Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

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message 1: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3684 comments Mod
Our book for December is The Coming by Daniel Black. If I'm not mistaken we've discussed one if not two of his books previously. Has anyone started? Any takers to lead a discussion? I think it's still $4.99 on Kindle and IBooks. Possibly B&N as well.


message 2: by Samuel (new)

Samuel Hall (samuelchall) | 5 comments Good afternoon all. If anyone of you are in NY, Daniel Black will be giving a reading on Monday Dec. 7th @ the Mist Cultural Center in Harlem. It begins at 7pm.


message 3: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 33 comments The book begins with very rhythmic, lyrical prose. The first few pages read like a love song. I'm curious to see if this style continues throughout the story.


message 4: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 386 comments I have started it. I like the lyrical prose but if it's the whole way through I think I will soon get uninterested and it won't be as profound to me as it continues. Maybe not though will see. I was looking this type of lyrical prose from Morrison in God help the child.


message 5: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 33 comments Rebecca wrote: "I have started it. I like the lyrical prose but if it's the whole way through I think I will soon get uninterested and it won't be as profound to me as it continues. Maybe not though will see. I wa..."

It seems to continue throughout, and tho' at times it wears thin and I start to skim, there are always passages that re-engage me.


message 6: by Monica (new)

Monica (monicae) | 447 comments Looking forward to the discussion on this one. I wanted to like this more than I did...


message 7: by Karen Michele (new)

Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 220 comments I finished yesterday. I liked the writing and I did feel it was successful at drawing me in. I felt some elements of the horrific passage more viscerally reading from the collective "we" point of view. I agree, though, that it wore on me a bit by the end and didn't end up moving me as much as I thought it might when I started.


message 8: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
My plans are to start the book tonight.


message 9: by Louise (new)

Louise | 138 comments I have only read the first 20 pages but hope to read a lot more today. So far I really like the style.


message 10: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 33 comments The prose style used makes it feel like a fable to me, which ordinarily I would really enjoy, but in this case I'm afraid it takes away the edge of the reality of the anguish and pain of the story.


message 11: by Louise (last edited Dec 06, 2015 05:43PM) (new)

Louise | 138 comments The style reminds me a lot of Tim O'Brien's opening chapter in The Things They Carried


message 12: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3684 comments Mod
Thanks for all the comments everyone. I don't own the book myself and my library has opted not to purchase this one at least not yet. I need to set a reading schedule so for those with the book can you tell me if it's broken up into sections of any kind? Or, let me know how many pages and maybe I can slice it into 1/3 or 1/4.

How does this compare to his previous books? I didn't care for Perfect Peace at all but really, really enjoyed They Tell Me of a Home. Perfect Peace was quite successful I understand and he could have continued along those lines with his follow-up and he didn't. Seems like all of his books are quite different from each other. I like that.


message 13: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3684 comments Mod
Short reader review of The Coming (video). I like this...

http://youtu.be/QkGjo9czrhA


message 14: by Louise (new)

Louise | 138 comments My ebook is divided into three parts. Part I is 107 pages. Part II is 55 pages and Part III is 131 pages. Hope this helps.


message 15: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 33 comments There was mention in the novel that it was necessary to keep the story of the coming alive for future generations, and so I wondered if Daniel Black was giving a fictional account of an oral history that he had heard.

While the descriptions of the horrendous conditions and treatment were impactful and difficult, I was more touched by the evidence of bonding and the unifying between the different peoples & clans (this was mentioned in the video and reminded me). That their salvation came from the group humming and drumming, which gave them a place to share & express, seemed profoundly real to me... made me feel as if this was less a fiction and more a truth.


message 16: by Louise (new)

Louise | 138 comments The humming scene touched me as well. I could hear it. They came from different tribes, different languages, were different people yet they hummed to show their solidarity and it mounted a shield around them, protected their spirit regardless of what was done to them physically, they were at one together.

Here is a touching story about humming in slave ships.

https://taoofthewriter.wordpress.com/...


message 17: by Louise (new)

Louise | 138 comments Here is a QnA with Daniel Black, not about The Coming, but just a general QnA, for anyone interested.

https://youtu.be/fIp0AR6HeRE


message 18: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3684 comments Mod
Thanks much Louise that helps.

Reading discussion:

Part 1: Begin today through - December 13th
Part 2: December 14th - December 18th
Part 3: Entire book open as of December 19th



message 19: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "Thanks for all the comments everyone. I don't own the book myself and my library has opted not to purchase this one at least not yet. I need to set a reading schedule so for those with the book can..."

Columbus -

My library also did not have The Coming.

Since you liked They Tell Me of a Home you might like the follow-up book Twelve Gates to the City.

And yes he does write an various subjects relating to AA experience.

I would say that Daniel Black's popularity is an example of word-of-mouth and black bookclubs buzz.

I would say that his writing style reminds of a Griot. His writing style reminds me of oral storytelling knowing the history and tradition, able to talk to current events/situations and use humor, gossip, wit to make statements/comments he was the reader to know.


message 20: by Monica (new)

Monica (monicae) | 447 comments Beverly said: "I would say that Daniel Black's popularity is an example of word-of-mouth and black bookclubs buzz."

And church groups. This observation actually illuminates or rather helps me put some of my perceptions into context.


message 21: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 33 comments Beverly wrote: "His writing style reminds me of oral storytelling..."

Yes, absolutely. Once I caught on to that, I was able to enjoy the experience of The Coming much more.


message 22: by Louise (new)

Louise | 138 comments I know we're not discussing part II yet but I did want to share one line that is in keeping with what Beverly and Janice are saying.

"Some of us were writers, too, but, as a people, we were masters of the spoken word. Our crowning feature was our storytelling."

And I agree that this book is written very much in a story-telling style. I can even picture Black shouting it from the pulpit.


message 23: by Blue (new)

Blue (topazamber) Thank you for the recommended book title. Will read discussion from time to time. Unable to participate.


message 24: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
Louise wrote: "I know we're not discussing part II yet but I did want to share one line that is in keeping with what Beverly and Janice are saying.

"Some of us were writers, too, but, as a people, we were maste..."


Yes, it is a shame there is not an audio book for this title.
With the right narrator this book could soar.


message 25: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 12, 2015 07:44AM) (new)

I felt very emotional about the humming scene. I have read other books or articles about slave ships. Never heard about slave hummers until Daniel Black's book. While going through a time of emotional upset I found great peace in humming. I especially liked to hum the spiritual, Balm of Gilead. I can only imagine the power found in humming for each slave.


message 26: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 12, 2015 07:58AM) (new)

Louise, thank you for the link about humming.


message 27: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 13, 2015 03:27AM) (new)

The author speaks about memory as a refuge. "Refuge" is the word used by Daniel Black. The captives had so many special places to go in their minds as they experienced the horrors of violence, illness and death.

They remembered their names. There was the wonderful feeling of calling out to one another on their own land as friends. It especially felt good to read the meanings of their names in The Coming. These people were not throw away people. They had been loved deeply as we are loved by our parents and grandparents and...


message 28: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3684 comments Mod
Today begins the discussion of Parts 1 & 2. The entire book will be open as of December 19th.

Any thoughts?


message 29: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
So far I have only read Part 1.

I thought that the author laid it out in a manner that he is relating the history the Africans were captured and the process they undertook as the reality of their situation sunk in and understanding that survival will be important for their future generations to live on.

And this is how the history should be passed down from generation to generation.

I liked how the author broke it down by blocks of days and what the thought process the captured were going through on an individual basis and on a group basis. How they knew it would be up to them to pass down customs, traditions, and values from generation to generation so the most current generation has a full understand of their heritage.


message 30: by Blue (last edited Dec 17, 2015 09:28AM) (new)

Blue (topazamber) Janice wrote , There was mention in the novel that it was necessary to keep the story of the coming alive for future generations, and so I wondered if Daniel Black was giving a fictional account of an oral history that he had heard.

I felt the part about storytelling very important as well. Jali, I think, is the storyteller. It's very important that the story of the strained and terrible slave journey is written about over and over again. Untold stories soon become forgotten stories.


message 31: by George (new)

George | 759 comments perhaps, although I think it's more likely he's trying to create a unifying mythos for Black America, an e pluribus unum story from the Black perspective. I would certainly agree that it's very important that the story is told over and over, but I don't think this story has the specificity likely to make it anyone's personal story, it's more everyone's story, by intent.


message 32: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3684 comments Mod
No spoiler's as of today. Entire book open.

What's your final thoughts on this book? Do you feel the author accomplished his mission - whatever that may be? Any comparisons to his previous books? Would you recommend it?


message 33: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
George wrote: "perhaps, although I think it's more likely he's trying to create a unifying mythos for Black America, an e pluribus unum story from the Black perspective. I would certainly agree that it's very imp..."

I agree with what you said - I cannot quite find the right word but to me it was like an "everyman/declaration".


message 34: by Beverly (new)

Beverly | 2864 comments Mod
Columbus wrote: "No spoiler's as of today. Entire book open.

What's your final thoughts on this book? Do you feel the author accomplished his mission - whatever that may be? Any comparisons to his previous books? ..."


I finished this book last night.
While I will admit that I am not a big fan of his previous works (my fav is Perfect Peace) - his previous fiction dealt with the psychological and physical effects of racism, slavery, status, class and the survival and coping mechanisms as told through the individual characters. Also community was also important in his previous books.

The Coming to me was a different style from his previous books.
Several thoughts I had while reading this book:
- I often felt that this was written like Black had something to get off his chest and needed to say. It was almost like he was saying these are "facts" you need to know/understand if you are coming to comprehend/understand what has/is happening about the legacy of slavery from the Black pov. This needs to be understood if we are going to have any meaningful conversation about racism and related issues.

- I liked how he included the different namings of the African ethnic groups and what was similar in the different cultures and how this united all of the them.

- I thought Daniel Black did a good job of showing the process of the mind over the course of the voyage to make sense of what was happening to the enslaved Africans. He definitely made it an universal story that applies to all enslaved Africans and also as individuals.

- This is definitely a primer of looking at the Transatlantic Slave Trade - not necessarily looking at the reasons why but looking the beginnings on how the United States began to codify processes as it evolved into a slave culture.

I thought this book should be included in school libraries and more of the history in this "fiction" book should be incorporated as students history classes.

If Daniel Black was attempting to write an Everyman's story on the journey of enslaved Africans and their indoctrination into American slavery then I think he accomplished his goal.


message 35: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 33 comments Beverly wrote: " It was almost like he was saying these are "facts" you need to know/understand if you are coming to comprehend/understand what has/is happening about the legacy of slavery from the Black pov. This needs to be understood if we are going to have any meaningful conversation about racism and related issues..."

I had the same feeling. I now have a much bigger picture, and perhaps even a better understanding of the slavery experience, especially concerning the relationships within the community of slaves, and between ethnic groups.

Good summary Beverly, you commented on some important points.


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