It’s been a minute but dopereads is BYKE with the all the book- and literature- new new. Peep the goings on below and check back every Tuesday and Thursday for more.
The National Book Foundation announced its “Top 5 Under 35″ writers. Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo made the list for her book “We Need New Names.” The long lists for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry are to be released this week.
The National Book Festival is taking place on the National Mall in DC this weekend, and DopeReads will be live tweeting it for those who can’t make it.
Also for those in DC, Edwidge Danticat is speaking at Politics and Prose this evening. If you haven’t copped her new book “Claire of the Sea Light,” I highly suggest it. In typical fashion Danticat wields her words masterfully – she’ll have you all in your feels!
Accomplished poet and up-and-coming novelist Erica Buddington talks about her work on HBO’s Def Poetry, fiction writing, and why Junot Diaz is one of the coolest people she’s met in her literary adventures. Peep the audio!
Do slavery, single motherhood, sugar cane harvesting, immigration, and politics fit together? Check out Attica Locke’s “The Cutting Season” to see how she pulled it all off in this coherent, thrilling novel. Usually I try not to be so blunt about what people ‘need’ to do – it’s kind of presumptuous to dictate another grown person’s actions – but you need to read this book. It is so good. I mean, better than “Gone Girl” (I personally wasn’t too entertained by that book, but a lot of people were). I was totally riveted. My Django was unchained.
The main character is Caren Gray, manager of a Louisiana plantation that is also her ancestral home. When she discovers the body of migrant cane worker on the border of the Belle Vie property, the story takes a harrowing turn as she struggles to figure out who the killer is. Could it be Donovan, one of Caren’s rabble rousing employees on the plantation? Or could it be the notoriously troublemaking overseer for Groveland Farm, which borders the Belle Vie plantation and is positioning a buyout of the Clancy family’s ownership? You really won’t know who the killer is until the very end, and you’ll be shocked. Along the way Caren also uncovers facts about another murder on that plantation that hits extremely close to home (I don’t want to give too much away, but it ties everything in very nicely). The themes of family, “home”, past, and labor are all woven together so tightly that you forget that the story itself isn’t real.
Locke’s experience writing for television certainly showed in this book – the action was fast paced, and I had a difficult time putting it down. In total it took me about 2 days to read all 300+ pages. Get your life, and get this book. It is, quite literally, the most breathtaking thing I’ve read in a very long while. Cop it here.
Hope you had a wonderful weekend, lots of fun stuff keeping me busy over this way. This weekend I went to the Trillectro Music Festival and it was EPIC, still coming down from the greatness that it encompassed. Check out the updates and a very special announcement in the SoundCloud clip below. Let me know how you are doing in the comments section!
Let’s be real here – a lot of what we (Westerners) know of Ethiopia is based on those late night aid commercials soliciting support for starving children with distended bellies and flies swarming their faces. This is incredibly problematic. Maaza Mengiste’s “Beneath The Lion’s Gaze” flies in the face of that monolithic stock image of the country and gives a richly drawn description of Ethiopian life before the 1974 revolution that many people know little or nothing about.
This is the story of a family set against the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie, and is easily one of most gripping books I’ve read in a very long time. It looks baldly at the beauty of Ethiopian culture (a strongly family, community, and faith centered way of life), Ethiopian history (Ethiopia proudly off Italian forces and was the only African nation not colonized by Europeans), and the political machinations that tore at the fabric of that society. Main characters include Hailu, a medical doctor and the father and head of the household; Selam, his ailing wife, Yonas, their eldest son, Dawit the younger, more rebellious son, and Sara, Yonas’s wife. There are a number of ancillary characters that weave in and out of the narrative to tell a story that is about family, love, war, and convictions.
For me this novel renewed my interest in Ethiopian history. As a black American I already had some idea of Ethiopia’s rich contribution to black history, and knew of Haile Selassie’s importance to Rastafarianism, but this book made me think about the ramifications of deifying political leaders, black or otherwise. The torture/death scenes in the book were hard to bear because you realize how both fragile and resilient human life can be. This book is definitely worth the read.