Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

Children of the Street (Darko Dawson #2)
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message 1: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments hello everyone. neither of the library systems i normally use have this book in their inventory, so i thought i'd give you some tips on buying it cheap online.

Abebooks is selling it at some very affordable prices ($2-4 plus shipping).

there is at least one very cheap one at Half.com.

let us know if you find more cheap opportunities! thank you.


Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2042 comments Mod
Thanks, jo!


message 3: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments hi everyone. today we start discussing kwei quartey's Children of the Street. unfortunately, although i ordered the book online more than two weeks ago, i haven't received it yet. i'm sure it's a pretty fast read and i hope to be receiving it within days, so that shouldn't be a problem.

could i ask for a show of hands by those who have read or are reading the book? just so that we know who we are...

also, i read kwei's first darko dawson mystery just a couple of weeks ago and i was struck by its representation of rural african life. i don't know whether the book we'll be discussing represents ghana's rural or urban life, but i wanted to bring up the issue of otherness. there are african books, books that we have read in this group, that don't give me a sense of otherness. take Aminatta Forna's The Memory of Love or Irene Sabatini's The Boy Next Door: A Novel: when i read these books i did not have the same sense of otherness, of difference i had when i read the first darko dawson mystery. the people in the first two novels felts to me very much people like me, unlike the people in quartey's novel.

was it the rural setting? a certain insistence on traits we associate with poor african populations -- simple food, earth floors, outside cooking fires, women carrying weights on their heads, common water fountains? there was something exotic and folkloristic about this novel that i haven't seen in other african novels we read in this group.

maybe, as a jumping point, we could discuss whether people perceived this book as describing people that are very different from contemporary americans -- from us, the readers.

i want to add that there are african books, GraceLand comes to mind, that also focus on poor people. these people, though, are not exoticized, maybe because they are placed in an urban setting.

anyway, i hope you see where i'm going.

in the meantime, happy chatting!


Sarah Weathersby (saraphen) | 261 comments I finished reading the book yesterday, and had to return it to the library, pronto. It's a fast read.

I have visited Ghana twice (2000 and 2007). The first time was as a tourist with Elderhostel, so there was and educational component to the tour.

The second visit, we stayed with my brother who thought he could retire to Ghana. He built a house in Accra, and we stayed with him... me, hubby and a long-time friend who grew up with me.

The book brought back all the memories I had of Accra. I didn't feel an Otherness in reading the book, probably because I had resolved the otherness when I visited Ghana. Accra is a story of extremes, rich and poor, class divisions, modern bustling traffic and shanty-towns, traditional culture and western wannabees, unreliable service of electical power, water, cellular. The book touches on much of those extremes.

My brother, by the way, had to give up living in Ghana due to health issues. While they have universal health care, and competent doctors, their medical facilities are years behind. My brother needed heart surgery that he could not get in Accra.


Columbus (Coltrane01) | 2546 comments Mod
I'm about half done and will finish it ths weekend.


Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2042 comments Mod
I'll try for the weekend also.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I bought Children of the Street. I wanted to read it. Guess what! I received the wrong book in the mail. It's my fault. Didn't use the author's correct name. Now I'm out of funds. Terribly sorry. I hope all of you have an enjoyable discussion.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm finishing up The Cutting Season by Attica Locke. It's been a great read.


message 9: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments hattie, bummer! i hope it was at least a good book!

you might want to put your props for The Cutting Season in the Read and Recommended section.


Adrienna (AdriennaTurner) | 300 comments jo wrote: "hello everyone. neither of the library systems i normally use have this book in their inventory, so i thought i'd give you some tips on buying it cheap online.

Abebooks is selling it at some very..."


Luckily, I did find it and requested it at my library the other day. I hope to get it soon.


message 11: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments Sarah wrote: "My brother, by the way, had to give up living in Ghana due to health issues. While they have universal health care, and competent doctors, their medical facilities are years behind. My brother needed heart surgery that he could not get in Accra"

oddly topical. sorry about your brother and his dreams. thanks for the poignant description of accra.


Rebecca | 386 comments I ordered mine used from Amazon so it coming. I am still trying to finish up NW.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

It's sad to know their Medical world is so far behind.


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
I have Children of the Street and will start reading this weekend (was finishing up NW).

I also read the first book in this series - Wife of the Gods a couple of years ago.

But the delight of this novel is the character, Darko Dawson. Dawson is a very likeable character, but he is not without his flaws. The reader can appreciate his strong sense of justice and how those who commit injustices should be handled. At times, his hot temper will have Dawson using unconventional methods to solve an issue. The reader will forgive Dawson his transgressions and root for him not to be found out. Dawson has a strong need to protect those he loves and his relationship with his wife, Christine, reveals a strong commitment and respect for each other. I hope to see more of their relationship and Christine in future stories.

As Dawson goes through his investigative process, the reader is taken into the lives of the diverse characters that are part of the story. Mr. Quartey effectively uses the characters to portray the modern Ghanaian culture and its contracts; big city/small village attitudes, gender roles, and superstition/witchcraft.

I recommend this well-crafted novel to all mystery readers. While Mr.Quartey's style is all his own, readers who enjoy stories that effectively blend native culture as an integral part of the story will want to get in on this series from the beginning. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series and seeing what Darko Dawson is up to.


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
Hattie wrote: "I'm finishing up The Cutting Season by Attica Locke. It's been a great read."

Yes, it is. I hope to finish my review for The Cutting Season this weekend.


Adrienna (AdriennaTurner) | 300 comments Beverly wrote: "I have Children of the Street and will start reading this weekend (was finishing up NW).

I also read the first book in this series - Wife of the Gods a couple of years ago.

But the delight of thi..."

I take it this is the first book of the series?


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
Adrienna wrote: "Beverly wrote: "I have Children of the Street and will start reading this weekend (was finishing up NW).

I also read the first book in this series - Wife of the Gods a couple of years ago.

But th..."


Yes, Wife of the Gods is the firsr book in the series.


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
Adrienna wrote: "Beverly wrote: "I have Children of the Street and will start reading this weekend (was finishing up NW).

I also read the first book in this series - Wife of the Gods a couple of years ago.

But th..."


Yes, Wife of the Gods is the firsr book in the series.


Adrienna (AdriennaTurner) | 300 comments okay will read on the kindle this weekend.


Trelani Michelle (Trelani_Michelle) | 22 comments finishing up another and will be beginning this book this weekend. Can't wait to participate


Mocha Girl (MochaGirl) | 125 comments Hattie wrote: "I'm finishing up The Cutting Season by Attica Locke. It's been a great read."

I read and reviewed Children of the Street a while back and will rely on memory to participate in the discussion. I, too, am finishing up The Cutting Season (hopefully today).


message 22: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments i was hoping the book would be here yesterday but nope. this thread might as well be about both Children of the Street and The Cutting Season hahaha.

in the meantime, if people want to start, please don't wait for me!


Columbus (Coltrane01) | 2546 comments Mod
Has anyone read any Ghanaian literature in the past? There's been a large representation of other African writers/countries even among our book discussions: Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, & Zimbabwe readily comes to mind. I think Esi Edugyan the author of Half-Blood Blues was born in Canada to Ghanaian parents.

Oh, and keeping with the thread, I picked up The Cutting Season yesterday and will be reading that soon.


message 24: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments Columbus wrote: "Has anyone read any Ghanaian literature in the past? There's been a large representation of other African writers/countries even among our book discussions: Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, & Zimba..."

good question.

and hahahah about Cutting Season. are you listening, bill?


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Has anyone read any Ghanaian literature in the past? There's been a large representation of other African writers/countries even among our book discussions: Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, & Zimba..."

Since I read a fair amount of African writers - I was surprised at how few Ghanaian authors I have read:
Changes by Ama Atta Aidoo
Tale of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parker
Powder Necklace by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

But there is a book that will be released in early 2013 that has been receiving good press and seems to be highly anticipated:
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi


message 26: by jo (last edited Nov 04, 2012 03:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments are the three you have read recommendations, columbus? do you see common threads among them and with the one we are discussing?

since we as a group have covered at least a few african books, i wonder if anyone else sees country/culture threads, in general.


Columbus (Coltrane01) | 2546 comments Mod
jo wrote: "are the three you have read recommendations, columbus? do you see common threads among them and with the one we are discussing?

since we as a group have covered at least a few african books, i won..."


Actually, Beverly read the three books. Beverly did you see any commonalities in them?


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "jo wrote: "are the three you have read recommendations, columbus? do you see common threads among them and with the one we are discussing?

since we as a group have covered at least a few african b..."


When I read books by Africans authors in my mind I usually group the books into the following categories:
- 1st generation authors - lived under colonialism & independence
- 2nd generation writer - who were born after independence
- authors who have lived or currently living outside of Africa writing about Africa

Each of the three books I mentioned are a little different but some of the common themes in the books are:
- the role and expectations of women in society
- the transition and blending from rural life to urban life, traditional mores and modern mores

One other thing to note is that I do not recall the books I have read dealing with the ethnic violence conflicts that I have in other African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Liberia,Rwanda, etc. While it does not mean that there is not discrimination or prejudice but it is not at the same level as the other countries. There is mention of ethnic sterotypes of a particular group but no more to me than we do in the US.

Listopia has a list - Books set in Ghana. Which is a list of 100 fiction and non-fiction books set in Ghana. After looking over the list I see I have read a couple of more books than I thought set in Ghana.


Columbus (Coltrane01) | 2546 comments Mod
Well, Beverly, that gives us a lot to marinate on for a bit. Thanks!

Children is the 1st book, fiction or non-fiction I've read by a writer from Ghana (or about Ghana). I'm about 20 pages from finishing this and I've really enjoyed it.  Detective Darko has the potential to be every bit as endearing and enjoyable to read as Mosely's , Easy Rawlins character - I believe. 

By the way, a co-worker originally from Accra was nice enough to bring me a couple of bottles of Malta (Guinness) -  as you know Darko's favorite elixir. Really tasty and best served chilled!


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Well, Beverly, that gives us a lot to marinate on for a bit. Thanks!

Children is the 1st book, fiction or non-fiction I've read by a writer from Ghana (or about Ghana). I'm about 20 pages from fin..."


I agree with you on Darko. Really enjoying his character. I thought so after reading the first book in the series. Now after reading the second book I wonder why more people are not reading this series.

I would recommend that you read the first book in the series - Wife of the Gods. This book deals more with the conflit of the traditional ways with the modern life and the difference in rural v urban.

According to the author's website - he has drafted the 3rd book in the series and his agent will be shopping to publishers so hopefully can be published in 2013.


Columbus (Coltrane01) | 2546 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Columbus wrote: "Well, Beverly, that gives us a lot to marinate on for a bit. Thanks!

Children is the 1st book, fiction or non-fiction I've read by a writer from Ghana (or about Ghana). I'm about ..."


Beverly, I've heard really good things about the 1st book. I agree, why aren't more people reading this? It's quite accessible, literary with great characters and character development. I'm ordering Wife of the Gods today!


Lady K | 11 comments I'm so glad we chose this book to read for the month of November. I'm currently on page 75 and while I was reading about Hosiah, the Inspector's son, I couldn't help but wonder what was medically wrong with him because his symptoms sound excatly like my symptoms everyday. I cried when the doctor said "if Hosiah ever develops the complications of pulmonary hypertension, it would too late for surgery." I cried because I was diagonsed with pulmonary hypertension back in 2009 and have been struggling with this fatal illness since then. I was told by my doctor that I'm not sick enough for surgery so my name can't go on the lung transplant list yet and by that time it might be to late. I'm staying postive and I can't wait to see how the story ends for Hosiah. November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month thats why I'm so glad we are reading this boook. For those of you who have never heard of it please take a moment and learn about this disease that plaques so many people silently.


Trelani Michelle (Trelani_Michelle) | 22 comments I'm reading this on kindle and I'm 57% finished. I'm loving it thus far. I hate that I didnt read Wife of the Gods first, but it seems not to really matter. Since I'll be finishe with this book before Sunday. I'll start that one then. Enjoying this author. Thanks for the recommendation.


message 34: by Rebecca (last edited Nov 07, 2012 07:22PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rebecca | 386 comments The book makes reference to 2 canals.

Agbogbloshie

http://www.google.com/search?q=agbogb...


Korle
http://www.flickr.com/photos/48722974...

My eyes have been opened. Wow I love Cuthberts hopeful statement at the end of chapter 5.


message 35: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments dear everyone. so glad to see you are discussing the book in happy harmony and contentment. your discussion leader for the month (me) has not yet received the book she ordered almost 4 weeks ago! if i don't get it tomorrow i'll cut my losses and buy the e-version, which i probably should have bought in the first place. keep on enjoying your conversation! i'll join you soon!


message 36: by Rebecca (last edited Nov 07, 2012 08:06PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rebecca | 386 comments jo who did you order from? I hope you can get a hard copy its one you would probably read again.


message 37: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments abebooks. it's a small seller somewhere. i'm going to call them tomorrow. hey, ebooks are with you forever too! and don't take any space!


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
jo wrote: "abebooks. it's a small seller somewhere. i'm going to call them tomorrow. hey, ebooks are with you forever too! and don't take any space!"

Rebecca wrote: "jo who did you order from? I hope you can get a hard copy its one you would probably read again."

Children of the Street was released as a trade paperback. This decision was made to make the book more price assessible for readers. Actually on Amazon the trade paperback is cheaper than the kindle version.

Wife of the Gods was released as a hardcover. Also there was a bigger push for Wife of the Gods so this book may be more accessible in libraries.


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
jo wrote: "abebooks. it's a small seller somewhere. i'm going to call them tomorrow. hey, ebooks are with you forever too! and don't take any space!"

Yes, ebooks are forever and do not take up any space on shelves :)

Do you think Sandy could have impacted the book delay?


message 40: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments beverly, it occurred to me too.


Columbus (Coltrane01) | 2546 comments Mod
Lady K wrote: "I'm so glad we chose this book to read for the month of November. I'm currently on page 75 and while I was reading about Hosiah, the Inspector's son, I couldn't help but wonder what was medically w..."

Lady K, thanks for sharing your personal experience with us. I must admit I was not really familiar with pulmonary hypertension, but I thought Quartey handled it extremely well. At times, authors can be a bit preachy especially if its a subject thats personal to the author or she/he is passionate about in some way. I didn't feel it was too sentimental or mushy at all. The love, care and respect he felt for the street children in the slums of Accra was a direct result of the extreme love he felt for Hosiah. I would be curious to know your thoughts on the handling of this once you've completed the book. And thanks again!


message 42: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments i've got the ebook!


Lady K | 11 comments Columbus wrote: "Lady K wrote: "I'm so glad we chose this book to read for the month of November. I'm currently on page 75 and while I was reading about Hosiah, the Inspector's son, I couldn't help but wonder what ..."

Columbus, I will let you know. I'm curious as well!


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
Not sure if you all know but the author is a medical doctor in CA. Based on the author's blog he does a lot of research into a topic/area before writing about it. He has always shared interesting photos from his reseach. I think all of this shows in his writing.

http://www.kweiquartey.com/about-kwei...


William (be2lieve) | 860 comments Mod
Finished the book today. A pretty good detective/mystery. I don't think much was missed by it being the second book. (the first was on at least one if not 2 previous polls). Perhaps some background that may have given a clue as to why Darko was so empathetic towards the street children was missed. From what I discerned he had a pretty comfortable upbringing, if contentious with his father. So why did he go the extra mile even when upbraided by his superiors for concentrating on the poor kids rather than the oil execs?

I was also pretty amused by the Ghanian attitude toward the use of cannabis. Quite different from ours.


Lady K | 11 comments Beverly wrote: "Not sure if you all know but the author is a medical doctor in CA. Based on the author's blog he does a lot of research into a topic/area before writing about it. He has always shared interesting p..."

Beverly, I didn't know that until just know when I googled him. The reason I'm excited about the PH reference is because there are so many people who don't have a clue that PH exist. So many people are wrongly diganosed with asthma and don't get the treatment they need on time. There aren't that many doctors who are familiar with it either. So it gave me a good feeling to see it mentioned in the story!


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
William wrote: "Finished the book today. A pretty good detective/mystery. I don't think much was missed by it being the second book. (the first was on at least one if not 2 previous polls). Perhaps some background..."

I agree that the 2nd book does stand very well on its own. The murder/mystery topic is different in each book so each book gives the reader a satisfaction of a resolution.

I will not reveal any spoilers as I know you (and others) may be picking up the first book. But Darko's personal life is explored a little more in the 1st bk and some of his actions in the 2nd book will be because of some events in his past.


Adrienna (AdriennaTurner) | 300 comments That's what I wanted to know if we can catch on in the series. I got the eBook from digital library for book 1 and book 2 that we are reading is a physical book I just got a couple days ago. I will see how fast I can read while still finishing the other book read for Sept. I am behind terribly but reading like crazy since I am also a professional reviewer for others...and want to keep up with this discussion as well.


message 49: by jo (new) - rated it 3 stars

jo | 1003 comments adrienna, i think you should not worry about the first darko dawson mystery, myself. we can fill in gaps in case they arise, but Children stands v. well on its own. and yes, i'm finally reading it!


Beverly | 2079 comments Mod
William wrote: "Finished the book today. A pretty good detective/mystery. I don't think much was missed by it being the second book. (the first was on at least one if not 2 previous polls). Perhaps some background..."

My thoughts on why Darko went the extra mile when upbraided by superiors. I think it relates back to why we(or at least I) find Darko a fascinating character. He is not perfect, has his flaws and his demons and is proud of his integrity. While often rubbed the wrong way by laws/protocols in place, Darko learns how to effectively work within them. Loved the scenes when he allowed the nephew of his boss to see the errors he was making without saying "I told you so". Darko wants justice for those who often cannot stand up for themselves or are considered throwaway by society,but because he is very competent at his job understands when to push and not to push. Darko is also very rough around the edges but it is his wife (and son) who smooth those edges out to keep him from being too implusive.


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