The Week in Books #101

4/14 ✅

The week in books! I’ve got two weeks worth of books to cover this week. I’ve started to dig into this stack and have already managed to read 31 books so far this year which is cool. It feels like just yesterday I made it to 1000 books read in my lifetime (from memory) and now I see that I’m at 1121. How did that happen?! I’m a reading maniac, apparently. Here we go.

1. My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. I bought this from a friend who was moving and the moment it arrived in the mail I started reading, finishing it just a couple hours later. It was super dark and funny and I loved it.

Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife.

Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

Penguin Randomhouse

2. The Dragon the Giant the Women by Wayetu Moore. Wayetu escaped violence in Liberia at a young age, travelling through Sierra Leone and making it to the United States. What I loved about this memoir is that it includes a section from her Mother’s perspective which was really nice to see, as she was the one that put into motion the rescue plan that saved her husband and three little girls. Not often a memoir has two perspectives in it and I thought it was admirable to share the focus and allow her mom to use her own voice for her part of the story. Very interesting book, I don’t think I have read a Liberian author before. Wayetu has an easy writing style and shares not only the story of her childhood in Liberia but also her subsequent years living in the USA as an African woman. She also has a novel called She Would Be King that I will definitely be checking out.

When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised her, war breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking and hiding for three weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally, a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on yet another journey, this time to the United States.

Spanning this harrowing journey in Moore’s early childhood, her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for home in the midst of upheaval. Moore has a novelist’s eye for suspense and emotional depth, and this unforgettable memoir is full of imaginative, lyrical flights and lush prose. In capturing both the hazy magic and stark realities of what is becoming an increasingly pervasive experience, Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many migrants around the world, and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family.

Grey Wolf Press

3. Love After the End edited by Joshua Whitehead. This is a brief collection of utopian/speculative fiction short stories from two-spirit and queer indigenous writers that Justin got me for Christmas. I have read Joshua Whitehead before but had not heard of any of the contributors to this collection, and it’s always wonderful to be introduced to new authors. There are many unique and intriguing stories included, standouts for me were History of the New World, Story for a Bottle, Nameless, and Eloise. They were all good in their own individual way, really. Lovely collection!

This exciting and groundbreaking fiction collection showcases a number of new and emerging 2SQ (Two-Spirit and queer) Indigenous writers from across Turtle Island. These visionary authors show how queer Indigenous communities can bloom and thrive through utopian narratives that detail the vivacity and strength of 2SQness throughout its plight in the maw of settler colonialism’s histories.

Here, readers will discover bioengineered AI rats, transplanted trees in space, the rise of a 2SQ resistance camp, a primer on how to survive Indigiqueerly, virtual reality applications, mother ships at sea, and the very bending of space-time continuums queered through NDN time. Love after the End demonstrates the imaginatively queer Two-Spirit futurisms we have all been dreaming of since 1492.

Contributors include Nathan Adler, Darcie Little Badger, Gabriel Castilloux Calderon, Adam Garnet Jones, Mari Kurisato, Kai Minosh Pyle, David Alexander Robertson, jaye simpson, and Nazbah Tom.

Arsenal Pulp Press

4. A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum. Wow, this book was incredible. I was very moved by the way the story unfolded in alternating views from Isra (in the 90’s) and her daughter Deya as a teenager in 2008. There’s something about telling a story out of order like this that just gets you right in the feels; I was blown away by God of the Small Things many years ago and the way this out-of-order telling strikes hardest when the right piece of the story is placed at the end, and A Woman is No Man pulled off the same effect beautifully. I loved the way the characters were crafted as well as the look into Arab culture. The story revolves around how Palestinian women are handed an especially hard burden when it comes to marriage and raising families. Fareeda is a very interesting character in particular as for most of the book I just wanted to smack some sense into her, but also appreciated that she was a strong and traditional Arab woman with a total devotion to sustaining her culture and raising her family in line with it. This is a stunningly beautiful novel.

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

Amazon

For the month of February I pulled a bunch of books into a pile for Black History month which checked a handful of titles off the multiple stacks I have waiting to be read, so I’ve updated the stacks here. I’m thinking I will be able to finish almost all of these books by the end of the year if I keep up my current pace.

One comment

  1. You are a voracious reader! I am really impressed that you do a great summary of the books you are reading too.
    You have been reading for a very long time. My clearest memory of you at Decourcy is tucked up in the big rocking chair with your nose in a book! Not a bad thing at all.

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