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[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
Haven't posted in a while. Here's a series of mini-reviews with some spoilers. Also, some of the books contain potentially triggering content.

6. Un-Nappily in Love by Trisha R. Thomas
7. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
8. Tracks by Louise Erdrich
9. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
10. Umbrella by Taro Yashima
11. Little Joy by Ruowen Wang
12. Why War is Never a Good Idea by Alice Walker
13. Erika-san by Allen Say
14. Dahanu Road by Anosh Irani
15. What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
16. The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez
17. In the Company of Ogres by A. Lee Martinez
18. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
19. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez
20. Monster by A. Lee  Martinez
21. Certainty by Madeleine Thien
22. So Long Been Dreaming edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan
23. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
24. Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez
25. A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez
26. A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
27. Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead

Mention (not counted)
Josias, Hold the Book by Jennifer Riesmeyer Elvgren (white); illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (person of colour)

Read more... )
[identity profile] fiction-theory.livejournal.com



Title: The Salt Roads
Author: Nalo Hopkinson (NaloHopkinson.com; Author's Blog; @nalohopkinson)
Genre: Fantasy
Page Count: 392
Publisher: Warner Books

Reviewer's Note: I hope that the tags I have used are appropriate and as always, if any part or the whole of this review is not appropriate for this community, I will edit or delete immediately at the request of the moderators.


Review: The Salt Road by Nalo Hopkinson )
[identity profile] mizchalmers.livejournal.com
Last year I reviewed Edwige Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying for this community. Today I am devastated to have to add that Maxo, Danticat's cousin, whose father's death in DHS custody was the subject of that book, has himself been killed in the earthquake.
sanguinity: woodcut by M.C. Escher, "Snakes" (Default)
[personal profile] sanguinity
I am seeing much commentary on the ahistoricity of the news coverage of Haiti, especially with respect to U.S. imperialism, Haiti's legacies to the rest of the Americas, and the interlinked histories of Haiti and the Dominican Republic (no link; that's mostly me yelling at Robertson on the TV).

Through all this discussion of what isn't being talked about, most of the book-recs I've seen have been for white U.S. academics. I am very much feeling the lack of recs for POC authors. After several hours search this morning, I've been able to come up with:
  • Edwidge Danticat, novels and memoirs (in-comm posts here)
  • The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora (edited by Danticat)
  • Jean-Bertrand Aristide
    • Aristide: An Autobiography (1993)
    • Dignity (1996; memoir of his three years in exile after the 1991 coup)
    • Eyes of the Heart: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization (2000)
  • Jean-Robert Cadet, Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle Class American

Can anyone chip in and make some more recs? I myself am preferentially looking for English-language histories, but please recommend fic or nonfic, in French or English, especially if the book is by Haitians themselves.
[identity profile] whereweather.livejournal.com
18. Breath, Eyes, Memory, Edwidge Danticat
Vintage, 1994

Another writer who's long been on my to-read list.  Breath, Eyes, Memory is Danticat's first novel; it chronicles part of a girlhood in Haiti, the experience of moving to New York to rejoin her mother, and, later, as an adult and young mother, returning to Haiti to see her aunt and grandmother again.

As a novel, the book is very loosely plotted; it has a number of characteristic first-novel traits, including a certain uncertainty about its direction and themes, and some clumsiness in construction.  But Danticat is a good writer -- not yet skilled, here, but good -- and the kind of writer I like: the uncertainty usually doesn't lead to contrivedness, but lends an honest ear to mystery; it is seeking rather than trying to make things clean.

I found the book's heavy use of (snippets of) Haitian Creole very interesting -- I know French well, so parsing the meaning and looking up words and phrases was very cool -- and was moved and troubled by the book's exploration of the "virgnity cult" with which the generations of Haitian women in the book are so obsessed, trying to preserve their daughters' 'purity' in ways that seem shocking and violent to a reader like me.  Also -- and I don't know whether or not this was deliberate -- I find the evocations of daily life in Haiti extraordinarily illuminating, not so much for the descriptions of weather, customs, flora and food (although those are there) but for the differences between its material culture and my own.  Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere (a fact I looked up, not a point underlined in the book), and the ordinary people in this book do not have things surrounding them in the way that Americans do.  They live in houses with one room and one bed, they have outhouses and outdoor firepits, they cook their food in banana leaves, they sleep on the same mat they use to pile their beans to sell at market.  They walk miles in the dark to save fare on the collective taxis.  I don't think they have electricity; they light lanterns after dark.  All these things are normal to the narrator, and, I guess, to the people as well, but they are amazing, collectively, to a reader like me, at least when paying attention.

Summary: I like Danticat, and her lyricism; I like the odd, bold, lyrical, very unusual title of this book.  Any recommendations for other, later works of hers?

[identity profile] mizchalmers.livejournal.com
17. Edwige Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying

My uncle did not look resigned and serene like most of the dead I have seen. Perhaps it was because his lips were swollen to twice their usual size. He looked as though he'd been punched.

This is Danticat's memoir of her childhood. She was raised by her uncle Joseph in Port au Prince and by her father in Brooklyn. At the precise moment she found herself pregnant with her first child, her father was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease; but it was her uncle who died first, and under circumstances almost impossible to comprehend. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials detained him, accused him of faking illness while he suffered an attack of acute pancreatitis and shackled him in the hospital, where his heart stopped.

Danticat's book is full of echoes. In its cool delineation of apocalyptic grief it recalls Elizabeth McCracken's An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination and Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. Its juxtaposition of immigrant communities on the East Coast with the bewildering corruption of a Carribbean nation reminded me of Junot Diaz's Oscar Wao; the relentlessly clear-eyed portrait of Haiti matches that of Graham Greene's The Comedians.

Yet of all the old shades this book raised for me, the most vivid was that of Vikram Seth's wonderful Two Lives. The memoirs share a compulsion to record both the suffering and the nobility of those who raised the writer; a compulsion that is at times almost off-putting in its intensity. What could be more human or heartrending, though, than this desperate need to chronicle the stories that pass from the world with our fathers and uncles and aunts? To understand how they came to be who they were? And in the end, what else can we give our children?
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[personal profile] sophinisba
Hi everyone, I'm new and my goal is to read 50 books by people of color this calendar year and post reviews once a month. So far I'm a little ahead with reading and a little behind with posting. These are the books I finished in January:

1. Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker, 2004
This is a novel made up of linked short stories about Haitian and Haitian American characters, most of them somehow related to stories of political violence, especially the torture of prisoners. It's not clear until the end how the different parts relate to each other and at times I felt a little lost as far as that goes, but all the characters felt very real and all their stories were interesting and moving, even when I wasn't sure what year I was in, and even though I know very, very little about Haitian history. I liked that there were characters from different social positions and different sides of the conflict but they were all sympathetic, all presented as human beings. I liked that one of the women had an ex-girlfriend and this was part of her character but not the point of it. Mostly I just loved Edwidge Danticat's prose! I hadn't read anything of hers before but I've got the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory out from the library now and I'm also very interested in I will definitely be reading the memoir Brother, I'm Dying, which was reviewed here.

2. Machado de Assis, Dom Casmurro, 1899
I had to read this for school, but I enjoyed it anyway. :) Most critics and regular Brazilians consider Machado to be the greatest Brazilian writer of all time, and this is one of his most important books. This is a novel about a friendship, courtship, and marriage in which the husband, Dom Casmurro, is the unreliable narrator. In some ways it's incredibly frustrating that we never get to hear the woman's side of the story, but that's also what's so fascinating about it, that the book is partly about her being silenced, and over a hundred years later readers continue to argue about what actually happened in the story. The writing is also just fun, with lots of crazy asides in which the narrator addresses the reader or talks about the construction of the novel. Read more... )

3. Jamaica Kincaid, My Brother, 1997
I was excited to read this because back in college I'd been blown away by Kincaid's novel Lucy and her essay A Small Place. My Brother is a memoir about the author's younger brother dying of AIDS in Antigua in the 1990s. What I liked about it was one of the things I loved about those other books – the raw honesty of it. Kincaid doesn't hide her anger at her mother for the way she treats her children, at her brother for being careless about his own and others' lives, at Antiguans in general for trying to ignore this disease, and for not taking care of people who are sick and suffering. I liked this book, I got sucked into it and read it quickly and found it very affecting, but it I wouldn't recommend it as readily as I do those other two. (I'm also planning to read her novel Annie John soon.) To me this read like something Kincaid had to write in order to deal with this horrible event in her life, but where she wasn't really thinking that much about the reader, or that's my explanation for why I didn't connect as much with this one.

4. Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower, 1993
I know a lot of you have read this already and it's been reviewed in the comm before, so I won't summarize here. I had a little trouble getting into this at the first but I loved the second half and I'm looking forward to reading Parable of the Talents. Read more... )

5. Eric Liu, The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker, 1998
I know some Asian American readers have had strong negative reactions to this book and others have loved it. It seems to work for most people as a memoir, as one guy talking about his experience as a Chinese American, deciding (or having his parents decide for him) how much his Chineseness is going to be part of his life and his identity. I really like how honest and thoughtful he is, that he not only acknowledges that his Chinese language skills are not good or that some Asian Americans would call him a "banana" because he "acts white", but that he really talks about different sides of what that means. I also like that he talks about people he knows who've experienced being Asian American in completely different ways, and he talks about how his own attitude has changed throughout his life, or sometimes how it changes in the course of one conversation.

Some people don't like the parts of this book that go into bigger generalizations about history and assimilation and the meaning of race and ethnicity in the US. But I really loved these parts too! I figure it's not that you need to agree with him on everything, but he's putting out some really interesting ideas and the writing is elegant; it was a real pleasure for me to read.
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[personal profile] littlebutfierce
One Tribe - M. Evelina Galang. Read more... )

The Shadow Speaker - Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu. Read more... )

Not Home, But Here: Writing from the Filipino Diaspora - Edited by Luisa A. Igloria. Read more... )

Homelands: Women's Journeys Across Race, Place, and Time - Edited by Patricia Justine Tumang and Jenesha de Rivera. Read more... )

Learn to Play Go: A Master's Guide to the Ultimate Game - Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun. Read more... )

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex - Edited by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. Read more... )

So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy - Edited by Nalo Hopkinson & Uppinder Mehan. Read more... )

Brother, I'm Dying - Edwidge Danticat. Read more... )

Bento Box in the Heartland: My Japanese Girlhood in Whitebread America - Linda Furiya. Read more... )
[identity profile] chipmunk-planet.livejournal.com
This is an interesting book.

Three women (a healer slave in what I guess is 17th century Haiti, an actress in 19th century Paris, and a prostitute in 4th century Egypt) are linked by encounters with a goddess. The story is about their lives and how the goddess assists them and their families at various times.

The goddess/narrator gives the story an almost allegorical tone as she philosophizes about the Ginen (African) peoples and how they spread over the world.

Bring a strong stomach and an open mind. There's alternate sexuality of every kind, violence, and very gritty depictions of life. I literally almost lost my lunch at one scene.

What I liked about the book was how down to earth these very different women were, grounded, even as they each had to make difficult decisions as to how they lived (some decisions didn't turn out well, either, which made it more real).

If you like historical or literary fiction, you'll probably like this book.

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