What African/African American Literature are you reading now?

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What African/African American Literature are you reading now?

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Aug 19, 2013, 7:00 am

I'm reading Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett. The idea of the book—people with special powers—is not new certainly, but an intense, first person narrative that is very self-reflective, drives the action-packed story forward. I'm finding it compelling in spots. I'm afraid I'm only reading it in small doses though.

Aug 20, 2013, 8:40 am

I finished Massacre River by René Philoctète on Sunday, a novel about the 1937 Parsley Massacre in the Dominican Republic close to its border with Haiti, in which tens of thousands of Haitians were brutally murdered in a six day period. Dominican soldiers and citizens were armed with machetes, and people in the border towns would be shown a sprig of parsley and asked what it was. The Spanish word for parsley is perejil, and those who spoke Haitian Creole often mispronounced this word, so anyone who could not say perejil was beheaded on the spot or taken away for execution by a firing squad. The primary characters in Massacre River are a young married couple, a Dominican man and a Haitian woman, who are deeply in love with each other, and the novel mainly concerns the close relationship between Haitians and Dominicans and the lives of the average person, rather than focusing on the details of the massacre. Philoctète was one of the most famous and revered authors in Haiti, although he is not well known outside of his country, as this is the only book of his that has been translated into English.

So far I've read 12 novels by authors from the African diaspora this year:

1. Big Machine by Victor LaValle
2. Philadelphia Fire by John Edgar Wideman
3. Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah
4. All My Friends by Marie NDiaye
5. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
6. No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe
7. The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna
8. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
9. The Amen Corner by James Baldwin
10. A Season in the Congo by Aimé Césaire
11. Dark Heart of the Night by Léonora Miano
12. Massacre River by René Philoctète

I'll post the reviews I've written on my thread in this group shortly.

Edited: Aug 20, 2013, 3:12 pm

I haven't read as much as I would like this year, but right now I'm reading Memoirs of a Porcupine by Alain Mabanckou, a Congolese author. The Reading Globally theme read on Francophone countries outside Europe spurred me to read this book, which has been on my TBR for some time, and also Xala by Sembene Ousmane (Senegalese), Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane (Senegalese), and The Seven Solitudes of Lorsa Lopez by Sony Lab'ou Tansi (Congolese).

Edited: Oct 29, 2013, 2:30 pm

I'm reading The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat. Like Massacre River noted above, it is set in the 1937 Parsley Massacre. It's a story about Haitians who were living in the Dominican Republic and tried to escape back to Haiti during the Massacre. Some of them made it; many did not. Beautifully written and tragic.

Aug 30, 2013, 8:18 am

I just finished the heartbreakingly beautiful tale of four generations of Guadeloupean women, The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart.

Oct 26, 2013, 4:47 pm

Looking back at my reading this year, from the African diaspora I've read:

The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett (2011, US)
A Bit of Difference by Sefi Atta (2013, Nigeria/US/UK)
All My Friends by Marie Ndiaye (2013, France, short fiction {father is Senegalese})
Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah (1992, Zanzibar/Tanzania)
Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto (2009, T 2012 Mozambique)

And made it 2/3rds of the way through Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche before I put it down (2013)

Hey, Darryl, we have 2 2/3rds books on our lists in common

>3 rebeccanyc: Rebecca, I think I must have missed your comments on the Manbanckou back when (must remember to chase them down).

Oct 26, 2013, 5:15 pm

I keep forgetting to post here. I've read two more books by Mabanckou, Broken Glass and Bleu Blanc Rouge and Oil on Water by Helon Habila, a Nigerian author now living in the US.

Edited: Oct 27, 2013, 5:51 am

So far this year, I've read:
Passing by Nella Larsen
L'accordeur de silences (Tuner of Silences) by Mia Couto
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Black No More by George S. Schuyler
Clotel; Or the President's Daughter by William Wells Brown
Demain j'aurai vingt ans (Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty) by Alain Mabanckou
Hitler's Black Victims: The Historical Experiences of European Blacks, Africans and African Americans During the Nazi Era by Clarence Lusane
Œuvre poétique (Collected Poetry) by Léopold Sédar Senghor
Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston

I'm planning on reading more of Alain Mabanckou and Nella Larsen.

ETA: And how could I forget Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau? It was one of my favourite reads of the year!

Edited: Oct 27, 2013, 5:49 am

Since my last post I've read three more books from the African diaspora: The Return by Dany Laferrière, Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty by Alain Mabanckou, and We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo.

Oct 27, 2013, 2:33 pm

>6 avaland: why did you put americanah down after getting that far through it? i've been looking forward to reading it...

Edited: Dec 6, 2013, 3:58 pm

>10 overlycriticalelisa: Apologies for the belated response. I don't pop in here very frequently. I know the book has received great praise from all the "right" places, but I could not help but think that this was not her best work. Here are my comments on it posted in another group, such as they are.

Having been a fan of Adichie since the beginning, I was giddy to have been given a reader's copy of this latest. Now, it could have been the demands of life at the moment, but I read about half or two-thirds of it before, disappointed, I put it away. Perhaps, I will pick it up again at some later time, I thought. I haven't.

Adichie is a great storyteller with an easy style, and I liked her character Ifemelu immediately. The first thing I noticed was how two dimensional the Americans were in the story - the woman who hired her as an au pere (and the woman's sister), and the rich guy she has a relationship with. OK, I thought, perhaps there's a message there; she's turning the tables around (let's do the white Americans in 2D and see how you like it). I read on. While the story is engaging, I found it too "in-my-face" and felt myself being overtly manipulated. As I set the book aside (and even now), I ask myself why I may not have liked it:

Was it the mood I was in?
Was it because I couldn't identify with the Americans she cast?
Was it because I had just read the much more subtle Sefi Atta novel?
Was it because there is more 'telling' than 'showing' because of the blog?
Was it because it came across as a much more "commercial" book?
Was it because I was offended in some way by the things she is saying?

Possible answers: Maybe, possibly, possibly, possibly, likely not, and then there's the last question. No, I was not offended by the things Ifemelu (or the author) was saying, as much as how she was saying it. I wondered was I really her intended audience, or was her overt approach intended for a less cosmopolitan reader? I work really hard to read broadly and see myself and my world as others might see me/it, and I didn't appreciate being hit over the head.

Anyway, there it is.


On another note, I just recently finished the very, very excellent Waiting for an Angel, Helon Habila's first novel.

And I finally finished I Still Believe Anita Hill, edited by Amy Richards. This is a wonderful book of thoughtful essays and recollections from the hearings, from many perspectives.

Dec 6, 2013, 7:01 pm

>11 avaland:

thanks for that. i'll definitely still be reading it (one day) and will try to keep this in mind, especially if i have problems with it...

Jan 24, 2014, 1:02 pm

I've recently read The Forest of a Thousand Daemons by D. O. Fagunwa, the first novel written in Yoruban, and The Radiance of the King by Camara Laye. Both were intriguing and very enjoyable.

Feb 23, 2014, 12:00 pm

I just finished Chinua Achebe's wonderful and classic African Trilogy.

Feb 28, 2014, 9:15 pm

I just finished The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat. It's a collection of related stories (loosely, you could call it a novel) about Haitians and Haitian immigrants. Beautiful writing and Danticat really delves below the surface.

Mar 11, 2014, 10:25 am

I finished Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi, a British writer of Nigerian heritage. It's a novel that mixes reality and fairy tales, and explores issues of identity.

Mar 11, 2014, 6:38 pm

I've just started Petals of Blood by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.

Mar 16, 2014, 1:28 pm

I finished The Interpreters by Wole Soyinka, a novel about a group of friends trying to make their way in recently independent Nigeria.

Mar 18, 2014, 10:21 am

I'm half-way through Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and loving it. It's funny, generous, intelligent, and definitely one of my favourite novels so far this year!

Since my last post, I've also read Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Riwan, ou, Le chemin de sable by Ken Bugul and No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe, all of which I liked.

And finally, although they might be out of the scope of this thread, as the authors are African-European rather than African or African-American, I read La condition noire : Essai sur une minorité française (non-fiction book about the history and sociology of Black people in France, whether they're French citizens or immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean) by Pap Ndiaye, brother of novelist Marie Ndiaye, and Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi.

May 30, 2014, 10:56 am

I read the fascinating Middle Passage by Charles Johnson, which has been on my TBR since 1991!

Jun 10, 2014, 4:08 pm

about to start going to meet the man and am so excited because james baldwin is one of my absolute favorites. and i've never read his short fiction. yay!

Aug 3, 2014, 5:27 pm

I just finished Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique, a writer from the US Virgin Islands; it definitely cast a spell on me.

Apr 19, 2015, 5:58 am

It's been ages since I've posted in this group, but I've just started The Turner House by Angela Flournoy, a family story set in Detroit.

Other appropriate reads thus far this year: Toni Morrison's God Help the Child, which I enjoyed very much, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All be Feminists (from a TED talk).

Sep 11, 2015, 3:49 pm

Not doing well this year. I'm reading The book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor.

I've also read Land of love and drowning by Tiphanie Yanique and have a copy of The Turner House on my TBR pile.

Jun 1, 2016, 9:29 am

Is anyone still here?

Lately I've been reading poetry...

1. May Ayim (An Afro German writer...)
2. Jericho Brown's The New Testament
3. Warsan Shire's teaching my mother how to give birth
4. Danez Smith's (insert) boy
5. Rickey Laurentiis's Boy with Thorn

Recently I was moved by Pearl Cleage's Mad at Miles

Right now I'm reading F.B. Eyes about FBI surveillance of Black writers and intellectuals since the Harlem Renaissance.

One of these days I'll go back to reading fiction...

Jun 21, 2019, 12:02 pm

I've just started reading Friday Black, an acclaimed new collection of short stories by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

Jul 6, 2019, 8:17 am

I'm reading The Poor Christ of Bomba by Mongo Béti, a 1957 classic criticising European colonisation and missionary work in Africa.

Jul 7, 2019, 10:00 pm

I'm reading Killing Rage: Ending Racism by bell hooks. The book is comprised of 21 essays in which hooks exhorts black people to think critically about race, life, and to be aware of what's what.