Sag Harbor Live Discussion

Sag Harbor – Colson Whitehead, 329 pages, Anchor Books

Rating: 4,5 stars

Recommended to: Lovers of coming-of-age stories, summer read…

Particularity: Coming-of-age story by a black man

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Man Booker International Prize 2018 Longlist

I had to come on here to talk about the Man Booker International Prize 2018 longlist.  It looks a lot more interesting than The Women’s Prize 2018 longlist, which didn’t move me one iota.  The Man Booker International Prize always seems to have that right amount of flavor and difference to get a lot of readers of literary fiction interested.  Sadly this year’s list contains no black authors but despite that I’ve found at least 8 books out of the 16 that I’d like to check out at some point; whether they wind up on the shortlist or not.   The shortlist will be announced on April 12th and the winner will be announced on May 22nd.  The judges are all powerhouses in their jobs and that should make it hard for them to agree on the shortlist and in the end the winner.  They will be looking at different aspects of novel-writing and it will be hard to predict which books will wind up on the shortlist.  The judges are being chaired by Lisa Appignanesi OBE, author and cultural commentator.  The panel consists of translator Michael Hofmann, novelist and essayist Hari Kunzru, critic Tim Martin, and novelist and short story writer Helen Oyeyemi.

Happily France has 2 entries with Vernon Subutext 1 by Virginie Despentes and The 7th Function of Language by Lauren Binet.  The former I’ve heard a lot of French people rave about here and the latter I haven’t heard much about but it sounds intriguing, especially since Laurent Binet is known for HHhH which was a very successful novel and adapted to film.  There is a strong Latin representation on this longlist with 3 books from Spain and 1 from Argentina.

The list is very eclectic as usual and all sorts of genres are represented in this longlist.  There’s even a horror book on the list called Frankenstein in Bagdad by Iraqi writer Ahmed Saadawi.  I’m not sure what I’ll be able to read before the shortlist is announced in April or even what I will be able to find, since sometimes some titles may not be readily available.  I’m in no hurry.  If I read anything, firstly I will probably pick up Vernon Subutex 1 and/or The 7th Function of Language because I can get them both here very easily in French.  So that’s my take on this literary prize. Will you be reading anything from this longlist?  Will you be following this prize closely?  If so what are you interested in reading?  I’ll leave the longlist below with the books I’d like to read at some point in bold.

The 13 books on this year’s longlist are:

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 28 #ReadSoulLit Wrap Up

 

 Unbelievable I stuck to a TBR!😅 Sadly Black History Month will soon be over but luckily #readsoullit can continue on.  Hope you all had a good one and have discovered some new authors and new books to read throughout the rest of 2018. My #readsoullit stack was pretty good. No duds and I managed to read 7 books. Wish I could have gotten in a 400+ page book so it looks like that will be a priority for next month. Happy continued #readsoullit reading and Thanks to you all for participating!  Please check out the video below of Frank X Walker, a great Affrilachian poet from Kentucky.  The best works I read this month were from him.  Buffalo Dance and When Winter Come are two excellent poetry collections – MUST READS!

What did I read this month:

Tar Baby – Toni Morrison, paperback, 306 pages (Vintage) ****

Buffalo Dance The Journey of York – Frank X Walker, paperback, 69 pages (The University Press of Kentucky) *****

When Winter Come The Ascension of York – Frank X Walker, paperback, 115 pages (The University Press of Kentucky) *****

A Red Death – Walter Mosley, paperback, 312 pages (Washington Square Press) ****

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore – Walter Mosley, hardcover, 265 pages (Doubleday) ***

The Mighty Miss Malone – Christopher Paul Curtis, hardcover, 307 pages (Wendy Lamb Books) ****

Halsey Street – Naima Coster, hardcover, 320 pages (Little A)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 25 First Letter of Your Name

It wasn’t easy finding a title that starts with the letter D in my collection of books.  In the end, I found two, Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor was one of them.  I decided to go with Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, which is on my TBR for this year, since I’ll be focusing on reading what’s on my shelves. This was Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s debut novel published in 2009 and is apparently her only novel to date. Daughters of Stone follows five generations of Afro-Puerto Rican women through their physical and spiritual journey, starting in the 1880s.  Check out the video below where Llanos-Figueroa reads an except from her novel and talks about how and why she wrote it.

Daughters of Stone – Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, hardcover, 323 pages

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 22 Book and a Drink

Black No More has been on my TBR for quite a while. It’s on my list of #SundayShorts to read this year. Black No More is a Harlem Renaissance Classic that explores race in an unexpected way, that will spark much thought and deep conversation. « What would happen to the race problem in America if black people turned white? Would everybody be happy? These questions and more are answered hilariously in Black No More, George S. Schuyler’s satiric romp. »(back cover of Black No More) Of course there’s tea in this picture because that’s what I’m usually drinking when I’m reading. What do you usually drink when you’re reading?

Black No More – George S. Schuyler, paperback, 180 pages

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 21 Published in you 21st year

 

    

I was 21 years old in 1987 when this great American literary novel was written, Beloved.  I read it for the first time in 1988 in a black women writers class.  All I can say is unbelievably well written and unforgettable.  I should definitely reread it sooner than later.  Who knows maybe this year?  I’m anxious to see if I’ll love Beloved even more than the first time I read it.  Thank you @tonimorrison__ 👑 for continuing to write books that inform us but most of all make us reflect on the human condition.  Oh and this is the beautiful @foliosociety edition I invested in a few years ago. It’s beautiful! 😍

Beloved – Toni Morrison, hardcover, 304 pages (Folio Society)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 9 Want to Reread

There are so many novels that I’d like to reread but the one that comes to mind from an African-American author is Native Son.  I first read Native Son in college for a third year literary course.  I was blown away by the precision in Richard Wright’s writing style.  You will literally go through all emotions while reading this tragic and infuriating novel, which show cases Bigger Thomas one of the most intriguing main characters in an American modern classic.  Native son has to be one of the greatest American classics and should be read by all.  Have you read it?  Were you blown away by it?

Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.” (Native Son, description from Goodreads)

Native Son – Richard Wright, paperback, 454 pages (Vintage Classics)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 7 – Fave Secondary Character

Mawu was the character that broke the sanity of the beginning if this novel. Slave women that accompany their masters on a retreat to Tawawa House. The seediness of this novel made me so mad, but the arrival of Mawu made the other slave women think of freedom for the first time.  She was strong and fearless. This story saddened me but I enjoyed the texture that Mawu added to the dynamic of the story.  It is definitely a must read for the uniqueness of the story.  You can click Wench to see my review.  Have you read this one? What did you think?

“Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It’s their open secret.

Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don’t bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory–but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.” (Goodreads description, Wench)

Wench – Dolen Perkins-Valdez, paperback, 290 pages (Amistad)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 5: Historical Fiction

 

I read this one a few years ago when it came out. Very interesting story that is written with a lot of creativity. This was my first book by James McBride and it certainly won’t be my last. I think I might even think about rereading this one. “Henry Shackleford is a slave boy in Kansas Territory in 1856, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forced. When the legendary abolitionist John Brown arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town-with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.” (Inside flap of The Good Lord Bird) .

The Good Lord Bird, hardcover, 417 pages (Riverhead Books)

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Born on a Tuesday

Born on a Tuesday opens following a gang of street boys, who are hanging in the streets and getting up to no good. They spend time smoking wee wee, pillaging, committing random acts of violence and even murder. We are introduced to the main character, Dantala, “born on a Tuesday”, alias Ahmad. His poignant first person voice recounts his coming of age story in northern Nigeria.

This poignant novel takes us through friendships, political strife, islamic extremism, and death. We as readers learn more about the real life difficulties of growing up a boy in northern Nigeria. Dantala is a boy who has seen a lot already from the beginning of the novel. In spite of this, he is still not enough street smart. He is away from his home and is supposed to be studying the Koran, Arabic, Hausa, and Math. He’s an excellent student but a horrific incident sends him running for his life from Bayan Layi. We have no idea how old he is but it’s quite clear he can’t be more than 15 years old. He finds himself weak and sick in a town called Sokoto. This is where the growth of Dantala and Born on a Tuesday continues.

I have to say I was excited to buddy read this novel with The African Book Addict. We both owned Born on a Tuesday and were anxious to get to it.  This book touches on many typical themes as most coming of age stories but this one goes much further. It explores political power, religion, and how religious extremism starts and can envelop a community and the innocent.  This novel depicts all the complexities that we can’t think of.  The writing style and the author’s capacity to make the reader feel so many different emotions in so few pages are the best things about Born on a Tuesday.  I was engrossed immediately and liked Dantala’s personality. At times I found myself mentally rooting for him and urging him not to make bad choices.

The structure of the novel was cleverly done.  It is separated into five parts ranging from 2003-2010. Part 3 begins with a chapter called Words. It’s from here where we read Dantala’s English word journal. These sections, written in italics, explore words that he had learned in English and through his journal we go deeper into his thoughts about what is going on in his life through them.  It is a diary of sorts disguised as a simple word journal. Some of the words he writes about are obsess, anthropology, terrify, discovery shrug, etc.  These passages are some of the more vulnerable moments of Dantala’s thoughts. It’s a clever device that Elnathan John uses for us to see what Dantala really thinks and feels about things.  Despite this being a first person narrative, we are immediately sucked in and believe everything he recounts. He’s a pretty reliable narrator too since he doesn’t try to lie about his feelings or actions when he is embarrassed (and there are quite a few embarrassing moments) or wrong.  I know usually readers feel first person narratives get a little too close for comfort but I can’t explain exactly why but this one could only work in that point of view.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Elnathan John and I can’t wait to get to another one. His writing is unfaltering and informative. Born on a Tuesday was shortlisted for the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2016. After reading this one I’d like to know which title won.  Elnathan John is a writer and novelist and is one of Nigeria’s most well-known satirist.  If you’d like to read more of Elnathan John’s writing check out his blog Elnathan’s Dark Corner.

My copy:  Born on a Tuesday, Elnathan John (Cassava Republic), paperback 261 pages

My rating:  * * * * *

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