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A Drop of Midnight: A Memoir

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,871 ratings  ·  336 reviews
World-renowned hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité’s vivid and intimate journey through his own and his family’s history—from South Carolina slavery to twenty-first-century Sweden.

Born to interracial American parents in Sweden, Jason Diakité grew up between worlds—part Swedish, American, black, white, Cherokee, Slovak, and German, riding a delicate cultural and racial
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2020 by Amazon Crossing (first published November 7th 2016)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  2,871 ratings  ·  336 reviews

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Powerful, visceral, engaging.

This was one of those ‘universes aligning’ things...when an old white woman stumbles across a book by a young Black Swedish rapper, and even more improbably, is intrigued and decides to read it. And pretty much read it straight through without stopping. This is a strong, raw, urgent book. I have been moved - perhaps changed - by it. And I will be pondering those things for some time to come. I might even listen to some Swedish rap.
Abbie | ab_reads
(#gifted @amazonpublishing) I wasn't familiar with Jason Diakité when Amazon Crossing very kindly gifted me a box of their latest translated offerings, but I was instantly interested in his memoir when I read the synopsis. Born in Sweden to a white mother and a Black father, he grew up Swedish, American, Black, white, with Cherokee, Slavic and German roots too. Even after his career as a rapper took off, 'Timbuktu' still didn't feel like he'd got to grips with his sense of self. Diakité decided ...more
Never spoilers

The entire book meanders with vignettes of stories about Diakité’s family history. He really does not hit his writing flow until about a third of the way into the book. There is also some confusion at the beginning regarding 2015. I am not sure if it a typo but there seems to be a discrepancy in timing (nit picky maybe but I found it confusing enough to go back and reread the first few chapters.

Overall it is a wonderful introspection of a man trying to find and accept his identity.
Brian Andrews
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book that tells stories from Diakite's own life, his parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Drives home the point that racism and slavery have an on-going effect. Made me think about how I'm a product of my parents, who were strongly influenced by their parents . . . and so on. Then you do the math and realize that Diakite's family tree is, relatively speaking, recently affected by slavery and racism. And not just that, but how the oppressors' upbringing is "recently affected" ...more
Josefin Nordlander
I picked this book because I wanted to learn more about racism in Sweden. Turns out the book focuses on US history, although not the reason for my rating. The narrative is jumpy, incoherent and at times even repetitative. It makes it difficult to keep a timeline. As others mention there is a lot of namedropping without any summary of the various authors work or any further reading suggestions. Diakité mentions a meeting with Black Lives Matter activist Mckesson without rewarding him a single quo ...more
Annie Woods
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité is a Swedish hip-hop artist, who grew up with a mixed heritage leaving him in a no-man’s land in constant search for himself. This heartfelt, vivid, raw and superbly written memoir follows Jason on a journey where he strives to find his roots, understand his multicultural self and find his place in the world. Through conversations with his parents, long-lost letters and pilgrimages in his ancestors’ footsteps, this memoir spans from the cotton fields South Carolina slave ...more
Kela Calvin
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I loved this memoir!!! I usually don't read memoirs, but this piqued my interest. The loved how the author was able to trace his family lineage through travels, interviews and conversation with family. Through his life experiences, he has learned to embrace his ethnic backgrounds and skin color. This novel was truly unique. Great read!!!
Donna Bijas
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, own
4 stars. What started as a simile ridden memoir, ended with an uplifting dialogue by the author who was half White, half Swedish, half American and half Black. He talks about the guilt and dysfunction leveled on him and his family for generations and centuries. At least in Sweden where he resided most of his life he was able to work and live and love as he wanted. He and his parents, who did divorce, remained a big part of his life. The end of the book was wonderful where Jason states “My roots ...more
Nick Carey

I began this book hoping to learn about the mixed heritage of the author. It became a book I had to force myself to finish. The author almost completely ignored his Slovak and Cherokee heritage - he seems to only want to focus on his black forebears. He describes their experiences ,but they are theirs, not his. Throughout, there was a self-pitying attitude, and a coldness that made it difficult to feel any rapport with the author. He is very critical of others, but tolerant of hims
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"...I think about how every human, from the time they’re born until the time they die, is a universe of memories, dreams, plans, sorrows, desires, and convictions."

This book is beautiful and heartbreaking and uplifting all at once. Hearing things from Jason's perspective, learning about his family and upbringing, and the struggles that they endured filled me with so many emotions.

Just read the damn book.

And Jason, if you ever read this, thank you for sharing your story. If I can make one reques
John Hatley
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most unusual books I have ever read. After reading in the past year or two books by American authors Ta-Nehisi Coates, Paul Beatty and James Baldwin, I was amazed by this book not least because it tells the same story, but this time the story is being told by Swedish author Jason Diakité. It is the same story, but it is also a very different story. Every human being is unique. Read it!
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I Think this was a a very intresting book. the way it jumps between stories bit Always moving forward. the part of reflection over life colors and diffrent ways of interaction. it was a book that made me reflect on behavior and thougts.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1999 when I was living in Helsinki I discovered Timbuktu via another a Swedish rapper Petter. I was so blown away by Petter’s song Mikrofonkåt that was played every hour. Once he was interviewing this other rapper, Blues, in English about hip hop in Scandinavia. Blues sounded like any Black guy you’d meet in America. Petter him to show off his freestyle skills and dude says he’ll have to do it in his mother tongue, Swedish. It was amazing and how I was first introduced to Svensk hip hop. But ...more
Claire Frances
This book is very good! Jason Diakité is a Swedish rapper and songwriter. His parents are Americans but his father is Black and his mother is white. Before he published this book, he asked himself, "who are my people? Where is my home?" Diakité traveled to meet his family members to research more about his ancestors during slavery time, how his parents met and moved to Sweden, and stories about his ancestors during difficult times (slavery, Great Depression, struggles for freedom, etc.). Diakité ...more
Brenda Feinen
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author struggles with his self image - where does he belong? His parents are from the US - black father, white mother. They moved to Sweden shortly after their marriage - his father wanted to distance his future children from the US' treatment of people of color; to give them a chance at a life without racism, without judgmental misconceptions based on nothing more than the color of skin.
He didn't escape racism - his stories regarding school are an amazing first hand account of not just bul
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
As an American from the south currently living in Sweden, I read A Drop of Midnight with the hope of better understanding race and racism in Sweden. Diakité's memoir was helpful in that regard, in that it provides insights into at least one person's experience reckoning with their identity and heritage. At the same time, much of the book does focus on his experiences visiting family and friends in the US. Details of those experiences felt rather familiar to others I've read or heard about. In so ...more
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like some other reviewers, I chanced upon this (in a special offer) knowing nothing of the author, or indeed of hip hop rapping, but found it a better and more stimulating read than I expected. Ultimately Diakite resolves the problem of his Swedish- American and black-white heritage (with other strains mixed in) by deciding he has to be fully both; but not before he has acknowledged the pain of racism, both for himself and his forbears. The book is particularly strong when he visits the South an ...more
Karna Converse
A lesson about self-discovery and the amount of work it requires for some

I don't listen to hip-hop music so was unfamiliar with Jason "Timbuktu" and his music; I chose this book because I was curious about his desire to learn about his biracial ancestral roots as he navigated his own search for self. His interest in family history begins in Sweden, the country where he was born and raised, but crosses the Atlantic Ocean to New York and South Carolina, the ancestral homes of his parents. Most int
Nancy Dressel
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, must read book for our time

A truly well written and moving autobiography! I loved this book. I am an older white American woman and I just happened upon this book. I wasn't really expecting much--a book written by a hip hop artist? Read it! It's so meaningful, especially considering what is going on in the USA right now. I gained so much insight into Black lives in America through Jason's eyes. I thank him for this beautiful book!
Ayanna Anderson
Effective Personal Search

Diakite shares a personal journey of the lives of three: his own, his father, and his grandfather’s, as he travels between two worlds to ultimately understand that they all share one common experience. I enjoyed how the memoir’s title takes shape towards the end of the text.
Daina (Dai2DaiReader)
I love memoirs and I am so glad I came across this book! The way this story was told was so visual.  The author grew up in Sweden and has a successful hip-hop career but always wondered where he came from.  He takes the reader on the journey to discover his family’s history – going back to the days of slavery in South Carolina and his father’s beginnings in New York.  In tracing his roots, he also had several insightful conversations with his father and mother (an interracial couple).  It was ve ...more
Ralph Guiteau
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing story and an amazing life

I have never heard of Jason Diakete but I feel like I know the man through this book. Like him I am biracial and went through a lot of what he did. I really liked his bio, it made me think, which is all I ask from a book.
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoyed Trevor Noah's Born a Crime, please check out this wonderful memoir by Jason Diakité. He writes with a distinctive voice, engaging and lively, and oh, the stories he has to share.

This memoir is a fascinating journey into a mix of unique cultures, and it was an eye-opening experience for me to see how someone born and raised in Sweden finds the American South on his travels. Spoiler alert: it isn't pretty.

Several times while reading A Drop of Midnight, I laughed out loud. And once,
Katie Prater
Great content, somewhat meandering

Memoir being what it is, a critique of content is a critique of a life, and this was an interesting one to read.

My greatest challenge was the structure of the book—globe and time hopping memoir interspersed with occasional academic references and self reflection, as well as sweeping deToqueville-esque assessments of the state of the US as a whole didn’t always flow. That, to my mind, is a fault in editing, not authorship. Each of the parts of the book should be
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book takes you on a tour of history, and views of historical events had by the author and his family. A drop of midnight, is as you've probably already surmised is speaking about the views of color and skin tone.
He speaks of the various ideas, thoughts, and experiences that he and his family, friends, and people that he met along the way have had. It was interesting reading about his reasoning, and thoughts that he had from childhood to adulthood.
The personal journey taken in his efforts t
Kristyl Harrison
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, but there were also parts that I struggled to get through. As a white parent of a black child seeing how Daikite struggled with his racial identity has helped me further understand some of the issues my child may face.

I know at times that it may seem like racism and segregation happened in the far off past, however Diakite shows that this isn't the case and we really are not that far removed from segregation and racism is still out there rearing its ugly head.

Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Must read!

So good. I cannot begin to tell you how this book actually made me feel emotionally. The journey of discovery, the raw emotion, and the voice all made this book one I could not put down. I will revisit this one.
Colette Kern
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A not to miss memoir

I am grateful that this wide ranging and brilliant memoir was translated from the Swedish . I hope it enjoys huge success in the US and in all English speaking countries. Mr. Diakite writes so beautifully and honestly about his own search for identity, and he has just the right amount of distance and closeness to describe the persistent racism in the US now. I loved his references to African American writers and icons from the past, and the way he weaves these in between his
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, memoirs
This book was available as part of Amazon Prime's First Reads and I picked it up as my monthly pick. I think this is the first time I've actually read the book the same month I've bought it, but man this book was disappointing.

Despite the fact that this book seems to insinuate that Diakite's journey of self-discovery across all parts of his mixed heritage, this is really only about Diakite getting in touch with and exploring his black and African family histories. But even so, the vast majority
Kevin Castro Riestra
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Looking to make sense of his identity as a biracial person, born to American parents, living in Sweden, Diakité sets out to investigate his family's history. His memories of growing up and living in Sweden provide a discerning account of racism and race relations in that predominantly white European country. It's a feeling of being not quite at home in his native country that turns Diakité's gaze towards the past and the United States. His father opposes this investigative urge, motivated by
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English Translati...: Jason Diakité - A Drop of Midnight 1 8 Feb 29, 2020 09:52PM  

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