More goodness in the form of my 2014 Must Read List. Click HERE for Part I.
8. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (2013) – James McBride’s novel about a young boy slave who travels the land disguised as a girl, while following the abolitionist John Brown, recently won the National Book Award. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since: “An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.” (full synopsis)
9. Jazz by Toni Morrison (1992) – I think I may have read this back in junior high school but I’m not quite sure. I’m on a quest to finish all of Morrison’s novels, this being one of the two that I have left: “In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe’s wife, Violet, attacks the girl’s corpse.” (more)
10. Tar Baby by Toni Morrison (1981) – Last on my list of Morrison’s novels that I’ll need to complete to have read all ten of her novels. I love when she writes about love. Excited about this one: “Tar Baby is Toni Morrison’s reinvention of the love story. Jadine Childs is a black fashion model with a white patron, a white boyfriend, and a coat made out of ninety perfect sealskins. Son is a black fugitive who embodies everything she loathes and desires. As Morrison follows their affair, which plays out from the Caribbean to Manhattan and the deep South, she charts all the nuances of obligation and betrayal between blacks and whites, masters and servants, and men and women.”
11. Foreign Gods,Inc. by Okey Ndibe (2014) – “…the story of Ike, a New York-based Nigerian cab driver who sets out to steal the statue of an ancient war deity from his home village and sell it to a New York gallery. … And so he travels back to Nigeria to steal the statue, where he has to deal with old friends, family, and a mounting conflict between those in the village who worship the deity, and those who practice Christianity…(more)” I first heard about this new novel when author Tayari Jones (Leaving Atlanta, Silver Sparrow) sent out a recommendation through Goodreads.com: “I will definitely use this in my classes (I am an English prof), but I also think it is will be a good choice for bookclubs.” I always perk up and pay attention when authors I admire recommend books. Released January 14th.
12. The Fall of Saints by Wanjiko Wa Ngugi (2014) – “In this stunning debut novel, a Kenyan expat is living the American Dream until she uncovers her husband’s secrets and opens a Pandora’s box of good versus evil…. one night, as Mugure is rummaging through an old drawer, she comes across a piece of paper with a note scrawled on it—a note that calls into question everything she’s ever believed about her husband… (more)” This novel popped up on a list of upcoming books by authors of color compiled by a reading group that I’m in on Goodreads.com. The synopsis sounds cool, but I have to admit that I only added this to my list because I’m in love with the cover. Covers DO matter, people. It comes out February 25, and though I’m a little turned off by the early reviews on Goodreads, I still think I’m going to give this one a shot.
13. The Narrows by Ann Petry (1953) – With her novel, The Street, Ann Petry became the first Black woman author to sell over a million copies with her novel, The Street. It’s about time I read more of her work: “When Link Williams, a college-educated twenty-six-year-old African-American man, falls for Camilo Sheffield, a wealthy married white woman, things will never be the same in the sleepy New England town of Monmouth, Connecticut. Set in the 1950s, this unforgettable classic deftly evokes a tragic love affair and offers a window onto the powerful ways in which class, race, and love intersected in midcentury America.”
14. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963) – “Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel of a woman falling into the grips of insanity.” I’d never heard of Sylvia Plath until someone retweeted one of her glorious poems into my Twitter timeline a year or so ago, which sparked an intense Wikipedia and Google research binge. I immediately put this book on my To-Read list back then, and now it’s finally time to give this oft lauded novel a try.
Tagged as: african american authors, African American Literature, african american novels, African American writers, african authors, African writers, Black authors, Black writers, Dwayne Alexander Smith, fiction, Foreign Gods Inc, Forty Acres, James McBride, Jazz, literary fiction, naija, Okey Ndibe, Sylvia Plath, Tar Baby, The Bell Jar, The Fall of Saints, The Good Lord Bird, Toni Morrison, Wanjiko Wa Ngugi