Monday, March 30, 2015

Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta

Happiness, Like Water is a suspenseful collection of short stories. Several of the stories are liberating, but several of them are tragic. They illustrate what can happen when women succumb to external pressure or expectations. This is demonstrated with overt cultural connotations, but I think the stories are universal. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dust Tracks On a Road: An Autobiography by Zora Neale Hurston

Dust Tracks On a Road, Zora Neale Hurston’s autobiography, was published in 1942. This verbose but colorful book reads like a collection of short stories. Hurston often poses questions that she proceeds to answer but not without excluding the reader from her thought process. Sometimes by the end of the chapter the questions are still unanswered. But for Hurston it seems just thinking through it was enough. And so goes her autobiography.

Hurston always had a fanciful way about herself. We find out early in the book that she was a storyteller from the beginning. A significant portion of the book is dedicated to stories that she recalls from her childhood. While Hurston’s mother was always supportive of her anecdotes, her grandmother found them troubling. I laughed when I read Hurston’s account of what happened when she was telling her mother a story within earshot of her grandmother, “Oh, she’s just playing,” Mama said indulgently. Her grandmother replied, “Playing! Why dat lil’ heifer is lying just as fast as a horse can trot. Stop her!”

Monday, March 9, 2015

Interview: Tendai Huchu (Author)

Welcome Tendai! I’m glad you stopped by Reading Has Purpose! Your first novel, The Hairdresser of Harare, is on my to-read list. Before I could even read it, you’re back with novel number two! So let’s get to it!

RHP: Is The Maestro, The Magistrate, & The Mathematician a book you’ve wanted to write for some time or did the idea just come to you?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Under the Radar: "Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America"

One thing I like to do in this space is introduce books and authors that may have flown under the radar. I make many of these discoveries in used book stores, but sometimes I discover them because they are mentioned in other books. Since I don’t get around to reviewing every book that I read, I’m introducing Under the Radar as a way to ensure that I’m getting these titles to you whether I write about them or not.

While finishing up Dust Tracks On a Road by Zora Neale Hurston, I learned about Cudjoe Lewis. She interviewed him while doing research for the Journal of Negro History and Columbia University. He was the last known living captive that came to the United States on a slave ship. The ship arrived after the African slave trade had been abolished. I did a quick search and found Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America which discusses the last recorded group of Africans deported to the United States as slaves. Cudjoe Lewis died in 1945.