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A Taste of Honey: Stories

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  364 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Poignant and powerful, this debut collection from preeminent writer and critic Jabari Asim heralds his arrival as an exciting new voice in African American fiction.
Through a series of fictional episodes set against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent years in modern history, Asim brings into pin-s
ebook, 224 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was expecting a series of short stories with no connection and about completely different topics. What I found was a fantastically written book then weaves the lives of so many people together that I was dizzy trying to keep it straight but what fun I had trying. This touching, insightful, thoughtful, descriptive book had me running down back alleys, rooting for true love and cheering when the horribly racist cop finally gets his doo-wop whooped. While each chapter was a story unto itself, the ...more
Bernard James
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This past week I became a member of the fictional town of Gateway (located in one of the central Midwestern States "I think") during the Spring of 1968. A good book will do that for you: transport you to a time and place where reality is transcended by the strength of your imagination. But in order to pull it off, a writer has to deliver characters with such depth and power that they leap off the page to intrude upon your thoughts long after the book has been set aside. Jabari Asim does exactly ...more
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ter finishing this collection of short stories, I have definitely tasted pure honey. A Taste of JABARI ASIM is truly awsome. Characters like Crisp and Shom are delightful. Chip and Shom have African American historical names. How long has it been since I've heard any one mention Crispus Attucks? He gave his life during the American Revolution massacre. Shom's name is an historial name too.

It's not just the recall of American History in the stories. There is also the moments of e
Johanna Perry
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book so far. A lot of times you can predict where a book is going. Not that this book is suspenseful, just that I don't know where the author will go next and haven't felt that in reading in a long time. Kind of an uncomfortable feeling, but in the best of ways. Good starting back up with your reading regimen book.

Tried hard to stretch this one out lest I couldn't find a good follow-up (suggestions welcome). Very sweet and encouraging. Just wonder if it was too encouraging. This book
Jul 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A novel told in the form of connected short stories about an African-American community on the verge of change in the late '60's. The Jones' family is the main focus: Reuben, the artistic father, Pristine, the mother who holds it all together, Schomburg, the oldest son who is flirting with the new radical Black nationalist movement, and Crispus, the youngest son who features prominently in most of the stories.

The writing is beautiful and captures accurately the voices, actions, and
"The Lord loves a cheerful giver, but I guess I'm just not in the mood." -Aunt Georgia

I'm sorry, but this book is absolutely amazing. I could NOT put it down. I laughed, I commiserated, I clucked my tongue, I snapped my fingers, and I just enjoyed the sheer pleasure of reading this book. It's painful to read at times, and then it'll have you laughing out loud at other times. I related to these characters and felt a sense of enlightenment and sadness for my people. I don't know, it was just nice
Jul 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I loved the compact elegance of this book -- the characters are so vividly drawn, and things come together in a way that tells you about the whole of that place and time. Which is pretty wild, for such a slim book. You learn a lot through Asim's skill at putting things together in a powerful way.

One of the things that struck me most about reading this was the memory of how scary youth can be. When you're a child, you're powerless in a lot of ways. I think that's why I liked the child characters
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Angela by: Go On Girl Book Club
This has to be one of my favorite books from the Go On Girl Book list. The setting invoked memories from my childhood, although I was just born around the time frame of the book. It reminded me of some of my neighbors on my block. I fell in love with the characters. This was a great book. I am glad I purchased it on the Kindle. I don't have to share it with others and worry about what condition my book will come back in. This is definitely a keeper and one I would read again. I generally do not ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of linked stories is probably closer to a novel; few of the stories could stand alone. It reminds me of Ntozake Shange's Betsey Brown in the looseness of its construction and in its intense focus on a very particular St. Louis neighborhood. Though Asim calls it Gateway City, most of the street names and landmarks are given their real names. The book is set almost exclusively in an area of about ten square blocks around Vandeventer Avenue just south of Fairground Park, and it feat ...more
warren Cassell
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This work was a selection of my book club and I probably would not have read it on my own. Fortunately, book clubs lead one to new ways and this was a lovely discovery. “Taste of Honey” is supposedly a collection of sixteen connected short stories, but stands on its own as a fully developed novel. Set in fictitious Gateway City (St. Louis) on the Mississippi River during the sixties, it covers a few months in the lives of a middle class black family living in a segregated section of town. The st ...more
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
I so enjoyed this connected collection of short stories - it really read like a novel. Once I started reading I could not put down and wondered what took me so look to pick up this book. Takes place in a small to mid-sized town in the midwest right before MLK is killed. Great character voices, community and family oriented storyline, used the background of the story to inform us about the political issues of the time. I would love to see these characters again. I surely hope Asim writes more fic ...more
Mocha Girl
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed it: the characters, the neighborhood, the storytelling -- and especially the interweaving/inter-relationships of the characters and plotlines -- very well-done in all areas. It read more like a novel than short stories and I kinda hated to see it end. I hope he revisits the story to keep us updated on Crispus, Ed, and their families, friends, and neighbors.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litlit, horse
Less of a short story collection than a loosely connected novel. I was immediately invested in the inhabitants of these stories, rooting for them in their trials and celebrating every good turn. I'm going to miss them.
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVED this book. The interwoven stories brought all the characters to life. "The Boy on the Couch" made me holler, and "A Taste of Honey" just tied it all together in such a humorous way. Easy to follow along, the writing was crisp and funny. Made for a great story. Definitely one I'd recommend.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful book! I loved all of the historical references, the strong family community and reading this story put a smile on my face. I loved how all the stories fit together so perfectly that it did not feel like a series of short stories it just felt like one great story.
Great book, but quite troubling at times, so I couldn't finish it since I was looking for a lighter literary read. The language flows easily and the characters are easily imagined. I think I'll come back to it eventually.
Nadine Brown
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable quick read. Loved the story plot and character names. There was a nice flow and rhythm to story even with telling end and then back story.
Expect to read more from Mr. Asim.
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly one of the best books I have read all year.
Jai Danielle
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Great book of interconnected stories.
Amanda Morgan
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Touted as a series of short stories, reading this novel as a whole has a much more powerful impact. “A Taste of Honey” is set in a racially divided, imaginary midwestern town, in an African American neighborhood. Some people are happy with what they’ve got, yet most yearn for a better life.
It’s the summer of 1967, and racial tensions are rising. A rash of violence starting with a white policemen beating to death a beloved, blind African-American candy store owner sets this normally quiet neighb
Because the author of Booktini's selected April book (Raised by the Mistress) failed to send our copies on time, we had to quickly choose a short book to read in the two week span before our April meeting. Jabari Asim's collection of short stories centered around a fictional community in the midwest was perfect length-wise. I don't think this was the perfect book for a book discussion, though.

Don't get me wrong. Asim is a great writer, with a fantastic imagination and a knack for storytelling, e
This book was pretty good. Asim has a writing style that is both easy to read and literary, which I can really appreciate. His gift for character-making is strong: his descriptions of their appearances, mannerisms, pasts, all work to make each one so believable, and I really liked the diversity represented by the people in these stories. With the racism of the time period in this setting, some stories were hard to read...violence, harassment, deference. My favorites were the more domestic ones,l ...more
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories is a real gem. I loved how the same characters were threaded throughout each story. It was like one of those really good ensemble movies, where you actually care about each storyline. I really enjoyed Crispus, one of the main characters. Seeing an evolving but still corrupt and dangerous world through the eyes of a young boy, who just wants to be cool like his older brothers and find true love, was refreshing and kept the book moving forward. The author, Jabari A ...more
Mar 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing particularly magical about Asims's prose, but his straight forward telling is reminiscent of a memoir, making the people and stories feel authentic and real. Reminiscent of Diaz, Danticat or even Joyce in his handling of a small circle of people, Asim is different in that you come away from reading about a variety of serious issues feeling full of hope for the characters. As a community, they come through their trials, burnished and strong, full of faith and plans for the future ...more
Oct 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I'm a huge fan of short stories that relate so I was thrilled to find this book by an author unknown to be. The characters are written so well then come to life and fill the pages and the reader can feel a little bit of what they must have felt during such a chaotic time in history. Some of the stories were giving me a hard time, I just felt like they jumped around and made me lost for a paragraph or two. This could be my fault though and something that a second reading would prove valuable. Asi ...more
Mahoghani 23
This book was funny and real. In the day this book was written, it depicted life and how it was. It's amazing how people choose to judge each other based on the color of skin. Rose with the beautiful voice but the abusive husband. Pristine with the loving husband but no backbone to stand up to her mother-in-law's treatment of Crispus. Paul the abusive husband but gambling their money away. Gus, a killer with a soft spot for banana pudding. Charlotte can sense danger but barely escape it. Good st ...more
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I wish I could give this book a higher rating, but it simply didn't suit my reading tastes. It felt disjointed, totally lacking the cohesiveness and smooth transitions that I prefer. Still, there were interesting stories within it, plenty of historical references and characters that rouse the emotions. Not a bad book- just not for me. 2.5 stars.
Mistinguette Smith
Fun, light evocation of growing up in the 60s as the Black Power movement emerged. But it also features young men coming of age in a dangerous time, and how closely danger, corruption and death are intertwined with sweetness and community. Great beach read, esp if you are 40something and the references to hairstyles and commercial products evoke strong memories of your own childhood.
Engaging story and enchanting language. Asim's writing takes you through time and makes the reader feel like they are a member of the Gateway community hearing and telling stories about each others' lives. Asim addresses some deep and important topics in a beautiful and honest way. I've underlined so many passages of flawless description in this collection and I can't wait to read it again.
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Praise for Only The Strong

"Jabari Asim is such an elegant writer that you won't realize how smoothly he drew you in until you're halfway through this book. Humane and humorous, compassionate and willing to get a little rough, this describes both the writer and the novel. Only The Strong does for St. Louis what Edward P. Jones has done for Washington D.C., Raymond Chandler for Los Angeles---marked
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“What y'all ladies got to share? Hmmm, what you bitches got?"

Aunt Georgia sighed and squinted at the boy. She said, "The Lord loves a cheerful giver, but I'm just not in the mood."

The thug moved his hand from his crotch to his scalp, still scratching. "What in the hell's that supposed to mean?" Mrs. Cleveland raised and pumped her walking stick, which, it turned out, was a double-barreled shotgun.

"It means take one more step," she said, "and I'll blast you to hell, you ignorant-ass bastard.”
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