” or “all the poems” by an author.
I loved reading it, though. I smiled when I spotted a book I had read, and broke out in a grin when I could check off one I have already read. Lastly, I identified with the list because of what motivates me to collect books and I am further motivated to fill in some of the gaps in my library using this list. I’ve committed to a personal Reading Challenge that will include being able to say (one day) I have read them all.
Oh, when will I find the time??!!! Do you have a specific vision for your library?
I don't like the weaselly description of the award as "to published writers of African descent." We are all of African descent if the scientists are to be believed. I can argue that I am not an African American fairly lucidly, but not that I am not of African descent. I call myself an American and feel that that is what I am, American Indians notwithstanding, but the ancestry of most African Americans runs far longer in America than my ancestry. I think that it is a matter that should be spoken of carefully. Pardon me; go on with your day.
I recently read a biography of Black bibliophile Arthur Schomburg; his collection became the basis of Harlem's Schomburg library of the NY Public Library system. I also want to pick up the actual catalog listing of Charles Blockson's collection Catalogue of the Charles L. Blockson which is at Temple University.
I do carry the alphabetized Hurston/Wright list with me on my iPhone and check for the books on the list when I'm at a bookstore. I picked up the 2 literary books from Amazon because I knew I wasn't going to run across them in a bookstore (used or otherwise) anytime soon.
As far as my library, significant portions focus on books by Black writers from the African disapora. While the fiction is cataloged in this one huge area, I would like to go back and to a bit of sub-dividing (i.e., Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts/Aesthetic Movement, the African Writers Series, the Caribbean Writers Series, Schomburg Library of 19th Century Women Writers). I do have a separate section in my Science Fiction area for Afrofuturism literature (again speculative fiction books -- sci-fi, fantasy, horror by Black writers of the African Diaspora). This is top on my list when I'm out bookshopping. I also have a separate African American studies section. I also collect biographies by Black writers, though I have not separated them out from all biographies. If I were to do that, I would also separate out US President biographies and scientific and literary biographies, as I have a nice concentration of those. I also have 2 sets of Negro/Black encyclopedias (1 complete - Africana; the other I'm still working to complete 7 of 10 so far - International Library of Negro Life and History)
I don't know if I will physically do all these sub-divisions since I can easily find what I need and use tags and other cataloging techniques to know where everything is.
There is also the Frederick Douglass Book Prize at Yale another award is the American Book Award that focuses on diversity in American writing. There is a bookstore in Raleigh that devotes a section of the store to Award and Prize books (Booker, Pulitzer, etc.) but these 3 prizes I mentioned are not focused on.
I definitely echo your sentiment "where do I find the time." I'm just looking forward to retirement.
Mr. Durick, I'm hoping to read the Monk book by the end of November.
Touchstones can be kinda quirky though if you try to do too many in a post.
What about Measuring Time? I haven't read it, yet, but it's on my wishlist and available at my library. :)
I have not read Child of God... just read the summary and found that it definitely has a good story line! How did you like the book? How many stars would you give it?
Bohemiangirl thank you for posting that book! I just added it to my TBR list and Friday Finds post! This book is very intriguing! Love the story line. I have personal connection to it because my husband is from Monrovia Liberia. He was there during the first civil war in 1989. We have had many discussions about Charles Taylor. I look forward to reading it!
Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for this work and I think it was much deserved.
I was watching The National Book Festival, too! I had been wondering why both LT and Amazon.com continue to recommend her book to me.
My birthday was last week and someone gave me a gift card from Barnes & Noble. I haven't been in a mega book store in ages!..but, I'm planning to spend it on Warmth of Other Suns tomorrow.
In listening to Wilkerson speak of her research, I realized my family has been a part of the great migration she spoke of. Both sets of grandparents were drawn north from Alabama to Omaha, Nebraska around 1924. And, then my immediate family shifted from Nebraska to California in 1960. I've moved a lot in my life, too. I've gotta stop....Moving my books around has become too cumbersome! :)
I looovvve McFadden, but this latest one is not my favorite of her books. The first chapter left me breathless and amazed, but the remaining part of the book was disappointing. I'd be interested in your opinion should you read it!
Hmm...I've read and reviewed several fiction and nonfiction books by authors of African descent since my last message here. I'll start posting these reviews later today.
BTW, if any of you are in or near Brooklyn, I would highly encourage you to see Caryl Phillips at the Brooklyn Book Festival this afternoon. He was born in St Kitts in 1958, moved to the UK with his parents that same year, and has been living in New York and London for the past dozen years or so. He has written several fabulous novels and nonfiction collections about his experiences as a black Briton, the African diaspora, and race and identity, including his latest book Color Me English: Thoughts About Migrations and Belonging Before and After 9/11, which I read last week and absolutely loved.
Just one small correction to your post....Isabel Wilkerson was not awarded the Pulitzer for this book. She was presented the Pulitzer in 1994 for her work in Journalism.
Since she said she was working on Warmth of Other Suns for 15 years, it was probably in the early stages of research at that time. Her Pulitzer was recognition of her talent. The excitement over this book means we can confidently look forward to more of her writing.
I'm reading: Sister Citizen by Melissa V. Harris-Perry. The Acknowledgments & Introduction is soooo good that I closed the book went to the market to buy popping corn before cuddling in my Lily Tomlin Rocking Chair, ops I forgot to melt a lil butter-- I'm ready for Chapter One "Crooked Room".
Too much concentration This is a response to a much earlier post.
Esch Batiste is a 14 year old girl who lives in a rural town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast along with her father Claude and her three brothers, Randall, Skeetah and Junior, who was named for his father after his mother died soon after giving birth to him. The kids are mainly left to fend for themselves, subsisting on Ramen noodles, bologna and the hidden chicken eggs they gather, as their father often drunk, hostile and emotionally distant from them. Each of them has a main focus, which serves as an escape from poverty and hopelessness: Randall seeks a college scholarship to play basketball; Skeetah owns a mother pit bull named China, whose puppies he plans to raise and sell for dogfighting; Esch is obsessed with Manny, a boy who desires her sexually but does not love her; and Junior, the youngest, tirelessly seeks the attention of his siblings, mainly by annoying the heck out of them.
It is the summer of 2005, the middle of the Atlantic hurricane season, and a storm named Katrina slowly gathers strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Claude obsessively follows news reports the path of the hurricane, but his pleas to his children to make preparations for this storm mainly fall on deaf ears, as they are distracted by their own hopes and desires, and doubt that this storm will be any different than any of the other ones they and previous generations of Batistes have lived through. Claude decides that they should ride out the storm, despite the mandatory evacuation warning, a decision they will all regret once Katrina makes landfall.
Esch, the precocious and sensitive narrator of this story, identifies herself with Medea, the wife of the Greek mythic hero Medea, and with Skeetah's dog China, who is tender toward her owner and her pups, but fights ferociously and relentlessly against anyone who opposes her.
Salvage the Bones is an unblinking and unforgettable coming of age novel about the despair of the lives of an impoverished rural family in the Deep South, whose disparate members are often at odds with each other, yet their fierce devotion to each other binds them together in moments of crisis. This novel may not be appropriate for some readers, due to its vivid description of dogfighting, but I would highly recommend it to everyone else.
A poem from the Harlem Renaissance:
What is Africa to me;
Copper sun or scarlet sea,
Jungle star or jungle track,
Strong bronzed men, or regal black
Women from whose loins I sprang
When the birds of Eden sang?
One four centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree
What is Africa to me?
So I lie, who all day long
Want no sound except the song
Sung by wild barbaric birds
Goading massive jungle herds,
Juggernauts of flesh that pass
Trampling tall defiant grass
Where young forest lovers lie.
Plighting troth beneath the sky.
So I lie, who always hear,
Though I cram against my ear
Both my thumbs, and keep them there,
Great drums throbbing through the air.
So I lie, whose fount of pride,
Dear distress, and joy allied,
Is my somber flesh and skin,
With the dark blood dammed within
Like great pulsing tides of wine
That, I fear, must burst the fine
Channels of the chafing net
Where they surge and foam and fret.
A book one thumbs
Listlessly, till slumber comes.
Unremembered are her bats
Circling through the night, her cats
Crouching in the river reeds,
Stalking gentle flesh that feeds
By the river brink; no more
Does the bugle-throated roar
Cry that monarch claws have leapt
From the scabbards where they slept.
Silver snakes that once a year
Doff' the lovely coats you wear,
Seek no covert in your fear
Lest a mortal eye should see;
'What's your nakedness to me?
Here no leprous flowers rear
Fierce corollas in the air;
Here no bodies sleek and wet,
Dripping mingled rain and sweat,
Tread the savage measures of
Jungle boys and girls in love.
What is last year's snow to me,
Last year's anything?
Budding yearly must forget
How its past arose or set-
Bough and blossom, flower, fruit,
Even what shy bird with mute
Wonder at her travail there,
Meekly labored in its hair.
One four centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree
What is Africa to me?
So I lie, who find no peace
Night or day, no slight release
From the unremittant beat
Made by cruel padded feet
Walking through my body's street.
Up and down they go, and back,
Treading out a jungle track.
So I lie,
who never quite
Safely sleep from rain at night
I can never rest at all
When the rain begins to fall;
Like a soul gone mad with pain
I must match its weird refrain;
Ever must I twist and squirm,
Writhing like a baited worm,
While its primal measures drip
Through my body, crying, "Strip!
Doff this new exuberance.
Come and dance the Lover's Dance!"
In an old remembered way
Rain works on me night and day.
Quaint, outlandish heathen gods
Black men fashion out of rods,
and brittle bits of stone,
In a likeness like their own,
My conversion came high-priced;
I belong to Jesus Christ,
Preacher of humility;
Heathen gods are naught to me.
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
So I make an idle boast;
Jesus of the twice-turned check,
Lamb of God, although I speak
With my mouth thus, in my heart
Do I play a double part.
Ever at Thy glowing altar
Must my heart grow sick and falter,
Wishing He I served were black,
Thinking then it would not lack
Precedent of pain to guide it,
Let who would or might deride it;
Surely then this flesh would know
Yours had borne a kindred woe.
I fashion dark gods, too,
Daring even to give You
Dark despairing features where,
Crowned with dark rebellious hair,
Patience wavers just so much as
Mortal grief compels, while touches
Quick and hot, of anger, rise
To smitten cheek and weary eyes.
forgive me if my need
Sometimes shapes a human creed,
All day long, and all night through
One thing only must I do:
Quench my pride and cool my blood,
Lest I perish in the flood.
Lest a hidden ember set
Timber that I thought was wet
Burning like the dryest flax,
Melting like the merest wax,
Lest the grave restore its dead
Not yet has my heart or head
In the least way realized
They and I are civilized.
Heritage -1925-Countee Cullen
In fiction I definitely want to read James Baldwin and Richard Wright, two authors I’ve long ignored. I have both Another Country and Native Son on my shelves. I love Ernest Gaines and still have one of his short stories on my shelves, so I’ll try to figure out a way to fit that in.
In non-fiction, the ones calling my name are: At Canaan’s Edge, The Black History of the White House, and Carry Me Home. It seems to me that I’ll have to read At Canaan’s Edge first and then Carry Me Home, because how can you read about the Civil Rights Movement without reading about the man who most carried it forward. I have lots of others to choose from as well, but can’t imagine I’ll be able to fit them in.
The Warmth of Other Suns is definitely a book I want to read, but with a towering Mt. TBR of excellent books to read on the subject already I decided to wait for it to show up at my local Friends of the Library where I will pay only $2 or $3 for it.
“The passage of the Red Sea and the destruction of those who follow the fugitives are also found in a Hottentot fable. Heitsi-Eibib was once travelling with a great number of his people, when they were pursued by the enemy. On arriving at the water which had to be crossed as the only way of escape, the leader said, " My grandfather's father! open thyself that I may pass through, and close thyself afterwards." So it took place as he had said, and they crossed the water safely. Then the pursuing enemy tried to pass through the opening likewise, but when they were in the midst of the divided water it closed upon them and they perished. Bleek, Hottentot Fables, p. 75.)”
Bleek himself would write:
"You are aware that the existence of Fables among the Hottentots was already known to us through Sir James Alexander's " Expedition of Discovery into the Interior of Africa (8vo., two vols., London, 1838), and that some interesting specimens of their literature had been given by him in that work ; but that Fables form so extensive a mass of traditionary Native literature amongst the Namaqua, has first been brought to light by Mr. Kronlein's communications. The fact of such a literary capacity existing among a nation whose mental qualifications it has
been usual to estimate at the lowest standard, is of the greatest importance ; and that their literary activity (in contradistinction to the general character of Native literature among Negro nations) has been employed almost in the same direction as that which had been taken by our own earliest literature, is in itself of great significance.
Some questions of no trifling importance and interest are raised by the appearance of such an unlooked-for mine of literary lore, particularly as to the originality of these Fables. Whether they are indeed the real offspring of the desert, and can be considered as truly indigenous Native literature, or whether they have been either purloined from the superior white race, or at least brought into existence by the stimulus which contact with the latter gave to the Native mind (like that resulting in the invention of the Tshiroki and Vei alphabets) may be matters of dispute for some time to come, and it may require as much research as was expended upon the solving of the riddle of the originality of the Ossianic poems.
But whatever may be the ultimate result of such inquiries, whether it will confirm our idea of the originality and antiquity of the main portion of these Hottentot Fables, and consequently stamp them with the character of the oldest and most primitive literary remains of the old mother tongue of the Sexdenoting
nations, or whether they have only sprung up recently among the Hottentots from foreign seed and in either case the disposition of the Hottentots to the enjoyment of such Fables, and their easy growth on this arid soil, be it their native or adopted one it shows a much greater congeniality between the Hottentot and European mind than we find between the latter and any of the black races of Africa.
This similarity in the disposition of nations can in itself indeed hardly be considered as a valid proof of common ancestry ; but if there be other grounds to make us believe that the nations in question, or at least their languages, are of common origin, it may render us more inclined to assume that such a similarity in their literary taste is derived also from the same source.
The great ethnological difference between the Hottentots and the black nations of South Africa has been a marked fact from almost the earliest acquaintance of Europeans with these parts, and occasional stray guesses (for example, in R. Moffat's " Missionary Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa," 1842, p. 6), have already for some time pointed to a North African origin for the Hottentots.”
This information may add something to the well known back-story of the Hottentot Venus ;)
Sharpe, Samuel (2010-09-28). Egyptian Mythology and Egyptian Christianity (Kindle Locations 1117-1122). . Kindle Edition.