Harlem Renaissance: five novels of the 1920s edited by Rafia Zafar

Mar 04

Harlem Renaissance: five novels of the 1920s edited by Rafia Zafar

This was a very interesting read. Harlem Renaissance: Five Novels of the 1920s edited by Rafia Zafar, is just as the title suggests–five novels written by African American authors during or about the Harlem Renaissance. This was a fascinating period in black history for many reasons. One, it is where a lot of black intellectuals began to become known in various fields–literature, music, art, scholarly pursuits. It really was a golden age for post-slavery African Americans. The five novels in this book are: Jean Toomer’s Cane written in 1923 — it is a story about a woman in Georgia, a teacher, who struggles with who she is as a black woman and how her ‘race’ affects her; Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem written in 1928, a story of two young men with very different backgrounds, both African American, and how they deal with the prejudices and stereotypes of white America — it is rich with culture–jazz and excitement– prohibition and drinking, and even sex– this is a story of defining a race from within the race and starting a cultural revolution, it is a good peek into Harlem in the 1920’s; next was Nella Larsen’s Quicksand which is a story about a woman who is half black, half white–she struggles with who she is, who her people are and how she can connect within a society so divided when she is not white or black but both; Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Plum Bun written in 1928 is the story of two African American sisters–they are different in many ways–one, the main character, is pale and can pass as a white person and so she does, but she learns how deserting your roots and your culture is not always the best thing, rarely ever is, actually, but how to be black in a white dominant culture is the question she is trying to answer; and finally Wallace Thurman’s The Blacker the Berry written in 1929, is a story about a young woman, Emma, who is very dark skinned and how this influenced how other African Americans, as well as whites, treated her, this story digs into how the culture of color went inside the African American communities as well as the...

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Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

Mar 02

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

Love Medicine was a really good book. It is Native American literature and it is filled with disjointed short stories, coming together, as a tribe would from all angles. The characters are strong and vulnerable, believable and the stories pull on your heart strings. This is a book with a message. In this book we read about two families spanning many decades, in a non-linear manner. This lends to the interconnectedness of the past, the present and the future. That is a main point, each generation affects the next and the last. And many more to come. This book tells of the Governmental “re-education” of the Native Americans by predominantly white people and religious organizations. It tells of subjugation, of the woes of reservation, of alcohol and stereotypes. It tells of the struggle to cope with forced assimilation while still trying to hold on to who you are, the culture you have always known and that of your ancestors—while not being given the option to stay the same. I do not want to give too much away but I would definitely recommend Love...

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Library gets creative making surprise book packages

Jul 10

What a fun little mystery it would be to go into your local library where you can choose a certain genre and you are handed a plain wrapped book. You won’t know what it is, just that a librarian thought it worthy of reading in the category. How fun! It would be a delight to see what others thought were good. A Slovenian library did just this earlier in the year. Anyone who visited the Ljubljana City Library could choose from a variety of mysterious packages—each containing three books wrapped in the brown paper above. Each package was sorted by the literary genre from which the books inside belonged. The three books were all the same genre: one from a contemporary writer, a classic and an “easy-t0-read” book. How clever is that? What if you could do this locally? Why not suggest it to your local libraries? What if you took it one step further and you could choose your favorite books and make a surprise category for others to read? It would be the ultimate in recommending and sharing favorites. FUN! =) I wonder if they did this for children as well? I am quite certain kids would LOVE this...

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