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A Particular Kind of Black Man

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  29 reviews
A stunning debut novel, from Rhodes Scholar and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, Tope Folarin about a Nigerian family living in Utah and their uncomfortable assimilation to American life.

Living in small-town Utah has always been an uneasy fit for Tunde Akinola’s family, especially for his Nigeria-born parents. Though Tunde speaks English with a Midwestern ac
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Simon & Schuster
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3.98  · 
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 ·  63 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Lark Benobi
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea how to be black...The few times I told my father how I felt he responded the same way: he told me not to worry, that if I worked hard enough and became successful, people would want to be like me. I took solace in his words for many years.

Then I started eighth grade.

Tunde is a second-generation Nigerian-American boy, born in Utah, where the singularity of his blackness gives him no perspective whatsoever on how to be black in America. His parents can't help him--they belong in Uta
Kasa Cotugno
When the very hard decision is made to move to America in search of a better life, it is the hope of immigrants that their children will benefit from such an uprooting by assimilating into the new environment. Tunde's father made such a decision before he was even born, not realizing how wrong the decision to move to a small town in Utah would be for the native Nigerian and his increasingly fragile wife. Tunde does not even realize how different he and his family are until he goes to kindergarte ...more
this was a 4.5 read
thoughts coming shortly
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The hallmark of this work is the creative manner in which Folarin tells the story. He breaks the novel up into sections by switching Tunde’s perspective. The immediate 1st person as he experiences an abusive period in his youth to the directive 2nd person that is used to speak to his naive younger self. And finally, the 3rd person when he finds himself removed emotionally from circumstances that are out of his control. These shifts are not aggravating and they don’t trip up the reader at all, bu ...more
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It wasn’t just the striking cover that attracted me. I’ve always liked immigration stories. Something about trading in one world for another, driven by pure ambitions, aspirations and desperations, hoping against all odds, striving to survive, to fit in, to prosper…I mean, that makes for some great stories. And this is one such story told by a young man who grew up in a Nigerian family in Utah of all places and as such Tunde becomes a person without a clearly defined character. Driven by his fat ...more
**********3.5 Stars**********

I'll admit this began as a page-turner but, somewhere around the halfway mark--when it became clear there was some confusion developing within the core of the main character (which I won't go into detail, due to its importance)--I temporarily lost interest as it became difficult to know what was important.

Tunde painfully longs to understand who he is, and where he fits, in a world he's inherited only by virtue of birth.

His parents, Nigerian-born, arrived in Utah w
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tops
WHY DID THIS BOOK END?!?! Okay so I thought it a memoir 50% in; although, the book clearly states novel on the front but when I tell you, it would TAKE A MOST VIVID IMAGINATION to take someone on a journey like thissssss... there is simply no way that this isn’t a memoir. I enjoyed every moment of this book— there, I will just call it a book ok.

Let me just say that the way he describes things, I am taken back to Homegoing... both authors have a wonderful way with words and analogies that I smil
Nia Forrester
Hands down, and by a mile my favorite of 2019 so far. I'll have to think about this review before writing it. Tope Folarin is a revelation. I started by listening, then bought the print version. Listened, then read, then listened as I read. EXCELLENT narrator, EXCELLENT book. Highly recommended.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tope Folarin's debut novel introduces us to Tunde, a thoughtful and thought-provoking narrator recalling the story of his life—and the search for his identity—even as these goals are distorted by his perhaps faulty memory and his own troubled psyche. The prose reads like butter, a smooth, pleasant, satisfying experience from first page to last. The story is reflective without sentiment, and intelligent without succumbing to the academic. All in all, this is a beautiful book, and I hope it finds ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 21st-c-fiction
Mixed feelings about this. I certainly recommend it, it's a very good debut novel. The first two thirds or so are really effective at immersing you in the childhood of a boy living in an dually alien culture, trying to cope with an immigrant father who isn't allowed to practice his profession and a mother who succumbs to mental illness trying to cope, isolated, in Utah. The narrative is excellent at conveying the various emotional states of fear, fun, uncertainty, anger, tentativeness, invasion ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I didn’t intend to write a review for A Particular Kind of Black Man, but I can’t stop thinking about it since I finished it the other night, so here I am!

APKOBM follows Tunde, a Nigerian American boy, growing up in Utah and Texas during the 80’s and 90’s. With the wide-eyed hope and innocence of a young boy, Tunde starts to learn the realities of the world he’s living in through failed attempts to connect with the people around him. Sold on the beauty and possibilities of the American dream by
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you @simon and @netgalley for the digital galley in exchange for my honest review,

Before I re-read the synopsis I thought this story was the author's memoir. It isn't. I'm sure a good amount of information in this book was inspired by SOMEONE'S real-life coming of age tale. The details were so specific and the events so raw in Mr. Folarin's book that the reader cannot discern the shift between fiction and nonfiction. That's the work of an amazing author, in my opinion.

The book follows a
Never Without a Book™
Jul 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reads like a memoir but it’s not.

A Particular Kind of Black Man by Tope Folarin is a coming of age story that follows Tunde Akinola and his family who migrate from Nigeria to United States in the 80’s. The eldest of two, Tunde lives with his family in a small town in Northern Utah. His father struggles to hold down a job and his mother soon has a mental break. She physically abuses Tunde and on several occasion attempts suicide.

With no other family to help her Tunde’s mother returns to Nigeria
No one fits precisely into a cubby marked this, that or the other.  No one.  So why do we, much like hermit crabs, try to squeeze into one shell after another to see which one fits, to find the one in which we feel at home?  We all do it, but for young Tunde Akinola there are so many shells, so many identities to try and nothing feels like home.  In this coming of age novel, Tunde grows to be a “particular kind of black man”, a first generation African-American, born in the U.S. to Nigerian pare ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This novel moved me very deeply in the way it conveys the coming of age of a boy of African heritage growing up in white Mormon Utah and white small town Texas. Tunde spends his childhood and early adulthood desperately trying to fit into the white culture he is surrounded by while watching his father mother and step-mother struggle financially and emotionally in communities that do not accept them as well a struggling with mental illness.

These emotional struggles within the family – his mother
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
The main character's father "Told me many times he settled in UT because he did not want to be where anyone else was. His cousins and siblings had moved to Athens, London, Rome, NYC. My father wanted to be American but he also craved isolation, so he decided to move to a city he knew nothing about. Try to imagine being a Nigerian transplant in UT in the late 1970's. Be careful what you wish for.

This provides the background for this work. The main character Tunde is the father's child. He has a
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prima debuut, dat mij heel in de verte wat deed denken aan Americanah van Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, hoewel het vrouwelijke perspectief vrijwel ontbreekt. Ja, er zijn vrouwen, nee, je krijgt niet goed mee wat hun motivatie/oorzaak van hun gedrag is. Niet erg, want dat is ook niet de bedoeling van het boek.. het gaat om de hoofdpersoon Tunde en wat hij meemaakt.

De enige bemerking die ik had, is dat het geheel wat onevenwichtig is... veel aandacht voor de begintijd in de VS, en met name de tijd in
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tunde Akinola is raised by his Nigerian immigrant parents in a small town in Utah. It is an isolating and confusing life, but Tunde's father works relentlessly to "make good." His mother, however, loses her mental stability in the insular and racially erasing environment, packs up Tunde and his brother and flees to an urban homeless shelter. Eventually, Tunde's mother leaves her sons in Utah with their father and returns to Nigeria.
Lonely and struggling, Tunde's father realizes that his wife's
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Saw an interview with the author and thought the book sounded intriguing. Was interested by the premise: what is it like to move to a place where no one else looks like you outside of your family and are completely unfamiliar with the place, the people, etc. Tunde is adjusting to life in Utah while his mother, unfortunately, does not. She has schizophrenia and eventually she leaves. Tunde, his brother and dad adjust to life without her and eventually with a new stepmom and step brothers.

I wasn't
b talbot
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
the cover calls this a novel, but it felt more like a combination of a novel and a memoir, which each of those becoming more prominent at different times during the narrative. i really have not read a memoir like this before, in form and structure and content. quite fascinating and engaging.

the narrative also switches between “i” and “you,” as if there are parts where folarin is speaking to himself about himself but also trying to convince himself of his perspective. but which perspective, eithe
Kathleen Gray
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting debut that is not only a coming of age story but also the tale of a young man looking for himself. Tunde's father brought his family to the US from Nigeria in hopes of a better life and without thinking about it at any length, settled them in Utah where they had no tether- no community that looked like them or with similar experiences. HIs mother's mental illness is exacerbated and ultimately, after some harrowing incidents, she returns to Nigeria. His father also makes a trip hom ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved the first part of this book, meeting Tunde, feeling for him and his world. The second part shifted to second-person narration, which I guess was supposed to make me identify with him more? Instead, the writing gimmick took over, distancing me from my experience and feelings so full in the first part. Maybe this is the new writing method, as I've read at least one other novel that took this same narrative path. Then the story swings back to first person, and then third person, then a haik ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A deceptively story of a black boy growing up in Utah and Texas with a struggling father, a mentally ill mother and, later, a harsh stepmother. There's more depth here than is first apparent, and I enjoyed the way Folarin weaves in his themes of memory reality and the importance of stories.

For a great article by Folarin, see:
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this so much more then I did. It took me so long to read such a short book. I did enjoy all of it. Even when it dragged, but I am finding it hard to think of who I could push it on. Goodreads starts 3= I liked it. And I did. The character development of the main characters was good, the writing was excellent, I just did not fall in and need to pick it up when I was done with a chapter. Which is probably my issue and nothing to do with Folarin.
Catherine Wojtkun
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Taken from the reviews...

"...Folarin urges us to think about belonging, family, memory..."

"...emotionally evocative ...the need to belong first begins in the heart..."

"...Tunde world, broken and alive, vivid and painful...a story about exiles and departures..a continual search for what has been in front of us all along..."

This novel makes me think, pause, re-evaluate and ponder about what family, connections, perceptions, and self mean....

May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting story and voice of a family growing up in Utah and trying to make a life against race issues and mental illness.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Nigerian immigrant family in Utah and Texas. Coming of age novel. Imaginative narrative construction. Characters to care about. Beautiful book.
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Thanks Edelweiss Plus for the digital review copy. Recommended!
San Williamson
rated it really liked it
Aug 20, 2019
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