My Blogging Anniversary

Brown Girl Reading has made 9 years today. I can hardly believe it.  So in honor of my blogging birthday I’m reposting one of my first reviews.  You won’t believe it but I reviewed a zombie novel called Warm Bodies. Hated it! Surprise, surprise…  Thank you all for reading, commenting, and supporting all these years. I really appreciate it.  So here’s a post from the past in celebration of all of these years of blogging. Now nobody can say I haven’t tried to read a fantasy/zombie/romance/horror book. That favorite quote is pretty funny though.

Warm Bodies

7619057It seems as if my reading experience at the end of January has gone down slightly.  I strayed from my intentions of sticking to really good sure thing four-star and five-star books.  I was enticed into reading Warm Bodies – 1. because it was the YT book club pick for the 2nd of February, 2.  because I’ve never read a zombie book before, and 3.  because of the description on the back of the book was tempting and I was sure it was going be a good read.

Warm Bodies is a story of R, a zombie who cannot remember his name, his age, or how he’s become what he is.  He and other zombies spend their time wandering aimlessly in an abandoned airport, which is ruled by the terrifying  Bonies.  Bonies are zombies in the most decomposed state, essentially skeletons, that are vicious and dangerous.  R is a different kind of zombie because he has dreams.  One evening while R and some other zombies are out on a “food” run, he meets a “living” girl named Julie.  She is the total opposite of what he knows and an affectionate relationship grows between the two.  Sounds pretty interesting, but in essence reading about it was a total bore for me.

The best thing about this book is the writing style.  Isaac Marion is a talented writer.  He does an excellent job of describing situations and especially the feelings of R, however I found some parts of this story uninteresting and very slow.   Another good thing about Warm Bodies is the Vintage Originals paperback cover, white with the red raised nerves.  I also loved how each chapter begins with a labeled sketch of a part of the human body.  The sketches at the beginning of the chapters seem to correlate with what happens in the chapter where it appears.  There is a strong underlying theme from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette and I found that a little cliché at times.  It was as if he was trying much too hard to intellectualize this zombie story.  Since Isaac Marion apparently wrote this book for adults, he was surprised that his book is being shelved in the Young Adult section and thinks that adolescents aged 16-19 should be reading what he reads and that these classifications shouldn’t need to exist.  He believes this is mostly because of the quote from Stephanie Meyer on the back of his book.  Needless to say, they put Stephanie Meyer’s quote on the back and the front of the Vintage Originals paperback edition.  Marion feels “the YA label is reductive to any book.”  So there are probably a lot more adolescents picking this one up than adults, moreover I can’t see this story really  appealing to adults.  Who knows?  I could be wrong, certainly when you read Audrey Niffenegger’s quote on the back cover:

“Warm Bodies is a strange and unexpected treat.  R is the thinking woman’s zombie — he could be the perfect boyfriend (though somewhat grey-skinned and monosyllabic).  This is a wonderful book, elegantly written, touching and fun, as delightful as a mouthful of fresh brains.”

“Monosyllabic and grey-skinned “are not the only problem, R is a walking, smelly, rotting corpse for Christ’s sake.  Warm Bodies was published in 2010 and I don’t think I remember hearing anything about it before now, but the movie was released yesterday in the States and next week in Europe.  It is evidently more comical than the book, at least from what I can tell from the movie trailer.  It did well at the box office this past weekend, but will it be classified as another movie about love between a living being and an undead, like Twilight.  I’m sure the masses will be attracted to this film because of the comedy and I’d say go see the movie because you’ll have a better time than reading the book.

The New Hunger is the prequel to Warm Bodies, which is the beginning and ending of R and a few other characters.  It foreshadows the second part to Warm Bodies.  Isaac Marion has written since he was 14 years old.  He has done lots of different jobs, including delivering death beds to hospice patients and supervising parental visits for foster-kids.  Isaac Marion is the writer who has reinvented the zombie story, without really wanting to. He’s currently working on a sequel to Warm Bodies, which is due to be released in 2014.  Check out the clip below to find out more about his path to success.

Title: Warm Bodies

Genre:  Zombies/Horror/Fantasy/Romance

Published:  2010

Edition: Vintage Originals – Cool cover!

Pages:  240

Language:  English

My rating:  

My favorite quote:  ” ‘Why is beautiful that humanity keeps coming back?  Herpes does that, too.’ ” (Warm Bodies, p. 147)

 

 

 

 

Dear Ancestors Poems & Reflections on the African Diaspora

Poetry is not something I pick up very much but in the past 4 years I’ve had the pleasure of reading some fantastic poetry collections.  This year has started with Dear Ancestors Poems & Reflections on the African Diaspora by CP Patrick, author of the compelling novel The Truth About Awiti.  There are poems in this collection that come from The Truth About Awiti.  I strongly recommend you check it out because it is quite the story with a dash of fantasy and deals with the African diaspora and the transAtlantic slave trade.

It’s a slim collection containing only 58 pages, a short poem on each page.  To the eye that would appear to be slither to discuss such a complex subject, but believe me it’s more than enough.  From the first poem I was thrown into the African diaspora, my emotions rising within.  I could put it down and when I did I had finished and reread it a second time.

The collection is structured in 4 parts – Home, Middle Passage/Second Home, Bondage, Freedom or Something Like It.  The poems in each section are perfectly understandable.  These poems are not obscure or difficult to understand.  They are written with nuance and a perspective that will touch you before you realize it.  These poems made me reflect but also made me remember how proud I am to be black.  I come from strong people.  People that have a history that doesn’t just start with slavery.

The fact that CP Patrick begins the collection with poems from the section Home that cherishes the beginnings of black people in Africa – free with their own lives and customs, good and bad, exhibits her desire to tell our entire story.

“if but for a moment

you were

stillborn

descending from the heavens

leaving the safety of my warm womb

you saw this sad world

and changed your mind”

clairvoyant stillborn

  • CP Patrick, Dear Ancestors Poems & Reflections on the African Diaspora, p. 28

If you’d like to pick up a copy of Dear Ancestors or any of my other recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

 

Incognegro Renaissance #1

Zane Pinchback, the light-skinned reporter from the black newspaper The New Holland Herald is back!  The graphic novel Incognegro introduced us to Zane and the daring way he goes about writing stories about the lynchings that were taking place all over the south during the 1920s.

Zane continues to use this approach in a new graphic novel called Incognegro Renaissance #1.  This will be the first in a series of graphic novels featuring Zane Pinchback and continues to take place in New York during the Harlem Renaissance, giving the name to the series.

The story begins of course with a murder as most mysteries do, but soon we see that Mat Johnson the author is setting central characters, setting, but most of all social complexities of this time period for black people.  We’re in New York and Johnson shows the race division was clearly traced of where black people were allowed to be even within the famous Cotton Club of the time located in the heart of Harlem.  Zane is a determined reporter and won’t stop until he uncovers the truth.

Incognegro Renaissance #1 is a pretty straight forward mystery, with beautiful black and white artwork from Warren Pleece who also drew for Incognegro.  The graphic novel is split into 5 major chapters.  The 2 major complaints I have with Incognegro Renaissance #1 is that it’s too short and secondly the pages aren’t numbered.  I was expecting the story to be a lot more developed like Incognegro, but I guess Mat Johnson is taking his time to build this series.  Despite those two complaints, it was a very quick and enjoyable read.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Zane passing for white helps him solve the murders of black people but also affects his relationships with his friends and colleagues in future volumes.

I recommend beginning with Incognegro because it will give you more background on the character of Zane Pinchback, as well as the other minor characters surrounding him.  You’ll then be able to get into the prequel, Incognegro Renaissance #1 with a better feel of the story.  I checked to see if the following graphic novels  Incognegro #2 and Incognegro #3 have been released.  I found that they have been but sadly only in Kindle format. I’ll have to wait until they come out in paper  format and I have no idea when that will be.  If and when I hear anything I’ll let you know.  If you hear anything please let me know. 🙂

Incognegro Renaissance #1, hardcover (Berger Books)

 

 

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin – Terrance Hayes

When I heard about the release of this American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, I knew I had to read it.  I don’t often read poetry but when I do it’s because I’m sure the collection is going to move me.  And this one did that and more.

This collection was savvy, intelligent, angry, creative, and has its pages and words on the pulse of what’s wrong with America.  How does a poet cope with the election of a new president?  Lyrical and rhythmic, Hayes let’s us know what the deal is.  So you need to be ready.  He’s angry. Every sonnet in the collection has the same title, ‘American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin’.  One of the coolest things about this collection is that there is a sonnet index at the back.  The first line of each sonnet with its page number moreover when you read each line in the index it makes another poem.

In this collection, Hayes is the assassin but so are we if we feel as angry as he does.  He makes it clear that we are all linked and that we need to realize that and act like it.  He also reiterates that we’re in the shit! He uses everything from police brutality to pop culture to express his thoughts so if you aren’t up on the news, music, literature, tv, shows, movies, etc., it might be difficult to understand the meaning behind these sonnets.  I personally found them excellent and would recommend them to everyone, especially to Americans.  I’ve already read it twice.  Finding new meaning throughout the collection and I will surely pick it up again.  We are going through a difficult and unprecedented period in the United States that needs to change for the better!  All I can say is read American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin for some consolation and most of all vote!  Check out the video below where Terrance Hayes talks about his writing and reads a few of his poems.  He’s brilliant!

“AMERICAN SONNET FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN

The umpteenth thump on the rump of a badunkadunk
Stumps us. The link, the chump, the hunk of plunder.
The umpteenth horny, honky stump speech pumps
A funky rumble over air. The umpteenth slump
In our humming democracy, a bumble bureaucracy
With teeny tiny wings too small for its rumpled,
Dumpling of a body. Humpty-Dumpy. Frumpy
Suit. The umpteenth honk of hollow thunder.
The umpteenth Believe me. The umpteenth grumpy,
Jumpy retort. Chump change, casino game, tuxedo,
Teeth bleach, stump speech. Junk science. Junk bond.
Junk country, sum speech. The umpteenth boast
Stumps our toe. The umpteenth falsehood stumps
Our elbows & eyeballs, our Nos, Whoahs, wows, woes.”

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins, p. 48 – Terrance Hayes  (Penguin Books) 89 pages, paperback

Rating: 5 stars

If you’d like to pick up a copy of American Sonnets For My Past And Future Assassins or any of my other recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!
http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

No Place To Call Home – JJ Bola

JJ Bola’s, debut novel, No Place To Call Home attentively develops the themes expected in a novel about refugees surviving in a strange new country. Bola touches on language, community, parent-child relationships, specifically father-son and father-daughter relationships, expectations of first generation African children, religion, moeurs, and most of all home. All of these subjects are catalysts for developing each of the main characters.

The personable third person voice of No Place To Call Home tells the story of Papa, Mami, Jean, and Marie. The ingenuity of the narrator’s voice gently pulls us into the complex life of this family. Refugees from the Congo living in London, we follow the difficulty of Papa and Mami to survive while waiting to get their papers, which will allow them to stay in the UK legally. They are fleeing political horrors of the dictator Le Maréchal.

The story quickly focuses mostly on their family life. Jean is about 11 years old, trying to fit in and master the English language. This comes with many tests, from fitting in with the boys to making excellent grades to pleasing his exigent father. Jean’s sister Marie is the model child and student. She is younger and not the first-born boy so she doesn’t have the same expectations placed upon her as, her brother, Jean.

Bola does an excellent comparison of Papa and Jean by starting out developing Jean’s character at school in the UK and then later paralleling that with Papa’s adaptation to École Polytechinique in Brussels. They are two different ages in these scenes but it depicts similar difficulties they have, how they deal with them and how they develop and reinforce their personalities. This also depicts the way Bola has chosen to talk about African societal expectations for African men and women. The roles of men are incorporated in the story and juxtaposed with those of women. For example, there is Tonton, the lazy womanizer, Pastor Kaddi the dishonest evangelical priest, and Koko Patrice, Papa’s manipulative, elusive father, and Koko Mobali, Mami’s domineering father.

I strongly urge you to pick up No Place To Call Home.  Its touching characters and well-developed story lines will have you completely submerged.  I read this book in two sittings. I couldn’t put it down.  However the only thing that disappointed me about this book was the ending.  I was hoping for something a bit more concrete.

“JJ Bola is a Kinshasa-born, London-raised writer, poet, educator, and workshop facilitator. He has published two books of poetry, Elevate and Word, and performs regularly at shows and festivals.  In 2015-2016, Bola performed on a US poetry slam tour that took him to San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Toronto, and more.  He lives in London.” (back cover of No Place To Call home)

No Place to Call Home, 286 pages, Arcade Publishing

Rating: 4 stars

Recommended to: Readers looking for interesting fiction novels about refugees in the UK

Book quote:  “If you are lucky, you will never have to remember home through your mother’s tears or the rage in your father’s voice when it shakes. Home will be somewhere you run to, never away from. It will never chase you away; a rabid dog hot on your heels with teeth like a shark, teeth so sharp you can already feel it cutting into you.” (No Place to Call Home, p. 285)

If you’d like to pick up a copy of No Place To Call Home or any of my other recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!
http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

The Unkind Hours – Dwayne Alexander Smith

The Unkind Hours is the latest exciting thriller from Dwayne Alexander Smith, the author of terribly underrated Forty Acres. (You need to read Forty Acres if you haven’t already!)  We meet an ex-baseball player Steven who’s married to Nichole. They are happily married and have a little girl named Luna who is four years old.   She’s the apple of her father’s eye.  Steven and Nichole work together in their successful home decorating business.  It seems as if they have the ideal life, as if nothing can touch them, until something tragic happens that will alter their lives and make Steven do the unthinkable.  Smith explores the difficulty of doing the right thing by placing Steve in a moral predicament the reader is not likely to forget.  Is there real justice out there or should we take matters into our own hands.

Everything about this books screams excellent thriller for summer. Steven is the main character and is written in a fairly realistic manner. The story turns mostly around two characters so all the other characters are secondary.  However, that doesn’t make the story boring.  The strong dynamic between these two characters is what makes The Unkind Hours so suspenseful.  The pacing of the book is fast-moving enough with its short chapters and twists and turns.  The plot is interesting and Smith throws in enough surprises to keep the reader not only occupied with the story, but keeping us guessing on what’s to come.  Smith has even added a little surprise touch towards the end of the book that made me grin from ear-to-ear.  Can’t tell you what it is because that wouldn’t be fair to you. You’ll get it as soon as you read it.

Sadly this book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger because I was expecting the story to be tied up at the end.  This being said the villain in this novel is going to be an excellent character for Smith to play around with in future novels.  We’ll have to stay tuned to see when and if a part 2 comes out of The Unkind Hours.

The Unkind Hours, 340 pages, Damn Good Books

Rating: 4 stars

Recommended to: lovers of thrillers, readers who enjoyed Forty Acres, summer beach read!

If you’d like to pick up a copy of The Unkind Hours or any of my other recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!
http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

What Truth Sounds Like – Michael Eric Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson is back with his newly released book today, What Truth Sounds Like.  What Truth Sounds Like is  Dyson’s continued discussion of race in America, carried over from his book last year called Tears We Cannot Stop A Sermon to White America.  It was a book that was written specifically to speak to white America, whereas What Truth Sounds Like is written for us all.

Dyson begins the book focused on a discussion about race in 1963 between Robert Kennedy, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, and Lena Horne among others.  Kennedy was trying to find out their views on fighting segregation and discrimination in the north.  There weren’t any civil rights leaders there, just “well-known writers and other professional persons who have served as unofficial spokesmen for their race.”(What Truth Sounds Like, p. 14)

This historical meeting is the catalyst for Dyson to talk about race in America.  The opening chapter is an excellent beginning because it brings to light the difficulty of segregation and discrimination during one of the most critical moments in American history.  Baldwin and his friends were accusing Kennedy of not knowing anything about black life or the struggles of black people.  This is exactly the same reflection that could be made about white people today.

“Baldwin knew that America could only survive if it underwent an extraordinary social transformation-equality for all, hatred for none-that echoed the most noble ideals set out by our founding fathers.” (What Truth Sounds Like, p. 7)

As What Truth Sounds Like develops into chapters discussing the martyrs, the meeting, the politicians, the artists, the intellectuals, and the activists, Dyson goes through many of the different racial situations that have happened in the US in the past but specifically during this past 1 year and 136 days of Trumps presidency.  He also talks about specific famous people like Mohammed Ali and his activism as well a mistake he made referring to Frazier with “You seen the gorilla? From Manila?”.  He talks about President Obama – what he represented, his good points and the things that didn’t go so well.  He mentions so many people from Harry Belafonte to Chadwick Boseman, yes Black Panther and Wakanda. Yes, Wakanda Forever!

If Dyson does anything, he portrays the complexity of race in America and how the country has systematically refused to deal with the problem at all.   White people believed because President Obama was elected twice that there was no racism in America.  How naive is that thought?   One thing is for sure that Dyson says is that racism will have to be fought by both black and white people.  What Truth Sounds Like breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly and even tries to give solutions to some issues.   His style of writing is clear and detailed.  The masses of information he writes about is backed up with notes found in the back of the book.

I highly recommend both What Truth Sounds Like and Tears We Cannot Speak.  Moreover, if you prefer, get the audiobook which  is being read by Dyson, who has a powerful, rich voice that will have you captivated.  I urge you to watch the clip below of Michael Eric Dyson on The View, especially if you don’t know who he is.  He’s highly intelligent and doesn’t sugar coat.  He gives me life!

* I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

What Truth Sounds Like, 304 pages, St. Martin’s Press

Rating: 5 stars

Recommended to:  Readers interested in reading about race relations in the United States

 

 

Book to Movie Review – Devil in a Blue Dress

Book to movie adaptations never seem to be quite right.  In spite of the great idea to adapt the book because the story is good, it seems as if all the good points about the book get literally lost in cinematography translation.  I know you’re probably thinking, you can’t expect the same thing from a movie that you get from a book and rightfully so, but I still can’t help comparing them and being disappointed most of the time.

After my second reading of Devil in a Blue Dress I was so happy to have reconnected with Easy Rawlins.  My memory of the story is even more vivid.  He is an all around good guy that revels in his freedom.  He owns his own house, has no wife, and kids and is as free as the time period will let him be.  In the beginning of the story he loses his job and has no way to pay his mortgage.  He is then enticed into a job working for a white man called Dewitt Albright, who hires Easy for $100, to find a white woman who hangs out in predominantly black bars.  The setting is Los Angeles 1948.  From there the story takes off on a criss-cross of events leading Easy down dangerous paths.

So, I decided to check out the movie which I watched late on a Saturday night on my computer.  Devil in a Blue Dress was released in 1995 staring Denzel Washington as Easy and Jennifer Beals as Daphne Monet.  Firstly I was happy with Denzel being Easy because he seemed to fit the part perfectly.   The other character that was really good was Lisa Nicole Carson as Coretta James.  She was flirtatious, while being evasive about what she knew.  However, Jennifer Beals as Daphne Monet absolutely didn’t work.  I couldn’t understand the choice.  Daphne Monet is described as being a very beautiful blond, sultry woman.  She’s supposed to be the kind of woman who can tun the head of any man.  So no, Jennifer Beals didn’t exude sexy nor mysterious.  She looked more aloof and absent on-screen than crafty and sultry.

Another character that didn’t work for me was Tom Sizemore as Dewitt Albright.  He looked like a typical Italian mafia type and that wasn’t at all how I pictured him.  Albright’s character in the book is cold, calculating, and unpredictable.  I pictured him blond, tall, and slim – a man who could pass as a businessman.  Instead the Albright character was played as a mafia type like what we’d see in a New York city gangster movie.  Another character that didn’t work was Mouse played by Don Cheadie.  His character seemed to appear out of nowhere and was too crazy in the film.  I think I preferred Mouse in the book because his presence was more believable.  His character was explained, so he didn’t appear in the story like a bull in a china shop.  I felt as if Cheadie took away from Washington when they were on-screen together.  I believe that was because Mouse’s character seemed to have the upper hand in every scene they were together, not to mention we aren’t in Easy’s head as much as we are in the book.

The setting and the costumes were perfect.  These two things are visually necessary in making the story come full circle,  since the time period is the late 40s.  The prominent scenes in the book seemed to be played out far too quickly in the film, therefore losing the ongoing tension of the story.  Throughout the book the reader has an on-going fear that something tragic is going to happen to Easy from the police, Albright, Frank Green, passing cars,… Mosley paints a picture of a black person living in the late 40s in a very realistic manner.  The simple act of walking down the street can be dangerous.  The book makes the threat against black people an ongoing fear throughout the mystery.  This adds supplementary tension to the story.  That aspect is lost a bit and seems to focus more on the storyline which slightly changes the last third of the book.  I think that is what disappointed me the most.  Seeing that the movie was produced in 1995, I should have expected these changes.

So should you watch it?  I guess I’d say yes if you don’t ever plan on reading the book.  Having said that, if you read the book first the movie adaptation won’t bring you anything more than a watered down version that you’ll be disappointed watching.

 

Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins #1) – Walter Mosley (hardcover)

Washington Square Press

263 pages

Rating – 4 stars

 

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing.
http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

 

 

 

Camilla's Roses

Camilla’s Roses is Bernice L. McFadden’s sixth novel.  I’ll have just reached the halfway mark on my book challenge to read all of her books in order of publication this year. So far this has been an interesting challenge.  I’m enjoying observing how her writing style has developed and improved with each novel.

Not knowing what to expect, I have to say that Camilla’s Roses took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  The novella is separated into three distinct parts – the present, the past, and the present.  McFadden uses the section on the past to show us img_4109Camilla’s upbringing, her relationship with her family, and her coming of age.  She is born to two parents who are weak, incompetent, and driven by their personal demons.  Luckily for Camilla she is raised by her grand-parents despite the difficulty of having to take care of so many people in their home.  With all the difficulty of growing up that Camilla had she only wanted to leave and to never look back once she went off to college.

The novella develops twists and turns in ways you won’t be able to predict.  With sensitivity McFadden exposes the good, the bad, and the ugly of the ups and downs of life.  “We forget about the people we love sometimes.” (Camilla’s Roses, p. 120)  Camilla learns that she can’t hide from her past and her family, for this is what has  made her who she is.  However, is she ready to reconcile with all of those difficulties in her past and become an even better black woman in the end?

Bernice L. McFadden’s writing style in Camilla’s Roses can be described as rhythmic and  sharp.  At times the transitions are so quick that if you’re not paying attention you just might miss a piece of important information that’s been dropped unexpectedly.  This story is tightly recounted and gives loads of information throughout, which is probably why the second part, the past, is the longest part of the novella.  It gives Camilla’s and her family’s back story.  Despite it’s 203 pages, I didn’t feel too unsatisfied at the end, although I’d have liked to have seen what became of her husband.

For any of  you out there interested in reading more from black women writers Camilla’s Roses wouldn’t be a bad place to start.  I’d say it’s a little snack of what is to come if it’s your first read of Bernice L. McFadden.  I think I’d have to suggest  Sugar as the ideal first book to pick up from McFadden’s list of novels because it is an incredible story with complex and unforgettable characters.   If you’re interested in themes that touch on black women, black community, mother/daughter relationships, colorism, and more Camilla’s Roses is for you too.  Check out the video below to learn more about how Bernice L. McFadden started her writing career.

My copy:  Camilla’s Roses, hardcover, 203 pages (Dutton)

My rating:  * * * * 

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing.
http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading

 

Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race

It was approximately five months ago that my book club was speaking about race since we were discussing Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I found myself being the unique reference since I was the only black person in the room.  Scary. That brought home the idea that black people are not a monolith.Everybody else is white and the majority are from the UK.  Surprisingly enough, the subject of race and the UK came up as they all declared themselves disappointed with America’s outward racism since 45 being elected.  They then came to the conclusion that class was more of a divide in the UK than race.  I was surprised to hear this because the few black people I’ve known from the UK always said that race was largely the issue.  Not being able to speak knowledgeably about the UK’s race issues, I remained silent on that one, while silently suspecting that they were giving the UK a bit too much credit on the race issue.

Contrary to the title  Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race,  I find myself img_4073having to do it more frequently, since I’ve been living in France for over 20+ years.  Here nobody wants to bring up the subject of race.  The French are living in a race Disneyland in their heads.  They never question the lack of racial diversity on television, in politics, in schools, and in the hierarchy of big business.  Everything is hunky dory here.  France has quite a way to go before they begin to just scratch the surface of their race issues.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race was an engrossing and informative read touching on race in the UK.  This book was developed from a blog post Reni Eddo-Lodge had written on 22 February 2014 about her difficulty to speak about race with white people.

“I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race.  Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the legitimacy of structural racism and its symptoms.  I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience.  You can see their eyes shut down and harden.  It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals.  It’s like they can no longer hear us.” (Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, p. ix) White people not being interested in hearing about race problems was very similar to what Michael Eric Dyson described in Tears We Cannot Cry:  A Sermon to White America.

This book is her detailed extension of that blog post.  It reminds the reader that black American story has taken over and become the story that is learned in the UK, while the black British story being neglected.  So neglected that the average British person probably isn’t aware of how blacks really got to Britain nor how much race as also shaped the UK.  It opens with a powerful preface, introducing you to Eddo-Lodge’s voice –  insightful and punctilious.   The book is separated into seven chapters, Chapter 1 beginning with the history of Britain – colonialism and slavery.  The other chapters cover the system, white privilege, mixed race people, feminism, and finally race and class.  The very last chapter is uplifting and gives both white and black people ideas on how to deal with discussions about race.  Basically, we have to choose our battles carefully.

“Racism does not go both ways.  There are unique forms of discrimination that are backed up by entitlement, assertion and, most importantly, supported by structural power strong enough to scare you into complying with the demands of the status quo.  We have to recognize this.” (Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Racep. 98)

If you’re still not sure about reading Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, click the video below and listen to Reni Eddo-Lodge talking about it.  It’ll give you an even better overview of the topics she covers.

My copy:  Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race,  paperback, 224 pages

My rating:  * * * * *

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing.
http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=browngirlreading