Free Stuff + New Novella + #LiteraryManicures Pics

Hey Friends,

Meant to post yesterday but got lost in the sauce. Wanted to share a few updates:

Felicia Pride is giving away free Kindle versions of her book “To Create: Black Writers, Filmmakers, Storytellers, Artists, and Media-Makers Riff on Art, Careers, Life, and the Beautiful Mess in Between” through TODAY so get it while you can. It features articles on writers and creators like DopeReads fave Edwidge Danticat, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and actor Blaire Underwood. Cop it here.

The homie Britni Danielle recently released her novella “Turn It Loose.” Check it out here, it’s only $2.99.

Speaking of free lit, writer/creator/scholar Carrie Kholi has an essay entitled: if God can Cook/you Know I can: Pedagogy of Those Opting-Out of Oppression. Cop it here.

Here are more literary manicures from my Instagram page. I’ll have a new mani up on Tuesday. And yes, I do them all myself :)




Have a good weekend!

The Problem with HuffPo’s 30 Before 30 Book List


On Sunday a follower on Twitter hit me up for my opinion about the Huffington Post’s list of 30 Books You Should Read Before 30. After taking a look at the article, my response was a resounding “meh.”

At first I didn’t really want to get into why the list didn’t move me, in part because it’s hard to articlulate my thoughts on Twitter without getting rant-y. However, I’m known for not being able to keep my mouth shut when it comes to offering my opinion, which was this: these types of lists are pointless, because A. there are literally too many books out there and B. whichever books they choose are not going to meet the needs of wide swaths of readers out there.

I think it would have been helpful if there was a disclaimer that ‘these are the books that would fit for this particular audience’. As a black woman and as a reader, I think the list got some of the books right, but it could have used a little bit more seasoning and representation from authors of color. I think they were on point with Toni Morrison’s Song of Soloman and James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room”, but if I was putting together that list, I would throw some Zora Neale Hurston in there, some of Baldwin’s essays, some Edwidge Danticat, some Langston Hughes, some Maya Angelou, some Assata Shakur, some Octavia Butler, some Edward P. Jones, some Tayari Jones, some Chinua Achebe. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I wasn’t the only person who thought the list was dry – author Junot Diaz pointed out that he felt some folks were missing from the listing in this Facebook post – and I’m not nearly as well read as he. It might seem like no big deal, but as Vida stats and this count by critic Roxane Gay point out, there is a need for literary institutions and criticism to do a better job of being inclusive to books and writers outside of the mainstream experience. As America becomes browner and more diverse it only makes sense for literature to reflect those changes.

The point is, these lists need to be clear about who they are talking to. I get that it is targeted to 20-30 somethings, but we are a vast and multicultural group with vast and multicultural tastes and lives and we deserve discussions around literature that are far more robust.

NBR Takes On Junot

So the Twitter book club I’m a part of, N(injas) B(e) R(eadin’), is tackling Junot Diaz’s “This is How You Lose Her” tonight at 9 PM EST. The tag is #NBR, and the stories for discussion are Otravida, Otravez; Flaca; and The Pura Principle. It’s really a lot of fun, you never know where the convo will turn, and you always get unique perspectives. Also, this book is all that and a bag of Lay’s Chicken and Waffle Chips. Get into it!

Shout out to @GemoftheOcean and @BrazenlyVirile for hosting #NBR every week :)

[Interview] StoryTellers: Erica ‘Riva’ Buddington


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!

Check out more about Erica here or here.

Book Review: Get “Lost” in Edward P. Jones’ “City”

Pulitzer-and-numerous-other-literary-prize winner Edward P. Jones’ “Lost in the City” was one of the books that had been chilling on my bookcase for a while before I cracked it open, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to grow a bit before digging into it. I got the first nudge from Junot Diaz at the National Book Festival, when he listed Jones as one of his influences. I’d read “The Known World” back when it came out, but I don’t think I’d developed the teeth necessary to really chew on and digest that book; as a result “All Aunt Hagar’s Children” and “Lost in the City” languished in unread-book-land for years. It was totally worth it, though, because now that I live in the DC metro area the stories resonated with more depth for me. Books be knowing, y’all.

Synopsis: It’s a book of short stories, and it’s easy to see where Junot Diaz got his inspiration for “Drown” and “This Is How You Lose Her” – Lost’s characters are connected to characters in All Aunt Hagar’s children, and are sometimes connected with stories in the same collection as well. Jones skillfully examines mid-century DC when it was still a ‘chocolate city’. The streets, locations, and descriptions of people are spot on. He captures the voice of old-school black DC in a quiet, unassuming, non-judgmental way. He’s just telling it how it is. I appreciate Jones’ narrative straightforwardness – Jones builds stories bit by bit, each piece appearing to just be matter of fact, and before you know it you’re at the end, pondering the bigger issues the story has quietly laid out. It’s great when good storytelling sneaks up on you.

Favorite characters: Marie, an elderly woman who fends off a potential thief with her homemade serrated shank;  Joyce, who acts like it’s all good that her son buys her a house using dope money and fakes like she can have kids with her man even though her tubes are tied; a store-keep who watches the rise and fall of a neighborhood corner store from his perch behind the counter.

Read this if you: like DC, want to understand what the city was like for black folks before 2000, like Toni Morrison, like books with depth. Also, I was super pumped that my edition, published by Amistad, had “A Rich Man,” which I posted here as required cuffing reading not too long ago, included as a bonus to introduce readers to All Aunt Hagar’s Children. Gotta read that next!

Book Review: This Is How You Lose Her

Ok, I’ve been stanning on this book for a while, and I just couldn’t shake how deeply it touched me. So I linked up with my homegirl Erika and we had a lengthy heart-to-heart about the emotions this book took us through: tears, passion, frustration. Something about the characters and the writing got deep into my marrow, y’all. Like this book will have you swan-diving headfirst into your feelings and backstroking in the sea of your emotions. Peep the discussion below and let me know what you think.

Happy Monday!

Also,  I made a tumblr dedicated Junot Diaz’s carnal-ass way of depicting women in his stories. ThisIsHowYouDescribeHer.Tumblr.Com. Since even Slate agrees his literary lady descriptions are segsy. Enjoy!