Posts Tagged ‘African American’

Salvage the Bones

August 14, 2012

Author: Jesmyn Ward

Title: Salvage the Bones

Genre: African American

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 258

Geographical Setting: Rural Mississppi

Time Period: 2005 (Hurricane Katrina)

Plot Summary: In the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, Esch, fifteen, finds out she is pregnant. She and her brothers are leading a hard-scrabble life in rural Mississippi. Randall hopes to get a basketball scholarship and Skeetah is breeding his prize fighting pit bull. Things come to a dramatic conclusion as the Hurricane hits.

Subject Headings: African American teenage girls-fiction; Motherless families-fiction; Brothers and sisters-fiction; Rural poor-Mississippi-fiction; Hurricane Katrina 2005-fiction.

Appeal: descriptive, gritty, flawed characters, sympathetic characters, realistic, bleak, poignant, sexually explicit, profanity, earthy, rural.

3 terms that best describe this book: realistic, gritty, rural setting.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Hurricane Katrina: The Mississippi Story by James Patterson Smith. Tells of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including the devastation of sixty five thousand homes and the precarious days of food and water shortages that followed.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
A true-life story of one man’s ordeal in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Mr.Zeitoun was allegedly mistaken for a terrorist and detained for over 20 days without ever standing trial.

Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a great American City by Jed Horne
An editor of New Orleans’ Times-Picayune presents victims’ tales and the politics behind the disastrous relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl in an America whose love for blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, people will notice her, and her world will be different. Literary, character-driven, bleak, haunting, lyrical.

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
Semi-autobiographical novel of a childhood in 1950s-60s South Carolina. The protagonist, nicknamed Bone, is a victim of poverty and physical abuse, including sexual abuse. Her family, like Esch’s, are poor, loving, and protective.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Set in Haiti’s impoverished villages and in New York’s Haitian community, this is the story of Sophie Caco, who was conceived in an act of violence, abandoned by her mother and then summoned to America.

Name: Sonia Reppe

The Heat Seekers by Zane

November 16, 2011

Author: Zane

Title: The Heat Seekers

Genre: Urban Fiction /African American

Publication Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 320

Geographical Setting: Washington, D.C.

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: In addition to the witty dialogue and steamy sex that Zane is known for, The Heat Seekers is also a saga of two strong women who face some serious issues and manage to overcome them. Best friends Janessa and Tempest have all but given up on finding straight, single, good-looking men who are not “freaks.” Out to have some fun one night, they go to a local club to “get their groove on.” As chance would have it, they end up meeting two eligible men who are also best friends. Geren is handsome, available, seemingly perfect, and is very interested in Tempest. Dvonte is a cute and charming “playa” who nonetheless wins Janessa’s heart. Erotic tension builds for Tempest and Geren as they wait to consummate their love, while Janessa and Dvonte are not ashamed to express their desires. As each couple embarks on their different relationships, the drama builds as each confront issues that could threaten their fairy tale romances. Despite the focus on sexual love, at the heart of this novel is the caring relationship these two women have with each other, and their ability to help each other through rough times. This is an entertaining, thought provoking novel that encourages readers to reflect on their own lives and accomplishments. It also has enough humor and steamy sex scenes to satisfy any reader.

Subject Headings: African American, Urban Fiction, Erotic Fiction, Unwanted Pregnancy, Contemporary Romance Appeal: candid, emotionally charged, dramatic, compassionate, humorous, romantic, sensual, erotic, playful, sympathetic characters, well developed characters, evocative, insightful, character centered, steamy, issue oriented, racy, resolved ending, strong language, sexually explicit, steamy, thought provoking, contemporary, urban, accessible, conversational

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: steamy, thought provoking, humorous

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

How Stella Got her Groove Back by Terry McMillan. Like The Heat Seekers, this book features a strong, African American protagonist who embarks on a passionate love affair and provides the reader with a fairy tale ending.

Sweeter than Honey by Mary B Morrison. This is a steamy, urban tale. Like The Heat Seekers, it features a strong female African American protagonist who encounters drama and has to overcome adversity. It also deals with complex, thought-provoking issues.

True to the Game by Teri Woods. This gritty, urban tale is grittier than The Heat Seekers, yet it provides readers with a similar steamy love affair between passionate African American characters. Like The heat Seekers, this novel deals with some of the serious issues facing contemporary young people.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors In Good Conscience: a Practical, Emotional, and Spiritual Guide to Deciding Whether to Have an Abortion by Anna Runkle. Multiple characters in The Heat Seekers deal with unwanted pregnancy, all in different ways. One character deals with a very difficult abortion. This guide will help readers who may be facing the same situation to think their pregnancy through before making a decision.

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: a Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether To Stay in or Get Out of your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum. In The Heat Seekers, Janessa stays in a bad relationship with Dvonte. Readers who are dealing with a similar situation in their lives may find help in this chatty, sympathetic relationship guide.

 Men, Love & Sex: the Complete User’s Guide for Women by David Zinczenko with Ted Spiker. The relationships in The Heat Seekers are complicated and the men sometimes seem like they are from another planet. At the same time, the characters are all having satisfying sexual adventures. This book would be great for readers who want to understand the other sex a little more or simply put some spark into their sex lives.

Name: Meghan Maleski

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

March 16, 2011

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Author: Toni Morrison

Title: Song of Solomon

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1977

Number of Pages: 337

Geographical Setting: Detroit, MI

Time Period: 1910’s to 1960’s

Plot Summary: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, is the story of the Dead family led by local Detroit businessman, Macon Dead together with his wife Ruth Foster Dead and their three children, First Corinthians, Magdalena (Lena), and Macon, Jr.  Told in third person from the perspective of Macon Dead and Macon, Jr. we are pulled into the current life of Macon, Jr. as a child and as he grows up through the 1950’s and 60’s.  Macon Dead, the father, serves as the history teller bringing us back to the past through his stories as he remembers his life and what brought him to present day.  Morrison uses eccentric secondary characters such as Empire State, to tell us even more about the secrets of Macon family, their complicated lives and societal roles both within the family and as African-Americans, throughout the novel.  Song of Solomon is thought-provoking, introspective, and imaginative in its storytelling both for the characters and the reader.

Subject Headings: Fiction & Biography; African Americans; Fathers and sons; Family relationships; Family histories; Heritage; Racial identity; Self-discovery; Social classes; Michigan Midwest (U.S.); 20th century; Literary; Domestic; Generational; Sociological; Married Father; Businessman

Appeal: engrossing, thought-provoking, imaginative, introspective, historical, African-American, eccentric, urban, rural, race relations, civil rights movement, morality, familial roles and life, ancestral, changes, award-winning, National Book Critics Circle Award, lyrical writing, melancholy

3 terms that best describe this book: engrossing, African-American literature, thought-provoking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White by Henry Weincek tells the historical story of the Hairston family and their inspiring rise from lives of repressive slavery to middle-class America in WWII.

Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South is a compiliation of real-life interviews and stories of segregation in the south in the 1950’s and 1960’s and how families and people overcame their struggles to create a sense of normalcy in their lives.  The book was compiled by the Behind the Veil Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past by Henry Louis Gates is companion volume to the landmark PBS documentary African American Lives.  The book follows these 19 families as they trace their roots and learn about not only their ancestry and culture, but also themselves through introspective realizations.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston; the poignant and moving story of an African-American woman in the 1930’s searching for her ancestry while learning about herself throughout the journey.  Hurston tells the story with rhythmic language through a series of formats in one volume.

Beloved by Toni Morrison tells the rich story of Sethe, a former slave, now freed, who is haunted by the ghosts of her past of not only her troubled life but also the mysterious nature of her baby’s death.  This is written in Morrison’s unique style of lyrical complexity

The Color Purple by Alice Walker is the classic African American story of two sisters from the poor, rural south and their journey through 30 years of life starting in the 1900’s and taking us through the 1940’s.  Walker delivers the story as a novel told through the letters these sisters write to each other.

-Jennifer Peterson

The Gilda Stories: A Novel

June 21, 2009

Author: Jewelle Gomez

Title: The Gilda Stories: a Novel

Genre: Lesbian

Publication Date: 1991

Number of Pages: 252

Geographical Setting: Louisiana, California, Missouri, Massachusetts, New York, and New Hampshire

Time Period: 1850, 1890, 1921, 1955, 1981, 2020, and 2050.

Series: n/a

Plot Summary:
This is the story of a single woman, leading multiple lives… The story begins like an historical novel, recreating the antebellum South, 1850 Louisiana, with the central character’s first life. She is a runaway slave, not yet a vampire, not even named. She stabs her would be would-be rapist (and likely murderer) in self-defense. Huddled in the basement, alone with the body and covered in blood, the girl is rescued and finds sanctuary in a brothel run by Gilda, a 300-year-old vampire who yearns for “true death”–and her Lakota Sioux companion, Bird. The pair “convert” the girl, who takes her benefactor’s name… Gilda.

The rest of Gilda’s lives are spent searching for a place to call home, for love, and for greater meaning in the world. The 1980s finds her in San Francisco, where she meets others like her and learns the subtleties of what it is to be a vampire. In Boston in the 1950s she is forced into confronting a cruel vampire pimp. Toward the end Gilda takes her readers to the future, an America of polluted, dying cities. People scramble to get of of the planet and, vampires are hunted by the rich and greedy to extend their own lives.

Though it really deals with vampires, this doesn’t feel like the usual horror story. It’s a story of character. These are vampires without the need to kill. When they take the blood of others, they leave behind “what’s needed–energy, dreams, ideas.” Bringing an unusual twist to the subject matter, The Gilda Stories may have a draw to readers’ interests in feminist stories, African American women and lesbian stories and struggles, social issues, history, vampires, and romance.

Subject Headings:
Lesbian vampires — Fiction.
African Americans — Fiction.

Appeal: multiple time lines, multiple locations, strongly developed secondary characters, philosophical, slowly revealed, African-American, lesbian, bi-sexual, dense, serious, historical settings, vampires, social critique, corruption of power, sexuality, conflicted character

terms that best describe this book: philosophical, character over time, social culture

Similar Authors or works (fiction):
The Dear One by Jacqueline Woodson: African American girls, development, and growth.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: A classic story of an African American woman’s life.

The Street: a Novel by Ann Petry: Social criticism, study of African American life in the 1940’s.

Similar Authors or works (non-Fiction):
Does Your Mama Know? edited by Lisa Moore: An anthology of black lesbian coming out stories.

Black Queer Studies: a Critical Anthology by various: Essays considering the ways that gender and sexuality have been glossed over in black studies and race and class marginalized in queer studies.

Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism by Patrica Hill Collins: explores the social and personal implications of historical images and more current concerns about the influence of prison culture on urban youth culture that glorifies connections between sex and violence.

Name: Chris