Day 3 – Anticipated Release: This wasn’t hard for me to choose at all. I’ve been waiting impatiently for the arrival of The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden. It is due to be released on May 3, 2016 by Akashic Books.
“During World War II, two African American musicians are captured by the Nazis in Paris and imprisoned at the Buchenwald concentration camp.
The Book of Harlan opens with the courtship of Harlan’s parents and his 1917 birth in Macon, Georgia. After his prominent minister grandfather dies, Harlan and his parents move to Harlem, where he becomes a musician. Soon, Harlan and his best friend, trumpeter Lizard Robbins, are lured across the Atlantic Ocean to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre—affectionately referred to as “The Harlem of Paris” by black American musicians.
When the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, Harlan and Lizard are thrown into Buchenwald, the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany. The experience irreparably changes the course of Harlan’s life.
Based on exhaustive research and told in McFadden’s mesmeric prose, The Book of Harlan skillfully blends the stories of McFadden’s familial ancestors with those of real and imagined characters.” (Goodreads site description of The Book of Harlan)
Bernice L. McFadden, born and raised in Brooklyn, has always known she wanted to write since she was a child. “I guess all of the literature I was consuming helped to fuel my already active imagination and so very early on I began writing short stories and plays. I would say my first story was penned by age eight.” (quote from Bernice L. McFadden) After her studies she ventured out to work as an international clothing buyer. Feeling dissatisfied with that job she went back to school and earned a degree in tourism. However it wasn’t until being laid off in 1990 that McFadden attempted writing seriously. It was during this period that she wrote her first novel, Sugar, which wasn’t published until 2000. Yes it took 10 years to find an interested publisher. McFadden has gone on to write many more interesting contemporary novels The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters, Nowhere is a Place, Glorious, Loving Donovan, and the list goes on. Her influences are writers such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Ann Petry, Zora Neale Hurston, J. California Cooper, Terry McMillan and many others. So if you’re into any or all of these writers, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t love McFadden’s writing too.
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