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Crystal
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Username: Crystal

Post Number: 474
Registered: 01-2004

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Posted on Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - 04:11 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Maybe not what most would consider historical novels in the manner of James Michener but more of a contemporary historical novel. African contemporary history. Stories written in/about the late 1950’s to early 1970’s. Some observations: drama is universal [duh] – the cultural differences are shown in how it’s resolved; the struggle people have in reconciling the European and African traditions, mindsets and bigotry continue to cause havoc on the continent and beyond; for the most part women the world over throughout time are treated like sh*t [and sometimes less than sh*t because dung is very useful ya know]!

A Grain of Wheat – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o [James Ngugi] - set in Kenya during independence. A good story of betrayal and guilt. A man turns his revolutionary friend over to the white folks who kill him. The other revolutionaries believe someone else did it but guilt forces the real culprit to confess at the village’s revolutionary celebration.

The River Between – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o set in Kenya at the time of the coming of the white missionaries. A man tries to be a bridge between the 2 worlds. He goes to a missionary school but still believes in the tribal way of life. He wants the Christians and tribalists to get together to keep the white man out but it doesn’t work.

Petals of Blood – Ngugi Wa Thiong’o [imprisoned when this was published due to the books indictment of the country’s leadership] – a murder mystery set in post colonial Kenya. That description doesn’t really say anything for the book . . . it’s the characters! And a glimpse of what happened when the African people re-took power and the effect of capitalism. Highly recommend!

Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangarembga – set in 1960’s Zimbabwe, an adolescent girl goes to live with her uncle and his family to go to school when her brother dies. Her cousins have been educated in England for 5 years and return home no longer able to speak the language and having a hard time trying to reconcile their life in England and their home life. Major family drama.

Dew in the Morning – Shimmer Chinodya – set in Zimbabwe a few years after independence. Story of a young boy whose family partially resettles in the countryside and builds a farm with the mother working in the fields while the father continues to live and work in the city to provide funds for the children’s education.

The Bride Price – Buchi Emecheta – set in early 1950’s Nigeria, a 13 year old girl living in Lagos with her mother, father and brother. Her father dies and she and her mother and brother must move back to their village where she meets and falls in love with a teacher whose recent ancestor was a slave and therefore forbidden to marry her. She and the man run away and get married but things don’t bode well because: “a girl whose bride price is not paid will not live to survive the birth of her first child”.

Second Class Citizen – Buchi Emecheta – Nigerian woman’s father dies and she is sent to live as a servant in her uncle’s family. To get away she marries and she and her husband move to London. He is supposed to be studying to be an accountant but fails his exams and refuses to work and treats her like crap. She works and provides for the family including eventually 4 children. Very hard to read about the way he treats her and her acceptance of it as the way things are.

Call Me by My Rightful Name – Isidore Okpewho – set in 1960’s. An AA college basketball player starts falling into trances and speaking a language nobody understands. Psychiatrists and linguists says it’s a Nigerian chant from Yoruba. He goes to Nigeria with his Dad and finds his family and the story of his ancestor who was stolen, turned into a slave and sent to America.

Minaret – Leila Aboulela – A Sudanese young woman’s rich and aristocratic father is killed in a political coup. She and her mother and brother move to London. Her mother gets sick and dies and the brother ends up in jail on drug charges. Girl goes to work as a nanny, falls in love with the young brother of her employer and is offered a pay off by the boy’s mother to leave him alone.

The Translator – Leila Aboulela – a young Sudanese widow working as a translator in a British university falls in love with a Scottish lecturer. She wants to get married but he has to convert to Muslim. At first he says no and she goes home but then . . .

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – set in the 1960’s immediately preceding and during the Nigerian/Biafran civil war. The story of Igbo twin sisters, their family, their lovers and their lives during the war. Loved It!

FROM AMERICA:

Our Nig – Harriet E. Wilson – the first novel published by a female AA author in the U.S. – 6 year old Frado’s black father dies and her white mother moves away leaving Frado with the white Bellmont family as an indentured servant. Mrs. Bellmont treats her so badly her health fails to the point of almost death. She survives [barely] until the end of her indentured service at age 18 then moves out. Eventually marries and outlives all the Bellmonts.

The Narrows – Ann Petry – set in 1950’s Link Williams falls for a wealthy, married white woman. But their story is only a small part of the book with its usual black man should know better than messing with a white woman ending. It’s the wonderful characterizations that makes this book.

I have Ann Petry’s The Street up next.
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Thumper
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Post Number: 772
Registered: 01-2004

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Posted on Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - 06:16 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hello All,

Crystal: I LOVE your list!! You mentioned several books and authors that I have not heard of before. I'm going to have to put them on my to-read-list. I have heard of Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, though. I've been wanting to read his "Wizard of the Crow" novel for a while now. I'm going to have to move it up my to-read-list. I love Petry's The Narrows! It's one book that should be made into a movie. I don't know if you remember this scene in The Narrows, it's the one where the cook (I forget his name) in the bar is telling Link how to cook spaghetti. And he tells him that when he was in Italy he discovered a secret to cooking it. The cook says that when most people start the sauce they use olive oil, but he uses bacon grease. And then he builds the sauce from there. Well, I decided to listen to the cook and fixed spaghetti sauce using bacon grease and it did change the taste of it, pleasently. It comes down to one's own preference, but the bacon grease is a most welcome change of pace. Who knew reading novels could enhance the way a person cooks. I know after reading James Baldwin's Another Country, he had instructions on how to cook a perfect pot of rice and it WORKS! I've been cooking my rice the way Baldwin's character instructed for YEARS!

Anyway, my reading taste lately has taken me to the Caribbean. Now, I'm in the middle of Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey. Then I hope to follow the biography with Marlon James's The Book of Night Women. I read and reviewed his book John Crow's Devil years ago. John Crow's Devil is off da damn HOOK! So, I am so looking forward to that. I also plan to start Keith Lee Johnson's Little Black Girl Lost series. Since I love what he has done with Phoenix Perry, I would like to see what he is doing with this series.
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Crystal
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Username: Crystal

Post Number: 475
Registered: 01-2004

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Posted on Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - 07:25 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I think the cooks name is Weak Knees. What a character! And the descriptions of some of his dishes made me lick my chops a couple of times during the book.

I plan to take a trip through Caribbean lit soon myself.

I LOVE BOOKS!
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A_womon
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Username: A_womon

Post Number: 2552
Registered: 05-2004

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Posted on Tuesday, February 03, 2009 - 09:47 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Partial List:

Orange Mint and Honey Carleen Brice
Basketball Jones E Lynn Harris
Can I Get A Witness? Reshonda Tate Billingsley
Joplin's Ghost Tananarive Due
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Soul_sister
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Username: Soul_sister

Post Number: 91
Registered: 01-2004

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Posted on Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - 09:52 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey Y'all,

I LOVE HISTORICAL FICTION. I am glad that Crystal opened the door for conversation. I love the thematic approach - especially starting with Africa - I have some of Thiong'o works and need to crack them open - My goodness there is such good works out there and so little time between newspapers, magazines - having to WORK - and such - but I'm going to make an dent in that genre and some of those titles.

I will have to revisit The Narrows - I read it a long time ago and fell in love with Petry - whose other title The Street is my favorite. Currently, I am working through Bertice Berry's new one The Ties that Bind. The historical fiction is spilling over into biography.

Thanks for the reminder about the Little Black Girl Lost series - I checked the library and most of the copies were out and others "missing" - I supppose I will have to buy it - darn another book purchase - smile.

peace
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Crystal
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Username: Crystal

Post Number: 478
Registered: 01-2004

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Posted on Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - 12:07 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

So I've added The Book of Night Women, Orange Mint & Honey and Little Black Girl Lost to my l-o-n-g list. Thanks Guys!

http://www.heinemann.co.uk/Series/Secondary/AfricanWritersSeries/buy/buy.aspx - here's a link to where I started my search on the African Writers Series.

There's also a list for the Caribbean Writers Series: http://www.heinemann.co.uk/Series/Secondary/CaribbeanWritersSeries/buy/buy.aspx

Soul Sister - we need more quality reading time!
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Anita
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Username: Anita

Post Number: 41
Registered: 02-2004

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Posted on Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - 06:31 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The Black Girl Next Door A Memoir-Jennifer Lynn Baszile
In Love With A Younger Man-Cheryl Robinson
It's All Love: Black Writers on Soulmates, Family, and Friends -Marita Golden
What Doesn't Kill You-Deberry and Grant
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Troy
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Username: Troy

Post Number: 1663
Registered: 01-2004

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Posted on Wednesday, February 04, 2009 - 08:26 pm:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I just finished The Last Prejudice by David Rivera - a good read. A novel about big girls, Has a bunch of wild stories (http://aalbc.com/authors/david_rivera.htm). The book drops next month.

Currently, I'm on a Paulo Coehlo (http://aalbc.com/authors/paulo_coelho.htm) kick. I just finished The Alchemist a wonderful, spiritual, novel. You feel like a better person after reading it. I just started Coehlo's Eleven Minutes. Rarely (if ever) do a follow up a book with another book by the same author. Some say Eleven Minutes is as good as <b>The Alchemist</i> (some say better), so I'm looking forward to this read.

Next up is Lisa Nichols' (http://aalbc.com/authors/lisa_nichols.htm) No Matter What!: 9 Steps to Living the Life You Love. This looks like it may be a really big book from Hachette. It pubs April 13, 2009. I'm actually reading this book in preparation for a book club meeting in April.

BTW, and you are hearing it here for the first time, AALBC.com is giving advance reading copies of book to book clubs. Visit http://fun.aalbc.com/book_club_contests.htm for more information.
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Steve_s
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Username: Steve_s

Post Number: 434
Registered: 04-2004

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Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 12:06 am:   Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Finished: "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone" -- James Baldwin

Reading: "Sag Harbor" -- Colson Whitehead

I liked the Ngugi Wa Thiong novel, "The River Between," but I remember it a little differently: criticial of traditional circumcision, but conceding that it will take a long time to eliminate it, and pro-Western education. I noted some uninteded gaffes, like (italics added):

...Circumcision was coming soon, hardly a week away. The initiation day would coincide with Christmas Day. Was this a challenge to Joshua? Dancing and singing was in full swing. And there was a new edge to the songs. Uncircumcised girls were the objects of cutting attacks...


I noticed something similar in the Baldwin novel I just read, "Tell Me How Long...":

...We had no choice. We really had no choice. I had to warm my girl, my freezing girl. I covered her with my body, and I took off her robe. I covered her, I covered her, she held me, and I entered her. And we rejoiced. Sorrow, what have we not known of sorrow! But, that morning, we rejoiced. And yet, it must be said, there was a shrinking in me when it was over...

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