everything book-related that catches my eye. mostly about books and writers I have read that interest me.

my main tumblr and my goodreads.

The Icarus Girl(2005) is a novel written by Nigerian-British author Helen Oyeyemi. 

Jessamy “Jess” Harrison, age eight, is the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother. Possessed of an extraordinary imagination, she has a hard time fitting in at school. It is only when she visits Nigeria for the first time that she makes a friend who understands her: a ragged little girl named TillyTilly. But soon TillyTilly’s visits become more disturbing, until Jess realizes she doesn’t actually know who her friend is at all. Drawing on Nigerian mythology, Helen Oyeyemi presents a striking variation on the classic literary theme of doubles — both real and spiritual — in this lyrical and bold debut.

Helen Olajumoke Oyeyemi (born 10 December 1984) is a Nigerian-British novelist.

Oyeyemi wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl, while still at school studying for her A levels at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. While studying Social and Political Sciences at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, two of her plays, Juniper’s Whitening and Victimese, were performed by fellow students to critical acclaim and subsequently published by Methuen.

In 2007 Bloomsbury published Oyeyemi’s second novel, The Opposite House which is inspired by Cuban mythology. Her third novel, White is for Witching was published in May 2009. It was a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award finalist and won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. A fourth novel, Mr Fox, was published by Picador in June 2011.

2014 Upcoming Fiction Reads Written By Authors of Color



1. Soy Sauce For Beginners  by Kristin Che(Jan 7th, 2014):Gretchen Lin, adrift at the age of thirty, leaves behind a floundering marriage in San Francisco to return to her Singapore home, where she confronts the challenges of her mother’s alcoholism and her father’s artisanal soy sauce business before being pulled into a family controversy.  In the midst of increasing pressure from her father to remain permanently in Singapore—and pressure from her mother to do just the opposite—Gretchen must decide whether she will return to her marriage and her graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory, or sacrifice everything and join her family’s crusade to spread artisanal soy sauce to the world.

2. On Such a Full Seaby Chang-rae Lee (Jan 7th, 2014): In a dystopian American future where declining urban neighborhoods have been transformed into highwalled, self-contained labor colonies whose Chinese immigrant residents work catching fish for the surrounding elites. In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan’s journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will soon become legend to those she left behind.

3. The Radiance of Tomorrowby Ishmael Beah (Jan 7th, 2014): Beah’s debut novel tells the story of two friends Benjamin and Bockarie, who return to their hometown, Imperi, after the civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to forge a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they’re beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food; a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depredations of a foreign mining company intent on sullying the town’s water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires. As Benjamin and Bockarie search for a way to restore order, they’re forced to reckon with the uncertainty of their past and future alike.

 4. The Secret History of Las Vegas  by Chris Abani (Jan 7th, 2014):  Salazar, a detective, is determined to solve a string of recent murders before he retires. He enlists the help of an expert in psychopathy, Dr. Sunil Singh, who is haunted by a betrayal of his loved ones in apartheid South Africa. But Sunil’s own troubled past is fast on his heels in the form of a would-be assassin.

5. Ripper: A Novel  by Isabel Allende (Jan 28th, 2014):  An atmospheric, fast-paced mystery involving a brilliant teenage sleuth who must unmask a serial killer in San Francisco.The Jackson women, Indiana and Amanda, have always had each other. Yet, while their bond is strong, mother and daughter are as different as night and day. Indiana, a beautiful holistic healer, is a free-spirited bohemian. Long divorced from Amanda’s father, she’s reluctant to settle down with either of the men who want her—Alan, the wealthy scion of one of San Francisco’s elite families, and Ryan, an enigmatic, scarred former Navy SEAL.

6. An Unnecessary Woman  by Rabih Alameddine (Feb 4th, 2014): The narrator of Rabih Alameddine’s fourth novel is reclusive seventy-two-year-old Aaliya Sobi, who lives alone in an apartment in Beirut who spends her time translating books into Arabic and then stowing them away, never to be read. The book is an exploration of Aaliya’s inner life -of her memories of Lebanon’s troubled recent history and her own turbulent past, and of her thoughts on literature and art. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.

7. Influx  by Daniel Suarez (Feb 20th, 2014) - New York Times bestselling author of DAEMON, returns with a new high-concept techno-thriller. Suarez imagines a world where hugely significant technological innovations have been suppressed by a secret government agency for decades—and are about to be unleashed in a massive upheaval that could destroy the Earth.

8. Kinder Than Solitudeby Yiyun Li (Feb 25th, 2014): When Moran, Ruyu, and Boyang were young, they were involved in a mysterious “accident” in which a friend of theirs was poisoned. Grown up, the three friends are separated by distance and personal estrangement. Moran and Ruyu live in the United States, Boyang in China; all three are haunted by what really happened in their youth, and by doubt about themselves. In California, Ruyu helps a local woman care for her family and home, and avoids entanglements, as she has done all her life. In Wisconsin, Moran visits her ex-husband, whose kindness once overcame her flight into solitude. In Beijing, Boyang struggles to deal with an inability to love, and with the outcome of what happened among the three friends twenty years ago. 

9. The Fall of Saints  by Wa Ngugi Wanjiku (Feb 25th, 2014): In this stunning debut novel, a Kenyan expat living the American dream with her husband and adopted son soon finds it marred by child trafficking, scandal, and a problematic past.Mugure and Zack seem to have the picture-perfect family: a young, healthy son, a beautiful home in Riverdale, New York, and a bright future. But one night, as Mugure is rummaging through an old drawer, she comes across a piece of paper with a note scrawled on it—a note that calls into question everything she’s ever believed about her husband.

10. Girl Missing (re-release)  by Tess Gerritsen (Feb 25th, 2014): A beautiful young woman’s corpse is found dumped in a garbage-strewn alley. Now laid out in the office of medical examiner Kat Novak is an unidentified body that betrays no secrets—except for a matchbook clutched in one stiff hand, seven numbers scrawled inside. When a second victim is discovered, Kat begins to fear that a serial killer is stalking the streets, using a deadly drug to do his dirty work. The police are skeptical. The mayor won’t listen. One of the town’s most prominent citizens, with a missing daughter of his own, is also Kat’s chief suspect. As the death toll rises, Kat races to expose a deadly predator who is close enough to touch her.

11.  All Our Names  by Dinaw Mengestu (March 4th, 2014): the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university campus into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into the deepest peril, as the movement gathers inexorable force, and the other into the safety of exile in the American Midwest. There, pretending to be an exchange student, he falls in love with a social worker and settles into small-town life. Yet this idyll is inescapably darkened by the secrets of his past: the acts he committed and the work he left unfinished. Most of all, he is haunted by the beloved friend he left behind, the charismatic leader who first guided him to revolution and then sacrificed everything to ensure his freedom.

12. Boy, Snow, Bird  by Helen Oyeyemi (March 6th, 2014): From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity. In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

Read More

(via authorsofcolor)

Native Son(1940) is a novel written by Black American author Richard Wright. 

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. 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.

Richard Wright was born on September 4, 1908, on a farm in Roxie, Mississippi, the son of Nathan Wright, a sharecropper, and Ella Wright, a teacher.

The family’s poverty forced them to move around the South during Wright’s childhood. In Memphis, Tennessee, his father left the family, and in 1915, his mother put Wright and his brother in a Memphis orphanage after she became ill. A year later, Wright began school at the Howe Institute in Memphis. Wright and his mother and brother eventually moved to Elaine (Phillips County) in 1916 to live with Ella’s sister, Maggie, and Maggie’s husband, Silas Hoskins. Silas Hoskins owned a popular saloon in Elaine, and one morning he did not return home. Later that night, a black man came to the house to tell the family that Hoskins had been murdered by a white man coveting Hoskins’ lucrative saloon. Wright and his family fled to West Helena (Phillips County) for fear of their own lives, and later they went to Jackson, Mississippi.

In 1927, Wright and his aunt Maggie moved to Chicago, Illinois. Wright wrote his first novel, Lawd Today!, which was rejected during his lifetime and not printed until 1963, after his death. A year later, Wright began work for the post office. He was drawn to the Communist Party and its ideas on equality. Communist publications like Left Front andNew Masses began publishing some of Wright’s radical poetry. In 1937, Wright moved to New York and was appointed coeditor of the Communist journal New Challenge. A year later, his Uncle Tom’s Children: Four Novellas was published to critical praise. He soon wrote Native Son (1940) and the autobiographical Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth (1945) to just as much praise. 

While in New York, Wright married Dhima Rose Meadman, a ballet dancer, in 1939. He left her a year later and married Ellen Poplar, a fellow member of the Communist Party. They had two daughters, Julia and Rachel. Eventually, Wright left the Communist Party. Throughout the 1940s, Wright traveled across the United States giving lectures as he continued to write and spend time with his family in New York. Then, in 1946, Wright traveled throughout Europe spending much of his time in France. He and his family eventually settled in Paris. Wright was attracted to the freedom he felt there and became involved in Présence Africaine and the existentialist movement. While in Paris, Wright continued to give lectures and write essays on ideas of equality, but he also began to write haiku.

On November 28, 1960, Wright suffered a heart attack and died. 

Source: Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Hands down one of the best pages on the internet


15 good reads/re-reads in 2013. I read fewer books in 2013 (22) than in 2012 (58), but that’s because I definitely wrote 4x the amount in 2013 versus 2012 and read about 3x more articles, essays and papers in 2013 than 2012. These 15 above were good reads though. Some are re-reads because honestly, each time I read a book it’s new. I’m rarely the same person picking it up for the second, third or fourth time. It’s like a familiar destination but how I interpret the terrain changes and the journey is altered a bit.

Below are links (courtesy of readabookson's blog) to download many of them; the ones I couldn't find I just added an Amazon link though you can check your local Black-owned bookstore as well, if you have one in your area.

  1. In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose by Alice Walker - Alice Walker
  2. The Womanist Reader - Layli Phillips
  3. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and The Politics of Empowerment - Patricia Hill Collins
  4. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday - Angela Y. Davis 
  5. Sister Outsider - Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde - Audre Lorde
  6. Pedagogy of The Oppressed - Paulo Freire
  7. Are Prisons Obsolete? - Angela Y. Davis
  8. Assata: An Autobiography - Assata Shakur
  9. Black Looks: Race and Representation - bell hooks 
  10. The Cross of the Redemption: Uncollected Writings - James Baldwin
  11. Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender and The New Racism - Patricia Hill Collins 
  12. Sisters of The Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery - bell hooks 
  13. Mom & Me & Mom - Maya Angelou
  14. Double Stitch: Black Women Write About Mothers and Daughters - compilation
  15. The Same River Twice: Honoring The Difficult - Alice Walker

I have a long reading list planned for next year, (which I will try to pin to Pinterest again like I did for ‘12-‘13), but my list is always longer than I can actually accomplish. I guess that’s what makes it great; the idea that you can never really finish, that it’s about the quality of what you read more than the quantity, it’s about how you apply it, and some things need to be read over a lifetime, again and again, even as ideas continue to evolve and build on previous foundations. 

(via strugglingtobeheard)


Literary Birthday - 31 December

Happy Birthday, Junot Díaz, born 31 December 1968

Junot Díaz Quotes

  1. In order to write the book you want to write, in the end you have to become the person you need to become to write that book.
  2. That’s life for you. All the happiness you gather to yourself, it will sweep it away like it’s nothing. If you ask me I don’t think there are any such things as curses. I think there is only life. That’s enough.
  3. You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.
  4. You can’t regret the life you didn’t lead.
  5. What we do might be done in solitude and with great desperation, but it tends to produce exactly the opposite. It tends to produce community and in many people hope and joy.
  6. Run a hand through your hair, like the white boys do, even though the only thing that runs easily through your hair is Africa.
  7. I guess I don’t know what my genres are because I keep discovering new kinds of books to enjoy.
  8. This is what I know: people’s hopes go on forever.
  9. And that’s when I know it’s over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it’s the end.
  10. The half-life of love is forever.

Junot Díaz is a Dominican-American writer, creative writing professor at MIT, and fiction editor at Boston Review. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoThis is How You Lose Her was on the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012 list. 

by Amanda Patterson From Writers Write

(via blackfoxx)

Mistress of Spices (1997) is a novel written by Indian-American author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The novel was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and made into a film by Gurinder Chadha and Paul Berges. 

The novel follows the adventures of Tilo, a mysterious figure who runs a grocery store in inner-city Oakland and uses her knowledge of spices to help her customers overcome difficulties. Tilo provides magical spices not only for cooking but also for the challenges that Indian immigrants in an alien land experience. She develops dilemmas of her own when she falls in love with a mysterious stranger she calls the Lonely American, as now she has to choose whether to serve her people or to follow the path leading to her own happiness.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her work is widely known, as she has been published in over 50 magazines, and her writing has been included in over 30 anthologies.

She was born in India in 1956 and lived there until 1976, when, at age nineteen,  she left Calcutta and came to the United States. She continued her education in the field of English by receiving a Master’s degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Her first works were books of poetry, Dark like the River (1987), The Reason for Nasturtiums (1990), and Black Candle(1991). In 1997, Divakaruni wrote her first novel, The Mistress of SpicesSister of My Heart, published in 1998, explores the tension between the desires of mothers who embrace traditional Indian culture, and the cousins, who embrace the new Western philosophies.

She currently lives in Houston, Texas and teaches at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. Since 1991, she has been the president of MAITRI, a helpline for South Asian women that particularly helps victims of domestic violence and other abusive situations. She is also involved with Pratham, a non-profit that seeks to improve literacy among disadvantaged Indian children.

Sources: Postcolonial Studies @ Emory and University of Minnesota

1 2 3 4 5