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.