Literary Fiction by People of Color discussion

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message 1: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments I thought that we might like to have a folder in which we could talk about books we've read recently by authors of color (other than the monthly discussion book) that we would recommend to others. Read anything lately that you particularly enjoyed? Please share your favorites here!

Note to authors: Please don't recommend your own books! We have a "Group Member Requests" folder where you can let us know about your own writing.


message 2: by jo (last edited Aug 30, 2010 09:07PM) (new)

jo | 1031 comments this is a great idea! has anyone read The Cancer Journals, by Audre Lorde? i just read it and i would love to hear what people think. do i recommend it? uhm, not sure. it's tough. if you like tough, though, go and read it.


message 3: by Hazel (last edited Aug 31, 2010 09:24AM) (new)

Hazel | 191 comments It's on my list, jo. Lorde is referred to in some of that criticism you sent me.

I'm reading Elif Shafak's The Bastard of Istanbul now. Not quite my cup of tea, but some might like it. May I also add that I've recently finished Octavia Butler's Lilith's Brood, which I highly recommend. Don't be put off by the idea that it's science fiction. It's not at all stereotypical.

From my review:


This is thoughtful, intelligent science fiction, with interstellar travel, but nary a blaster in sight. I think I'd still consider this hard sci-fi. Butler must have done a great deal of research into genetics, biochemistry, and neurochemistry. She clearly knew a lot about human psychology too.

Her writing is spare, and tight, with few extraneous words/ descriptions. Nevertheless, the world and the experiences she describes are immediate and highly sensual. On this reading I'm struck by all the subtle eroticism. I think Butler was very aware of how much we are governed by our biology, in particular our biochemistry. We tend to forget that. She's also aware of how much we lie to ourselves, or refuse to see unpalatable truths. Perhaps most striking to me, she reminds us how dangerous we can be, when we act out of fear and ignorance.


This thread is a welcome addition, Mina.


message 4: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3770 comments Mod
Mina: I think that's an excellent idea. Quite a few of the books I've read recently and a few of my "to be read" books I selected from some of the LFPC members.

Jo: never read Cancer Journals but I loved her autobiography Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. What a fascinating woman. I suggested it to several friends and they loved it as well.


message 5: by jo (new)

jo | 1031 comments Columbus wrote: "Jo: never read Cancer Journals but I loved her autobiography Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. What a fascinating woman. I suggested it to several friends and they loved it as well."

a fascinating woman for sure. i read Zami some time ago, and i want to reread it. i also want to read a whole lot more of her work.


message 6: by Elatsoe Stan (new)

Elatsoe Stan | 58 comments Charles Chesnutt wrote several very relevant books, but the one I just read on a brother and sister who attempt to pass is entitled The House Behind The Cedars.


message 7: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3770 comments Mod
Leah, 

Did you enjoy the book? I've never read Chestnutt before and interested to know what your thoughts are on the book. I have read other really good books on "passing" and miscegenation such as Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Other Writings by j. Weldon Johnson and the even better Passing by Nella Larsen. Very interesting books @ subject, indeed.


message 8: by Hazel (new)

Hazel | 191 comments Thanks for reminding me of Passing. I've been meaning to read it.


message 9: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3770 comments Mod
Excellent book, Hazel. I liked it even more the second time I read it!


message 10: by Elatsoe Stan (new)

Elatsoe Stan | 58 comments The House Behind the Cedars was a really interesting read. Chesnutt is a very clever writer and there is a lot to read into the book - character names, history, law, etc. It's a really quick read too so it's worth the time. I think it would have easily been a classic in the more canonical sense (like Faulkner, e.g.) if only Chesnutt had not been what was called at the time a 'voluntary Negro' - one who could have passed as white but chose to be known as black.


message 11: by Elatsoe Stan (new)

Elatsoe Stan | 58 comments Speaking of passing, a professor of mine, Maria Sanchez and her colleague Linda Schlossberg edited a book called Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion that focuses on every kind of passing except the typical black-white dynamic. It's interesting to realize that there is other kinds of passing that have happened all through history.


message 12: by Hazel (new)

Hazel | 191 comments Leah wrote: "Speaking of passing, a professor of mine, Maria Sanchez and her colleague Linda Schlossberg edited a book called Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Religion..."

Intriguing, Leah. I think we tend to forget that many of us still need/wish to pass. We've had a couple of scandals here recently, over politicians who allegedly chose to remain in the closet, because they feared it wasn't acceptable to be gay. I find it hard to accept that this is a reality in the 21st century.

Is this a very academic read? Or could a layperson get into it?


message 13: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments I finished Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez this weekend and I would strongly recommend it. I was not caught up in the story initially, mainly because I found the behavior of the main character to be incomprehensible, but then Perkins-Valdez went back to an earlier time and very effectively showed how the complexity of the institution created a young woman with such confused loyalties. I loved the historical detail and the unique setting. A very different look at women in slavery.


message 14: by Elatsoe Stan (new)

Elatsoe Stan | 58 comments Hazel wrote: "Leah wrote: "Speaking of passing, a professor of mine, Maria Sanchez and her colleague Linda Schlossberg edited a book called [book:Passing: Identity and Interpretation in Sexuality, Race, and Reli..."

I would give a try, sure! Some essays are more accessible than others, but you don't have to read it cover to cover by any means.


message 15: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3770 comments Mod
Wilhelmina, I read Wench and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. I was fascinated that the story was based on actual events and the resort where the slaves/owners vacationed is now Wilberforce Univ. So interesting. The novel detailed the many complexities in the lives of the slaves similar to more recent books I've read on slavery: The Book of Night Women and Song Yet Sung to name just two. I had a discussion about this book with a friend who didn't like it as much. He thought there was not much to the story after the novelty of the situation wore off. I didn't think it was such a novelty in that it was based on actual events.  I was totally immersed in the story to the end. An excellent, historical novel that I would definitely recommend.


message 16: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3770 comments Mod
There are only two types of gamblers: the lucky and the broke. 

I just finished reading All or Nothing byPreston Allen and really enjoyed it. The book is a novel but written sort of like a memoir about P (full name never divulged - such as in gamblers anonymous) who has a serious gambling addiction and how it totally affects his life (family, job, friends). Allen does a fantastic job explaining through the protagonist how one can have it all and lose it all in a single night. It's written in a most unusual style that is really refreshing. A slew of really interesting characters, twists and really satisfying ending that will keep you entertained for sure. For those who are curious about gambling and how one can become addicted, read this book.

I picked up this book after reading several excellent reviews of his most current book, Jesus Boy All of the available copies were checked out of my local library and after 5 months a copy still hadn't appeared so I figured I would take a chance on one of his earlier books.  So glad I did. Now if I can finally get a copy of Jesus Boy.


message 17: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3770 comments Mod
Anyone else read or reading any books by POC you would
like to share?


message 18: by Rashida (new)

Rashida | 264 comments Recently finished Ilustrado: A Novel by Miguel Syjuco. It was difficult. I think a prime candidate for a discussion, because there are so many layers and depths and multiple storylines going on. But it was really excellent. Syjuco has some beautiful language and his characters worm themselves under your skin before you realize it.

Here's a link to my review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


message 19: by Elatsoe Stan (last edited Dec 28, 2010 12:43PM) (new)

Elatsoe Stan | 58 comments Great! I'm in the middle of reading Ilustrado right now. Very different from any Asian American book I've read before it, though my 'new' AA favorite is still Through the Arc of the Rain Forest by Karen Yamashita. Ilustrado has a lot going on there - I agree it would be a great one to discuss.


message 20: by Fodowo (new)

Fodowo | 8 comments Wilhelmina wrote: "I thought that we might like to have a folder in which we could talk about books we've read recently by authors of color (other than the monthly discussion book) that we would recommend to others. ..."

I would like to recommend Walter Mosley's "Last Days of Ptolomy Gray". It is about a 92 year old suffering dimentia who is given his mind back for a few weeks and a young girl who helps him put his life back in order. I have been told that this theme has been done before but this has Mosley's special insights into the Black community.


message 21: by Hazel (new)

Hazel | 191 comments Ernestine wrote: "I would like to recommend Walter Mosley's "Last Days of Ptolomy Gray". It is about a 92 year old suffering dimentia who is given his mind back for a few weeks and a young girl who helps him put his life back in order. I have been told that this theme has been done before but this has Mosley's special insights into the Black community. ..."

Ah! This is one of my Christmas presents, and I hadn't heard about it. Thanks, Ernestine.


message 22: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is high on my to-be-read list. I love Walter Mosley, but his writing varies a lot - I'm glad to hear that this is a good one!


message 23: by Hazel (last edited Jan 13, 2011 11:27AM) (new)

Hazel | 191 comments May I mention Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands? I confess, it's not fiction, and I haven't read it. :-) But a friend of mine recommends it highly, and I thought some of you might be interested in this 19th century memoir of a Caribbean woman who was a contemporary of Florence Nightingale. Plus I'm told you can get it free on Kindle!


message 24: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments Thanks, Hazel! Sounds interesting!


message 25: by Trudy (new)

Trudy (goodreadscomtrudyspages) | 58 comments I just finished "Before I Forget" by Lenoard Pitts. On the surface, it's about a 49 yaer old man's decent into the world of Alzheimer's disease. However, it's more about the relationships of men (young, middle aged, and senior)among themselves and their families. Warning: it is raw in language and emotion, at times. But, Mr. Pitts uses these to unfold an amazing story of fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers. Definately, 5 stars, to me.


message 26: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments Trudy wrote: "I just finished "Before I Forget" by Lenoard Pitts. On the surface, it's about a 49 yaer old man's decent into the world of Alzheimer's disease. However, it's more about the relationships of men (y..."

5 stars for me too, Trudy! This was one of those books that I wanted to convince everyone I could find to read!


message 27: by Elatsoe Stan (new)

Elatsoe Stan | 58 comments Is this the same Leonard Pitts who wrote for the Miami Herald? I enjoyed reading his articles.


message 28: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments Same one, Leah. It really is a wonderful book


message 29: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Albin | 24 comments I really enjoyed Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. Takes place during the late 1700's in Haiti over a 40 year time period. A long book but well worth the read.


message 30: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Albin | 24 comments Wilhelmina wrote: "I thought that we might like to have a folder in which we could talk about books we've read recently by authors of color (other than the monthly discussion book) that we would recommend to others. ..."

Good idea!


message 31: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments Barbara wrote: "I really enjoyed Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende. Takes place during the late 1700's in Haiti over a 40 year time period. A long book but well worth the read."

I'm looking forward to reading it, Barbara!


message 32: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Albin | 24 comments I listen to it on audible, otherwise I would have sent it your way. I like this idea of yours, a little easier to figure out what books might fit for me. Thanks.


message 33: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments Just a reminder that all requests and book information from authors about their own work should be placed in the "Member Writings and Requests" folder. Veronica E., I moved your post to that folder. I'm sorry that the arrangement of folders wasn't clear.


message 34: by jo (last edited Apr 19, 2011 11:35AM) (new)

jo | 1031 comments susan choi's American Woman is a fantastic retelling of the patty hearst abduction from the p.o.v. of a japanese-american woman (wendy yoshimura in real life). it builds up slowly, with great precision and tension, and ultimately examines super smartly issues of americanness and revolution. truly a masterpiece.


message 35: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments Putting in my order now, jo!


message 36: by jo (last edited Apr 20, 2011 10:10AM) (new)

jo | 1031 comments the gods of good books are being very kind to me. i'm reading jackie kay's Trumpet and... wow. it's so good i don't even need to finish it to recommend it. has this book ever been in one of our book-of-the-month polls? i can't remember.


message 37: by Fodowo (new)

Fodowo | 8 comments I did not like Wench. The author thought it a good idea to write a fictional tale of the enslaved women that came to this resort? The story of a young girl, molested as a child, raped at 13 and kept as a sex slave for the rest of her life was hard to read. (I only did it for my book club). The depravity of the men and the women who were their captives did nothing to further the discussion of slavery. The only bright spot was that a couple of folks excaped.


message 38: by Hazel (new)

Hazel | 191 comments Kay is marvellous. She was half of a famous couple of poets here. Her partner is/was Carol Anne Duffy. they're both well-respected.


message 39: by jo (new)

jo | 1031 comments i didn't realize she had died. have you read her poetry, hazel?


message 40: by ColumbusReads (new)

ColumbusReads (coltrane01) | 3770 comments Mod
Jo, thanks for bringing Trumpet: A Novel back to my attention. Another LFPC member had suggested this book previously and I had totally forgotten about it. I just asked a couple of friends to read it with me for a discussion in the park. Oh, and I think the author is still with us according to wikipedia.


message 41: by jo (new)

jo | 1031 comments columbus, suddenly i feel like i need to know absolutely everything about your discussions in the park. :)


message 42: by Hazel (new)

Hazel | 191 comments I believe they may no longer be a couple. :-)


message 43: by Rashida (new)

Rashida | 264 comments Trumpet was in a poll. Maybe the one the Suffocate won??? Don't remember, but I think I voted for it.


message 44: by jo (new)

jo | 1031 comments ha. glad to know! thank you.


message 45: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 2049 comments Thanks, Chelsea!


message 46: by Blue (new)

Blue (topazamber) Yep, I luv Bernice McFadden's books. I read Sugar a long time back. I fell in luv with it. Glorious is also good.


message 47: by Blue (new)

Blue (topazamber) Leah wrote: "The House Behind the Cedars was a really interesting read. Chesnutt is a very clever writer and there is a lot to read into the book - character names, history, law, etc. It's a really quick read t..."

Sounds interesting.


message 48: by Blue (new)

Blue (topazamber) Wilhelmina wrote: "I thought that we might like to have a folder in which we could talk about books we've read recently by authors of color (other than the monthly discussion book) that we would recommend to others. ..."

I'm reading A Love Rekindled by Myne Whitman. The story is told in flashbacks. Part of the novel takes place in Africa, Abuja, Benin, Lagos and part in the United States.


message 49: by William (new)

William (be2lieve) | 1288 comments Mod
Split Milk by Kopano Matlwa. An allegorical tale of the new South Africa as told mostly through the eyes of a group of preternaturally mature 10 year old students. The metaphors are not subtle and the story short and straightforward but its such a refreshing change from the hundreds of war torn Africa as victim tomes.


message 50: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Albin | 24 comments I am listening to Purple Hibuscus on CD by Chimamanda Ngozi Adidne and all I can say is that it is great. It is a story that follows the life of a youger girl and her brother (and family) in Nigeria. The obsession with religion vs. the old ways plays a major role in the story. I probably will finish it tonight and just started 4 days ago - and that is with listening where you can quick read!


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