Malcolm X’s Diary + Ninjas Be Reading TONIGHT

Just a couple updates today:

1. Malcolm X’s personal diary from the last year of his life is being published THIS WEEK. Y’all, this is major. Malcolm underwent a transformation in the last part of his life. Caveat: it’s some mess because even though his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz is backing the release of the diary, other family members don’t want it published.  Peep the trailer below:

h/t ColorLines

2. DopeReads is facilitating the final book club discussion of Kiese Laymon’s book of essays, “How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others In America”. Tonight on Twitter 9PM EST, use the hashtag #NBR. We gets jiggy with this reading sh*t.

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 :)

Book Review: Half of a Yellow Sun

This book is sooooo good.
Like, I don’t even know how to describe how good it is.
Let’s start with the characters:
There is Odenigbo, the strong revolutionary academic with high minded ideas about his country and people,
There is his lover Olanna, beautiful and barren,
There is Olanna’s twin sister Kainene, not as beautiful, but sassy than a mofo,
There is Richard, Kainene’s white British lover,
There is Baby, Odenigbo’s daughter
and there is Ugwu, Odenigbo’s houseboy.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel has more characters that color the story, but these six are the main ones that are set against each other in the plot of the book. It is set in the late sixties as Nigeria (and the rest of the African continent) shakes off the colonial rule of Europe and the intertribal rivalries start to reach a boiling point. Every one of the main characters is devoted to something or someone: Ugwu is devoted to Odenigbo, Odenigbo is devoted to the idea of a free Biafra, Olanna is devoted to her lover, Kainene is devoted to being a smart ass and a business woman, Richard is devoted to Kainene, and Baby is devoted to Ugwu. The interesting stuff happens when all these devotions get disrupted by literal outside forces (war, famine) and emotional forces (family pressure, resentment).
Adichie does a good job of grabbing the reader by the heart with the way she paces the action in the story – the Biafran War boils up and throws the solidly middle class characters into complete chaos. No longer can they sit and argue policies and politics in their living rooms over wine, they actually are living it. The Biafran War serves as the backdrop for most of the story and truly exposes the horrors of war to the reader, and you realize how little it takes to toss an otherwised civil society into turmoil. It is through war that we see Odenigbo’s high and mighty ideologies put the the test and his subsequent dillusionment; we see the power of forgiveness that Kainene has towards her sister for the doing her dirty, and we see Olanna’s tough-as-nails spirit shine through as she fights to keep her family together.
Also, it should be noted that the s3x in the book is really, really good. Like, usually literary s3x is boring or over the top and never really captures the essence of the act. I believe Adichie uses s3x with purpose, to show how it is used as a sign of love between lovers, as a weapon for revenge, and as a tool of power via rape.
Reading this book reminded me a bit of “Beneath the Lion’s Gaze” and “The Kite Runner”, with the themes of war and family in foreign countries teaching you more about a history that you never knew of (the power of fiction!!). You begin to see how war changes people, breaks them down and reveals who they are. That said, you really need to read this book and change your life. Check out the homies of the NBR bookclub tomorrow @ 9PM eastern as they discuss the last few chapters of the book and see for yourself how electrifying they found it. Happy reading!