2017 New Releases to Anticipate!

Happy New Year, everyone!

What books are you excited to read this year? Below are some (this is just a snippet of books 2017 has to offer!) new African, African-American and Caribbean novels that look very promising.

Please click on the images to read the blurbs and/or to purchase the books.

(this post contains Amazon affiliate links)

Other books to look out for:

What new releases are you excited about? Please do share!

2016 Christmas Wish List

Hey everyone!

Christmas is right around the corner! I honestly have no business buying any new books, anytime soon. But a simple wish list won’t hurt would it? Below are books I’d love Santa to drop into my imaginary Christmas stockings (not in order of preference; click titles to read the blurbs on Goodreads):

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy has been on my TBR for a while. It actually got bumped up my list after Flournoy was shortlisted for the National Book Prize last year + some of my friends highly recommend this novel. I hear there are similarities between The Turner House and Ayana Mathis’s The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, which I LOVED (and reviewed).


The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu is a book I’m very keen to read. I haven’t read anything by Mengestu but I’ve seen many reviews of his books – especially his 2014 novel, All Our Names on several book blogs. I’m eager to read about the immigrant experience in the U.S through an Ethiopian lens in this book!


Birth of a Dream Weaver: A Memoir of a Writer’s Awakening by Ngūgī wa Thiong’o was released late October of this year. I found out about this book from highlights of the 2016 Aké Arts and Books Festival and was surprised this book existed, as I didn’t even know Ngūgī wa Thiong’o was actively writing a new memoir! I deeply enjoy anything Thiong’o writes, so this would be a great addition to my already growing Ngūgī wa Thiong’o collection.


Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has been on my TBR for a looong time. I love, love, love The Roots (hip hop group) and for those who don’t know, Questlove is the drummer and one of the leaders of the group (the other leader is rapper – Black Thought). My life was semi-complete when The Roots came to Middlebury back in 2009 and I admired Questlove’s finesse with the drums! He came out with another book this year – Something to Food About: Exploring Creativity with Innovative Chefs. But I hope to read Mo’ Meta Blues first!


Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds by Yemisi Aribisala was published back in November (2016) by Cassava Republic. I have been waiting for a book like this for a while! If you’ve read my review of Pig Tails ‘n Breadfruit: A Culinary Memoir by Barbadian writer Austin Clarke (RIP), I spoke on my desire to read more books that highlight African food. Longthroat Memoirs showcases Nigerian cuisine while discussing various feminist issues. I need this book.


My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal has the best book cover! From what I hear, My Name is Leon is a story about 9 year old Leon – who is biracial and his new baby brother Jake – who is white. Once their mother is deemed unfit to care for them, they are taken into the foster care system. When Leon’s baby brother is adopted before he is, readers see Leon face various prejudices, while trying to save his broken family. I’m ready to have all the feels reading this book.


You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have To Explain by Phoebe Robinson looks like it’d be a great book to get anyone out of a reading slump. Every once in a while I like to let loose and read something humorous and light. The author, Phoebe Robinson – is a comedian and hosts a podcast with Jessica Williams called 2 Dope Queens. I’ve given their fun podcast a couple of listens and even downloaded a sample of this book on Kindle. All I can say is, I know I’ll be entertained by this book!


What books are on your Christmas wish list? Please share some titles!🙂

Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas, everyone!

LIT Links mélange

Hey everyone!

Here are links to some great resources, literature finds and gems I’ve been loving and just had to share. Enjoy!

Thanks to my 2016 Reading Goals, I’ve been slacking on my Carib reads this year – but that will be rectified very soon! The annual Bocas Lit Fest – Trinidad and Tobago’s Literary Festival took place about a week ago and some great Caribbean writers received prizes for their awesome works. The OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature is a major award for literary books by Caribbean writers. Books are classified in three categories: poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction. Below are the book covers of the works that made the OCM Bocas Prize Shortlist:

2016-ocm-bocas-prize-shortlist-covers

The winner of the 2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature was announced last weekend to be Jamaican writer, Olive Senior for her collection, The Pain Tree! Olive Senior has been on my TBR for a while and this win just reminded me to bump her up my TBR list. As one of the pioneer Caribbean writers, in my opinion I don’t think Olive Senior gets enough shine for her contribution to Caribbean Literature. Below is a showcase of some of her work from 1987 to present day:

Add Olive Senior to your TBR, maybe?

  • Self-published short stories collection: Flight

Fellow book blogger – Stephanie, of Steph Hearts Books (check out her blog!) published a collection of short stories called Flight back in December (2015) on Tumblr. From her blog, she describes the collection – ‘Flight is a multimedia collection of short stories that uses photo, film, and written text to explore themes of escapism for black women. The collection features 4 short stories, films, and photosets’.

I finally just finished reading the collection and I’m really impressed! The first story entitled ‘Thelma’ (which actually ties in well with present day police brutality in the U.S and the constant fear black mothers face for their sons) will reel you in to reading the rest of the stories in this great collection. Stephanie is a talented writer and a lot of emotions are accurately expressed in these stories! Please do check out Flight and share the collection with your friends once you finish reading! Stephanie is also a contributor for Blavity and I enjoy the content she produces there as well.

  • How Not To Talk About African Fiction by Ainehi Edoro

Ainehi Edoro of Brittle Paper wrote an important essay that was published in The Guardian, entitled How Not To Talk About African Fiction. The title of the essay reminded on me of Binyavanga Wainaina‘s satirical essay (2005) – How To Write About Africa which I thoroughly enjoyed in an Anthropology class I took junior year in college (2010/2011) – shoutout to Prof. Sheridan! Anyways, with regards to Ainehi Edoro’s essay – I wholeheartedly agree with everything that’s said. African fiction deserves to be seen as literary work of art instead of solely being appreciated for its ‘anthropological value’. It’s unfair to market African fiction around the social/political issues they address because there’s so much more to these stories that go unseen from how they are described by publishers and even reviewers of African fiction. I think book bloggers and reviewers should try and rectify this issue by adequately portraying the layered complexities of African fiction. What do you all think?

  • Big Belly Ache

Big Belly Ache is captivating artwork I discovered on Instagram months ago by New York based illustrator and writer, Elaine Musiwa. She showcases her work at @bigbellyache where she boldly portrays images that represent varied black women experiences. I enjoyed a conversation Elaine Musiwa had with LAMBB (Look At My Black Beauty)here. Key quotes I got from this interview were:

“The name Big Belly Ache came out of this idea; tackling the topics that are hard to stomach or admit. When I was growing up it took a long time for me to embrace having bold features like a wide nose, large lips, puffy hair, thick thighs, a large ass; all the things that were part of my genetics. This statement art is representative of my progress in self-acceptance”

“Words often leave a need for translation but the beauty of images is that they can be understood worldwide” (Yesss!)

“I hope my images are inspiring young black girls to tell their stories and support each other. As black women, one of our biggest challenges has always been to encourage each other and find our voices in mainstream dialogue”

(quotes taken from Elaine Musiwa’s insightful interview with LAMBB (Look At My Black Beauty)

Below are my favorite illustrations from Big Belly Ache. Enjoy!

Images via bigbellyache.com

  • More Short Stories!

Have y’all been keeping up with AFREADA? There are some really talented writers from the continent and in the diaspora who have been sending in brilliant stories which I have been enjoying! Some stories I really, really love are: The Disappearance of Self by Zainab Omaki (Nigeria), A House in the Sky by Mirette Bahgat (Egypt) and My Father’s Shadow by Kariuki WaKimuyu (Kenya). There are also photo-stories as well as book reviews (by yours truly) on AFREADA‘s website. Head on over there and indulge in great short fiction 🙂

Let me know which of these LIT links intrigued you the most and please share some interesting links you’ve been loving as well! 

Winner of the book GIVEAWAY!

Hey everyone!

The book giveaway has officially ended and it is time to announce the winner. There was a total of 104 entries! Thank you to everyone who participated and told their friends/loved ones about the book giveaway. I appreciated the encouraging feedback and the impressive number of people who avidly participated!

As the Terms & Conditions of this book giveaway state, a winner will be selected by Random.org, through Rafflecopter.

…..and the lucky winner of African Love Stories: An Anthology is: Nikita Lithur!

IMG_3007

You can purchase African Love Stories: An Anthology on Amazon

I hope February is treating everyone well so far. Don’t forget, its Black History Month! Feast your eyes on a book covers showcase I created last year, which features awesome African-American novels. You might spot some new finds in the showcase; Check ’em out -> HERE

Thank you once again to everyone who participated in the giveaway. If you didn’t win, don’t worry! One of my goals for 2016 is to give back, so please stay tuned for more giveaways this year! 🙂

2016 New Releases to Anticipate!

2015 was a great year for African and Black Literature. 2016 promises to be pretty amazing too! Some great books have already been released (late 2015) – like Sweet Medicine by Panashe Chigumadzi, The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela, Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta just to name a few.

Check out the blurbs of some African, Black (African-American) and Caribbean novels I’m exited for:

(this post contains some Amazon affiliate links)

Jowhor IleAnd After Many Days by Jowhor Ile

Release Date: February 16th 2016

An unforgettable debut novel about a boy who goes missing, a family that is torn apart, and a nation on the brink.

During the rainy season of 1995, in the bustling town of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, one family’s life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of seventeen-year-old Paul Utu, beloved brother and son. As they grapple with the sudden loss of their darling boy…

…read more

 

In the meantime, enjoy one of Ile’s short stories here: “Somewhere Between The Borders: Supersonic Bus”


OyeymiWhat is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

Release Date: March 8th 2016

From the award-winning author of Boy, Snow, Bird and Mr. Fox comes an enchanting collection of intertwined stories.
 
Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical…

…read more 

 

 


We Are All BlueWe Are All Blue by Donald Molosi

Release Date: January 2016

We Are All Blue (Botswana) is a collection of two plays – Motswana: Africa, Dream Again and Blue, Black and White – by the actor and playwright Donald Molosi, including an introduction by Quett Masire, former president of Botswana…

…read more

 

 

 


DanticatA Walk Through Carnival by Edwidge Danticat

Release Date: January 26th 2016

Growing up in Haiti, Edwidge Danticat kept well clear of carnival—terrified by the stories of danger and debauchery that her uncle told her. Decades later, a grown woman and accomplished author, she returns home to find out what she’s been missing…

…read more

 

 

 


 

AffluenzaAffluenza by Niq Mhlongo

Release Date: March 20th 2016

Niq Mhlongo returns with a collection of short stories that cover the span of our democracy – the euphoria of 1994, the AIDS pandemic, xenophobia, the madness of Marikana and the Zuma presidency. The stories have been published to critical acclaim in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the USA but remain largely unknown in South Africa. Affluenza offers us a chance to savour Niq Mhlongo’s take on the madness of the last twenty years…

…read more

 


Kiini SalaamWhen the World Wounds by Kiini Salaam

Release Date: August 9th 2016

Writing of the “other,” Kiini Ibura Salaam honed her perspective from growing up in an activist family eschewing TV, sugar, meat, convention, while centralizing self-worth, intellectual rigor, and the value, importance, and rights of black folk…

…read more

 

 

 


Here Comes the SunHere Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Release Date: July 19th 2016

In this radiant, highly anticipated debut, a cast of unforgettable women battle for independence while a maelstrom of change threatens their Jamaican village.

Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis- Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas. At an opulent resort in Montego Bay, Margot hustles to send her younger sister, Thandi, to school…

…read more

 


born-on-a-tuesdayBorn on a Tuesday by Elnathan John

Release Date: May 3rd 2016 (this has already been released by Cassava Republic Press, late 2015)

From two-time Caine Prize finalist Elnathan John, a dynamic young voice from Nigeria, Born on a Tuesday is a stirring, starkly rendered first novel about a young boy struggling to find his place in a society that is fracturing along religious and political lines.

In far northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree…

…read more

 

In the meantime, check out Elnathan’s satirical blog here: Elnathan’s Dark Corner


Charcoal JoeCharcoal Joe: An Easy Rawling Mystery by Walter Mosley

Release Date: June 14th 2016

Walter Mosley’s indelible detective Easy Rawlins is back, with a new detective agency and a new mystery to solve.

Picking up where Rose Gold left off in L.A. in the late 1960s, Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins finds his life in transition. He’s ready to—finally—propose to his girlfriend, Bonnie Shay, and start a life together…

… read more

 


imbolo mbueBehold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Release Date: August 23rd 2016

For fans of Americanah and The Lowland comes a debut novel about an immigrant couple striving to get ahead as the Great Recession hits home. With profound empathy, keen insight, and sly wit, Imbolo Mbue has written a compulsively readable story about marriage, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream.

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son…

…read more


McMillanI Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

Release Date: June 7th 2016

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale is back with the inspiring story of a woman who shakes things up in her life to find greater meaning

In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young’s wonderful life–great friends, family, and successful career–aren’t enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless…

…read more

 


Kwei QuarteyGold of Our Fathers by Kwei Quartey

Release Date: April 26th 2016

Darko Dawson, Chief Inspector in the Ghana police service, returns in this atmospheric crime series often compared to Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels

Darko Dawson has just been promoted to Chief Inspector in the Ghana Police Service—the promotion even comes with a (rather modest) salary bump…

…read more

 

 


Greenidge_WeLoveYouCharlieFreeman_HC_jkt_FINAL_PRNT.inddWe Love You Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge

Release Date: March 8th 2016

“Kaitlyn Greenidge’s debut novel slips a very skillful knife under the skin of American life. This is a story about family, about language, about history and its profound echoes.” —Colum McCann

Frustrated by the limitations of cross-race communication in her predominantly white town, Laurel, a young African American girl, teaches herself to sign–a skill she later imparts to her two daughters…

…read more


The Shameful StateThe Shameful State by Sony Labou Tansi

Release Date: January 3rd 2016

Set in a fictitious African nation, this novel by the distinguished writer Sony Labou Tansi takes aim at the corruption, degeneracy, violence, and repression of political life in Africa. At the heart of The Shameful State is the story of Colonel Martillimi Lopez, the nation’s president, whose eccentricity and whims epitomize the “shameful situation in which humanity has elected to live.” Lopez stages a series of grotesque and barbaric events while his nation falls apart…

…read more

 


Yaa GyasiHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Release Date: June 7th 2016

A riveting, kaleidoscopic debut novel and the beginning of a major career: a novel about race, history, ancestry, love, and time that traces the descendants of two sisters torn apart in eighteenth-century Africa across three hundred years in Ghana and America.

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different tribal villages in eighteenth-century Ghana…

…read more

 

In the meantime, enjoy a short story (which I loved!) by Gyasi here: “Inscape”


 Jazz Moon by Joe Okonkwo 

Jazz Moon

Release Date: May 31st 2016

In a lyrical, captivating debut set against the backdrop of the Harlem Renaissance and glittering Jazz Age Paris, Joe Okonkwo creates an evocative story of emotional and artistic awakening.

On a sweltering summer night in 1925, beauties in beaded dresses mingle with hepcats in dapper suits on the streets of Harlem. The air is thick with reefer smoke, and jazz pours out of speakeasy doorways. Ben Charles and his devoted wife, Angeline…

…read more

 


 Elizabeth NunezEven in Paradise by Elizabeth Nunez

Release Date: April 5th 2016

Peter Ducksworth, a Trinidadian widower of English ancestry, retires to Barbados, believing he will find an earthly paradise there. He decides to divide his land among his three daughters while he is alive, his intention not unlike that of King Lear’s who hoped, “That future strife / May be prevented now.” But Lear made the fatal mistake of confusing flattery with love, and so does Ducksworth…

…read more

 


 

MogosAmid the Chaos by Nathan H. Mogos

Release Date: January 9th 2016

Some people call Eritrea the “North Korea of Africa.” But to two friends Chenkelo and Misghe, it is home.

In the picturesque capital of Asmara, these two educated young men are forced to choose between poverty and hustle as they hide from a national service conscription that would send them to the front lines…

…read more


  • And finally, watch out for the much anticipated Maya Angelou DOCUMENTARY which will be released at some point this year!

What new releases are you excited about for this year? Please do share!

2015 Recap & My Top 5!

Hey everyone!

I hope the holiday season has been relaxing thus far. 2015 is almost over! I ended up reading 26 books this year (and I turned 26 years old this year too, haha. It’s a coincidence, I promise). The break down of my 2015 reading experience is as follows:

Longest book read: A Deeper Love Inside: The Porsche Santiaga Story by Sister Souljah – 432 pages.

Shortest book read: We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda N. Adichie  – 32 pages.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 9.07.18 PMAfrican literature: 10 books

Caribbean literature: 2 books

African-American/Black literature: 11 books

Other: 3 books (these are non-African diaspora books. I read books written by – Mitch Albom, Lena Dunham, Jhumpa Lahiri)

14 women writers ; 6 men writers 

I read multiple books (two each) by the following authors: Amma Darko, Maya Angelou, Ngūgī wa Thiong’o, Alice Walker, Chinua Achebe and Nayyirah Waheed. 


Top 5 favorite books of 2015

  1. The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
  2. You Can’t Keep a Good Women Down by Alice Walker
  3. The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe
  4. salt. by Nayyirah Waheed
  5. Dreams In a Time of War by Ngūgī wa Thiong’o

These books took a toll on my emotions the most! If you’ve read my reviews for these 5 books, you know exactly why they are my top 5! And didn’t I say The Fishermen would win many awards? So far Obioma’s debut novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (this is a big deal!) alongside other nominations, and won the 2015 Emerging Voices Award. There are probably more awards it’s won that I’m missing out! I’m not surprised by the success of The Fishermen, it is well deserved – #iToldYouSo!

Reviews for all the books read this year are in the Book Reviews section of the book blog. [Some missing reviews (4 of them) will be posted in 2016].


I also attended quite a number of book readings, thanks to Writers Project of Ghana and some invitations I received to attend readings. Below are pictures of my favorite reading events this year:

In my 2014 recap, I mentioned that my favorite book for 2014 was Binyavanga Wainaina’s memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place. I was elated to finally meet him when he came to Accra! Unfortunately, Binyavanga recently suffered from a series of strokes and is receiving medical care in India. I pray he has a speedy recovery, so we can all enjoy his fun-loving spirit soon. Let’s keep him in our prayers!


Finally, this year I joined in a partnership with AFREADA !

AFREADA is an online literary magazine, featuring original stories from emerging writers across the Continent.”

If you write short stories or you love photography, definitely submit your work to AFREADA! And if you are a lover of original, African short stories – visit the website! There are some lovely stories written by talented writers from all over the continent, as well as photo stories AND book reviews by me! Visit http://www.afreada.com, and thank me later. 

It has been a fulfilling year! What were your favorite books of 2015? And what were some of your fave bookish events? Please do share!

I’m truly grateful to everyone who frequents this book blog and for the great discussions (agreements, disagreements and recommendations) we have in the comments section. I also enjoyed commenting on various blogs as well! I really appreciate the support and love shown here from you all. I’m excited for all I have to share in 2016. God bless 🙂

TBR Book Tag!

Hey everyone. The lovely Zezee of book blog Zee With Books tagged me to participate in the TBR (to-be-read) tag. Below are my responses to the questions, enjoy!

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

  • Goodreads has been quite helpful in keeping track of the books on my TBR. But some books on my bookshelf need to be read too. So just the sight of those books remind me of their existence.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

  • PRINT! I prefer physical books. I like to believe I’m building a collection (for the next generation to enjoy as well). Plus, just seeing my (physical) books on the bookshelf makes me proud for some reason! Buying books is an investment and I like to make references to the books from time to time. I have a few e-books, but they usually aren’t books I’m truly passionate about OR they are not available in physical copy yet.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

  • It depends on my mood and what is available to me at the time. Most of the books on my TBR on Goodreads haven’t even been purchased yet and some probably won’t ever be haha. I read whatever my heart/mood desires at the time and pick it off my bookshelf; it is random.

A book that has been on your TBR the longest?

  • I had to choose 4! I finally got a (signed) copy of Fine Boys this summer, as I mentioned in my 2015 Summer Book Haul post. Daughters Who Walk This Path, Baking Cakes in Kigali and No Telephone to Heaven have also been on my TBR for a while! I haven’t purchased any of them yet, so I don’t know when I’ll read them.

 A book you recently added to your TBR? 

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?

  • I chose 4 books. The book cover for Hiding in Plain Sight looks so beautiful in print if you ever see it, I promise! I love the art work for the Ivorian graphic novel series, Aya of Yop City and I hope to purchase the series in the future. The painting of Nnedi Okorafor’s cover for Kabu Kabu is truly a piece of art- look at those strokes! And of course, the sassy covergirl on Naomi Jackson’s The Star Side of Bird Hill cover is everything (and so me)!

 

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?Mema

  • I randomly bought Mema by Daniel Mengara from my local bookstore last year. I thought it would be an interesting read, as the author is from Gabon- a country that’s more or less absent in the African Literature scene. But so far, I’ve found the first few pages of the book to be extremely dry. For all you know, this book will probably be quite amazing if I give it a chance, but I doubt I’ll ever read Mema anytime soon. Sorry, not sorry!

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?

Frantz Fanon

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

How many books are in your Goodreads TBR shelf?

  • I have 97 books in my Goodreads TBR shelf. But on my bookshelf at home, I have about 50 books I haven’t read yet. But who is counting? No pressure here!

This was a cool stress-reliever post for me! Thanks Zezee for including me in on the fun.

I tag:

and whoever else reads this post. Join in on the fun, you might spot new book recommendations!

2015 Summer Book Haul!

IMG_0826Hey everyone! Since May of this year, I have received the bulk of my book orders from the mail and I’d love to share some of them with you. Please click on the title to go read more about the book on Goodreads.

Tendai HuchuThe Maestro, the Magistrate and the Mathematician by Tendai Huchu 

I’ve read the first 15 pages of this and its decent thus far! I love a book on African (in this case, Zimbabwean) immigrant experiences abroad. But the font in the book is small, so reading this might take a while.


Saturday's Shadows Saturday’s Shadows by Ayesha Harruna Attah

I’m glad this book is thick! I can’t wait to enjoy this story which focuses on the Avoka family. Hopefully I’ll read Saturday’s Shadows before the year ends. Recommendation: check out Ayesha’s first novel- Harmattan Rain.

 


 Hiding in Plain Sight by Nuruddin Farah Farah

Hiding in Plain Sight is my first novel from Somalia. Nuruddin Farah has written several books and I hope to read more of his work in the future. The cover art is lovely if you see the physical copy. I love the iridescent details! This is on my 2016 *TBR list.


Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime: stories by J. California Cooper 

J. California Cooper

I’ve heard and read nothing but great things about Ms Cooper. I hope I love her work as much as others do! Hopefully I can add her to my favorite African-American pioneer writers: Gwendolyn Brooks, Lorraine Hansberry, Maya Angelou, Richard Wright and Alice Walker.


 The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma The Fishermen

*sigh* This tale on love, brotherhood and madness has been the best book I’ve read this summer… and maybe all year (expect the book review soon)! Please pick this up if you get the chance. Obioma took fiction to another level with this book.

 

 


 nalo hopkinsonThe Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson

I’m not a huge fan of science-fiction, but Nalo Hopkinson seems pretty amazing from what I’ve read/heard. And her stories feature Afro-Caribbean folk, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this!


Love is Power or Something Like That by A. Igoni Barrett igoni

I enjoy short stories and I look forward to reading this collection by half-Jamaican & half-Nigerian – A. Igoni Barrett. His latest novel, Blackass was released about two weeks ago!


Samuelsson_Yes-Chef_pbYes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

This is a memoir that I’m excited to read! I love Chef Marcus Samuelsson from the Food Network on television and I’d love to read more about his life, especially since he is of Ethiopian heritage. Can’t wait.

 


 

Krik? Krak! by Edgwige Danticat Edwidge Danticat

I recently finished reading this short stories collection and I must say, it was a perfect summer read! Edwidge Danticat, who is well-known in the Caribbean Literature sphere ‘reps’ hard for Haiti – and I love it.


fine boysFine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen 

How cool is the book cover art? I was sooo glad when I finally got my hands on this book! I had been searching for the physical copy since 2013 since it is only available on Kindle (I don’t prefer e-books). So when Imasuen came to Accra last month for a reading hosted by Writers Project Ghana, I  did not hesitate to attend the event, purchase the book and stand in line for it to be signed. #winning!

 


 My Brother by Jamaica Kincaid My Brother Jamaica Kincaid

Well-known Caribbean writer – Kincaid’s work is always a joy to read as she writes with palpable emotion. This is the third Kincaid novel I own – her books Annie John and Lucy are must reads! I love her writing style and learning more about Antigua from the characters in her novels. Oh, and her books are usually in large fonts, so that’s always wonderful.


MabanckouTomorrowTomorrow I’ll be Twenty by Alain Mabanckou

The cover art of this book made me buy it! Alain Mabanckou is a renowned Congolese writer and I’m curious to read on the twists and turns in this memoir-esque novel. His books are usually written in French; Tomorrow I’ll be Twenty or Demain J’Aurais Vingt Ans originally in French, was translated to English by Helen Stevenson. This novel has been compared to J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye which I loved when I was 13, so I should enjoy this too! This is high up on my 2016 TBR list.


The Wine of Astonishment by Earl Lovelace Earl Lovelace

Trinidadian author, Earl Lovelace is another big name in Caribbean literature. The Wine of Astonishment is a classic and I’m glad I finally own it. This is the first novel I own from the Caribbean Writers Series.

 


Toni MorrisonGod Help the Child by Toni Morrison

This is ToMo’s latest baby. I’ve seen lots of mixed reviews of this book on Goodreads, so I don’t know when I’ll get to it. Maybe in 2016? (Sula is the only ToMo I’ve read thus far. Meh).

 

 


 

Pig Tails ‘n Breadfruit by Austin Clarke Austin Clarke

Have you ever read a culinary memoir? Well, in Austin Clarke’s book Pig Tails ‘n Breadfruit ‘each chapter is devoted to a detailed description of the ritual surrounding the preparation of a particular native dish—Oxtails with Mushrooms, Smoked Ham Hocks with Lima Beans, or Breadfruit Cou-Cou with Braising Beef.’ This is a (culinary) memoir of Austin Clarke’s childhood in Barbados. Clarke is a preeminent writer of the Caribbean and I’m ready to indulge – literally!



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Have you read any of these? What are you reading this summer? Please let me know!

*TBR : ‘to be read’

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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Date Read: June 10th 2015

Published: 1985

Publisher: Pocket Books/Washington Square Press

Pages: 295

 

 

The Blurb

Life wasn’t easy for Celie. But she knew how to survive, needing little to get by.
Then her husband’s lover, a flamboyant blues singer, barreled into her world and gave Celie the courage to ask for more – to laugh, to play, and finally – to love.

Review – ★★★★ (4 stars)

The Color Purple is an excellent book and it has won several awards: the Pulitzer Prize (1983), The National Book Award for Fiction (1983), National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee (1982); plus a (Steven Spielberg directed) movie adaptation starring Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey among others! But I think I would have been more blown away by this novel if I read it when I was younger. I’m sure the plot and some incidents from this book would have been quite traumatizing to me had I read this if I were 13 years old. Anyways, The Color Purple is my second Alice Walker novel of the year and I love love love her writing! Check out my review of her excellent short stories collection: You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down.

The Color Purple is about the survival of Celie in the world, during the 1930’s over about forty years. This novel is in epistolary form where Celie and her sister Nettie write letters to each other. In the beginning of the novel, Celie mostly writes letters to God and these letters seem more like diary entries where Celie expresses her sincere feelings of joy and pain. Celie is a loving, kind, docile soul who wouldn’t even hurt an ant. She is initially perceived to be ugly, dumb and worthy of being abused by her ‘father’. At the age of twenty Celie is married off to Mr. ____ to help raise his three children.

After she moves in with Mr. ____, Celie meets Shug Avery – her husband’s lover, and they eventually form a strong bond. Shug’s sassiness and confidence begins to rub off on Celie and she starts to evolve into a brave, outspoken woman, still full of love in her heart. I believe Celie’s transformation allows her to reap huge blessings for the many years of verbal, physical, mental and emotional abuse she endured during her childhood and marriage.

In my eyes, Celie was a lesbian. The sisterhood and love story between Celie and Shug Avery was very interesting to read – I always enjoy stories that feature same-sex relationships. The same-sex relationship in this story keeps The Color Purple very relevant, even in present day 2015. This book has a lot of characters with a lot of subplots, and I absolutely loved three characters:

Nettie: Celie seems to be everyone’s heroine, but my favorite character is Nettie – Celie’s younger sister. Nettie is an intelligent, respectful, good-spirited woman. The love Nettie and Celie share is the driving force that pervades this novel. I gained a lot of appreciation for Nettie as she wrote Celie letters on the happenings of her missionary adventures in Africa with the ‘Olinka’ tribe (this is a fictional tribe). In the letters she wrote Celie, it is evident that Nettie is more educated than Celie, as she writes in standard English instead of vernacular/broken English as seen in Celie’s letters.

Shug Avery: Shug is a mystery to me. She’s the type of woman who makes men fall in love with her lustful ways of singing and crooning crowds, but would also have relations with a woman. Is Shug bisexual? Shug isn’t the typical woman of her time. I loved Shug’s ability to live her life as she pleased without allowing the public’s negative perception of her lifestyle to taint her confidence and goals.

Sofia: Sofia is Harpo’s wife (Harpo is Mr. ____’s oldest son / Celie’s step-son). I have never read about any character like her before. She is crazy! Sofia is big, aggressive, abusive, brave, loud, rude, strong, wild, carefree! She’s the type of woman that fixes the roof on a house. She’s the type of woman that makes her husband weep! (No, not tears of joy). I enjoyed reading about Sofia’s boisterous ways and I was satisfied with her character development by the end of the novel.

Alice Walker’s ability to develop these characters so thoroughly made me forget that they were fictitious beings! This classic carries a lot of (heavy) themes that I’d love to discuss! But if I say more, I will surely give away some spoilers and that wouldn’t be right. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Alice Walker’s work, anyone who loves reading about African-Americans (of the South), anyone who appreciates feminism/womanism concepts, anyone who can stomach some pain, and anyone who simply desires to cuddle up with an uplifting book!

Given that The Color Purple was published over 30 years ago and it is such a classic, I observed that it has several lovely book covers!

(Check out the new and improved Book Covers Showcase section of the blog that features collages of colorful book covers from my favorite literature genres – HERE).

★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!

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This is another oldie but goodie from my Mom’s bookshelf. The Color Purple can be purchased on Amazon.

2015 New Releases To Anticipate!

2013 and 2014 were great years for African and Black Literature. 2015 promises to be pretty amazing as well! Some great books have already been released – like Issa Rae’s The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl ; Walter Mosley’s Inside A Silver Box ; Ayesha H. Attah’s Saturday’s Shadows, just to name a few!

Check out the blurbs of some African, Black (African-American) and Caribbean novels I’m really exited about:

UnderUnder the Udala Trees the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okapranta

(Release date: September 2015)

Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie. As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti’s political coming of age, Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.  Acclaimed by Vogue, the Financial Times, and many others, Chinelo Okparanta continues to distill “experience into something crystalline, stark but lustrous” (New York Times Book Review).

[This will be her sophomore novel. Check out my book review of her debut short stories collection: Happiness, Like Water]

 

 The Lost Child by Caryl Phillips

(Release date: March 2015)

Caryl Phillips’s The Lost Child is a sweeping story of orphans and outcasts, haunted by the past and fighting to liberate themselves from it. At its center is Monica Johnson—cut off from her parents after falling in love with a foreigner—and her bitter struggle to raise her sons in the shadow of the wild moors of the north of England. Phillips intertwineThe Lost Childs her modern narrative with the childhood of one of literature’s most enigmatic lost boys, as he deftly conjures young Heathcliff, the anti-hero of Wuthering Heights, and his ragged existence before Mr. Earnshaw brought him home to his family.
The Lost Child is a multifaceted, deeply original response to Emily Bronte’s masterpiece, Wuthering Heights. A critically acclaimed and sublimely talented storyteller, Caryl Phillips is “in a league with Toni Morrison and V. S. Naipaul” (Booklist) and “his novels have a way of growing on you, staying with you long after you’ve closed the book.” (The New York Times Book Review) A true literary feat, The Lost Child recovers the mysteries of the past to illuminate the predicaments of the present, getting at the heart of alienation, exile, and family by transforming a classic into a profound story that is singularly its own.

[Phillips is a well-known British-Kittian writer. This book is already out on the shelves!]

 

The Book of PhoenixThe Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor

(Release date: May 2015)

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.

But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.

 

Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett

(Release date: July 2015)

Furo Wariboko – born and bred in Lagos – wakes up on the morning of his job interview to discover he has turned into a white man. As he hits the streets of Lagos running, Furo finds the dead ends of his life open out wondrously before him. The world, it seems, is his oyster — except for one thing: despite his radical transformation, his ass remains robustly black…

Funny, fierce, inventive and daringly provocative — this is a very modern satire, with a sting in the tail.

[A. Igoni Barrett’s sophomore novel, Love is Power or Something Like That was quite popular in 2013! I’m excited for the book cover art of Blackass to be released soon!]

 

 

Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

(Release date: August 2015)

Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring) has been widely hailed as a highly significant voice in CaribbFalling In Love with Hominidsean and American fiction. She has been dubbed “one of our most important writers,” (Junot Diaz), with “an imagination that most of us would kill for” (Los Angeles Times), and her work has been called “stunning,” (New York Times) “rich in voice, humor, and dazzling imagery” (Kirkus), and “simply triumphant” (Dorothy Allison).

Falling in Love with Hominids presents over a dozen years of Hopkinson’s new, uncollected fiction, much of which has been unavailable in print. Her singular, vivid tales, which mix the modern with Afro-Carribean folklore, are occupied by creatures unpredictable and strange: chickens that breathe fire, adults who eat children, and spirits that haunt shopping malls.

How to be Drawn by Terrance Hayes

(Release date: March 2015)

A dazzling new collection of poetry by Terrance Hayes, the National Book Award–winning author of ‘Lighthead’How To Be Drawn

In How to Be Drawn, his daring fifth collection, Terrance Hayes explores how we see and are seen. While many of these poems bear the clearest imprint yet of Hayes’s background as a visual artist, they do not strive to describe art so much as inhabit it. Thus, one poem contemplates the
principle of blind contour drawing while others are inspired by maps, graphs, and assorted artists. The formal and emotional versatilities that distinguish Hayes’s award-winning poetry are unified by existential focus. Simultaneously complex and transparent, urgent and composed, How to Be Drawn is a mesmerizing achievement.

 

The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel by Naomi Jackson

(Release date: June 2015)

Two sisters are suddenly sent from their home in Brooklyn to Barbados to live with their grandmother, in this stunning debut novel.The Star Side of Bird Hill

This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah.

Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother’s limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother’s mysterious life.

This tautly paced coming-of-age story builds to a crisis when the father they barely know comes to Bird Hill to reclaim his daughters, and both Phaedra and Dionne must choose between the Brooklyn they once knew and loved or the Barbados of their family.

Jackson’s Barbados and her characters are singular, especially the wise Hyacinth and the heartbreaking young Phaedra, who is coming into her own as a young woman amid the tumult of her family.

 

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

(Release date: April 2015)

In a Nigerian town in the mid 1990’s, four brothers encounter a madman whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the core of their close-knit family. Told from the point of view of nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990’s Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades thThe Fishermene oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of its characters and its readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, The Fishermen never leaves Akure but the story it tells has enormous universal appeal. Seen through the prism of one family’s destiny, this is an essential novel about Africa with all of its contradictions-economic, political, and religious-and the epic beauty of its own culture. With this bold debut, Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the most original new voices of modern African literature, echoing its older generation’s masterful storytelling with a contemporary fearlessness and purpose.

*Chigozie Obioma also has a Tumblr campaign (Abulu Sightings) that is associated with this novel. On his Tumblr blog, photos of derelict and demented people throughout Africa are showcased, in the attempt to raise awareness of their predicament to the attention of African governments. Social change through literature – this is a very bold project! Check it out – HERE.*

What new releases are you anticipating? Please do share!