Monday, August 3, 2015

Short Stories On Deck Part 1!


I'm loving short stories right now! I didn't think I Iiked short stories until I read Krik!Krak? by Edwidge Danticat over a year ago and that started to change my mind. I read a few more collections, but then after reading How to Escape from a Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique, I was sold. I've been digging through my books in search of more and was surprised that I have so many. Here are a few short story collections that I've read and others that I'm excited to read.


Friday, July 31, 2015

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black


I bought If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This from the Borders going out of business sale in 2011. I had pretty much forgotten about it until I did a search for a different book and found this one on a list of 5 Must-Read Short-Story Collections. So I got right to it.

I really enjoyed this book, not because it's so good, but because it's so spot on. I wouldn’t describe it as upbeat or exciting. And it doesn't really have cliff hangers. It feels more like an exposé. It's about people: families, friends, and their issues. It's a look inside the "perfect" families, the "perfect" friendships, and the revelation that things aren't so perfect at all.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Part 2 Recap: Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival (Bocas Lit Fest)


I gave another peek inside my Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival experience in my summation of The Star Side of Bird Hill. In addition to meeting Naomi Jackson, I had brief interactions with several other authors, including Olive Senior. 

I stayed in the same hotel as most of the authors and when I was heading to the festival the first day, I had no idea how to get there. A small group of authors was gathered, waiting for their shuttle and suggested I come with them. The driver arrived and checked them in but was hesitant to let me tag along. After sensing the hesitation, Olive politely told the driver, “I’m going. She’s going. We’re all going.” And we were on our way!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Am I Going to Top My Best Bookish Year?


You may remember that 2014 was my best bookish year yet. I didn’t plan to outdo myself in 2015 but with half the year under our belts, I’ve already made more literary memories than anticipated!

Last week I attended the book tour for Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga by Pamela Newkirk. Ota Benga was an African man featured in an anthropology exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. Two years later, the New York Zoological Gardens displayed him in its Monkey House alongside an orangutan. Someone asked Newkirk how burdensome it must be to write a book like this. She responded that self-care was very necessary. Where exercise was a pretty routine outlet for her, she discovered that it wasn’t enough while writing the book, so she began meditating.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson



One of the highlights of my trip to the Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival (Bocas Lit Fest) was meeting Naomi Jackson. We met during the Business of Translation session and subsequently went to lunch together. She helped me with the menu since it was the first time in my life I’d heard of buss-up-shut. And I was only familiar with callaloo because I remembered seeing it on an episode of The Cosby Show.

A couple of days later, Naomi and Tiphanie Yanique, the author of How to Escape From a Leper Colony and Land of Love and Drowning, were featured in the Family Ties session. Stephen Narain facilitated the discussion about books inspired by family stories. That’s where I learned about The Star Side of Bird Hill’s cover art. It was a painting given to Naomi by the artist, Sheena Rose. Naomi requested that the art be her book’s cover after realizing that it’d be perfect for Star Side. Some said this was wishful thinking with a powerhouse publisher like Penguin Press, but Naomi pulled it off! She writes in detail about "The Perfect Covergirl" at Literary Hub!


Monday, June 15, 2015

When Washington Was in Vogue by Edward Christopher Williams


I discovered Washington Was in Vogue through DC By the Book, a project that identifies and compiles a database of literature set in DC. It is the second of three books that I decided to read because of the initiative. Breathing Room by Patricia Elam was the first.

The novel, which is referred to as a lost novel of the Harlem Renaissance, unfolds as a comical series of letters written by Davy Carr to his friend Bob. (I believe Song of Solomon is the only other novel I’ve read that captures the friendship of two men.) Davy is in Washington, DC to do research for a book about the African slave trade. While there he meets a young woman named Caroline that he’s not quite sure how to handle. But through the letters he sends to Bob, it’s obvious that he’s falling in love with her.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

I read The Other Wes Moore in February 2014. It was one of many draft reviews that I never posted. Since it was so close to being finished, I decided to clean it up and get it on the blog. The story is about two people with the same name, growing up in the same city. The author becomes a Rhodes Scholar while the other Wes ends up serving life in prison.
My biggest qualm about this book is that author Wes made inferences the reader should’ve been allowed to make. I didn't feel like the story was fair to the incarcerated Wes and have many times wondered if incarcerated Wes felt the same way. I would’ve preferred a story that was more balanced.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Literary Goodness

There’s so much literary goodness going on right now! If you missed something, here are a few highlights:

The Warmth of Other Suns, better known as the book that I never wanted to end, will be adapted into a historical drama television series! You may remember Isabel Wilkerson made my list of Authors That I Hope Are Writing Another Book. There’s no news on when the series will air, but I will be following this closely.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Part 1 Recap: Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival (Bocas Lit Fest)


The Business of Translation 

L to R: Johnny Temple, Ria Julien, Frank Wynne
The first session I attended had a panel of industry professionals give their inside perspective on the publishing world’s view of translation. I’ve only read one translated book, I think, So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba, and I wondered how close the translation came to capturing the sentiments of the author. However, I did not consider that all translations are not created equal. Although it seemed obvious after it was said. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I'm Back From the Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival (Bocas Lit Fest)!


I’m back in the swing of things after an amazing trip to Trinidad. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to do much writing. I hope to finish a series of posts on the festival this weekend, but I don’t want to leave you hanging until next week!

Attending the Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival makes my list of best decisions ever. I’ve been to several book festivals stateside, but this book festival was is my favorite. Here’s why: 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Redemption in Indigo: A Novel by Karen Lord


Redemption in Indigo is the third of four books I chose to read in preparation for the Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival which, by the way, starts today!!! I’m glad I didn’t skip it which I thought about doing to read Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique, but I’ll get to in the next few weeks. I was not familiar with Karen Lord before learning that she’s attending the festival. The author was born in Barbados and resides there now.  

When the story opens, Paama has left her gluttonous husband Asinge and returned to the home of her parents. Asinge goes to her village to bring her back, but his self-indulgent actions lead to a series of blunders that leave the people of Paama’s village applauding her for leaving her foolish husband. Unbeknownst to Paama and Asinge, Asinge’s actions are being manipulated by spirits.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson


The Salt Roads is the first of four books I chose to read in preparation for Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival. Nalo Hopkinson was not on my radar before I learned that she was a festival attendee. Her press kit indicates that she born in Jamaica. She has lived in Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana and for the past 35 years in Canada. She is the author of six novels, a short story collection, and a small poetry collection. 

The Salt Roads opens in St. Domingue on a sugar plantation. There we meet Mer, a slave and healer. Learning how Mer makes potions to cure varying ailments of the slaves is fascinating. And I got a few laughs from her interactions with Ti-Bois, a slave child who follows behind her learning the craft. But there is tension between Mer and Makandal, a slave with the ability to transform himself into animals. Makandal wants the slaves to revolt while Mer opposes any idea that may bring harsh punishments to them. Makandal thinks that no punishment is worse than their current plight.Things go terribly wrong once Makandal convinces a small group to go along with the plan.

Monday, April 27, 2015

How to Escape from a Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique

How to Escape from a Leper Colony: A Novella and Stories is the second of four books I chose to read in preparation for the Trinidad and Tobago Literary festival. I almost decided to skip the third and fourth books after finishing this one because I wanted to dive right into Yanique’s novel, Land of Love and Drowning.

I read many sections in these stories that made me pause, close the book, close my eyes, and just sit with it. And that’s how it took me ten days to read a book that could’ve been read in two. “Fresh new voice” sounds clichè but it’s true; her writing is refreshing.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Author Event with Lawrence Hill


January turned into the month of reading Lawrence Hill after being swept away by The Book of Negroes, my first read of the year. I finished all three of his novels that same month. And this month, I finally got to see the man himself!

Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival (Bocas Lit Fest)

After an exciting literary year in 2014, I decided to kick it up a notch. The 2015 Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival is taking place at the end of the month. And I’ll be there! Thanks to the suggestion by Jacqueline, who blogs at The Big Sea, April will be devoted to reading books by authors that will attend the festival. And Jacqueline will be there too!

The Caribbean literature I’ve read was set in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, including The Farming of Bones, the first book I read by Edwidge Danticat. However, I read ‘Til the Well Runs Dry around this time last year which was partially set in Trinidad. 

Here's a quick rundown of the books I'm trying to finish up by the end of the month!