Swing Time

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2016-11-19 21:12Z by Steven

Swing Time

Penguin Press
2016-11-15
464 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1594203985
Paperback ISBN: 978-1524723194

Zadie Smith

Two brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.

Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live.

But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey—the same twists, the same shakes—and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history but a present dance to the music of time.

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Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2015-07-23 02:13Z by Steven

Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black

Penguin Press
2009 (First published in 1859)
176 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780143105763
Ebook ISBN: 9781440649141

Harriet E. Wilson (1825-1900)

Introduction and Notes by:

P. Gabrielle Foreman, Ned B. Allen Professor of English
University of Delaware

Reginald Pitts

For the 150th anniversary of its first publication, a new edition of the pioneering African-American classic, reflecting groundbreaking discoveries about its author’s life

First published in 1859, Our Nig is an autobiographical narrative that stands as one of the most important accounts of the life of a black woman in the antebellum North. In the story of Frado, a spirited black girl who is abused and overworked as the indentured servant to a New England family, Harriet E. Wilson tells a heartbreaking story about the resilience of the human spirit. This edition incorporates new research showing that Wilson was not only a pioneering African-American literary figure but also an entrepreneur in the black women’s hair care market fifty years before Madame C. J. Walker’s hair care empire made her the country’s first woman millionaire.

Read the book at Project Gutenberg here.

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I Am Radar: A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2015-03-23 02:11Z by Steven

I Am Radar: A Novel

Penguin Press
2015-02-24
672 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781594206160

Reif Larsen

The moment just before Radar Radmanovic is born, all of the hospital’s electricity mysteriously fails. The delivery takes place in total darkness. Lights back on, the staff sees a healthy baby boy—with pitch-black skin—born to the stunned white parents. No one understands the uncanny electrical event or the unexpected skin color. “A childbirth is an explosion,” the ancient physician says by way of explanation. “Some shrapnel is inevitable, isn’t it?”

A kaleidoscopic novel both heartbreaking and dazzling, Reif Larsen’s I Am Radar begins with Radar’s perplexing birth but rapidly explodes outward, carrying readers across the globe and throughout history, as well as to unknown regions where radio waves and subatomic particles dance to their own design. Spanning this extraordinary range with grace and empathy, humor and courage, I Am Radar is the vessel where a century of conflict and art unite in a mesmerizing narrative whole.

Deep in arctic Norway, a cadre of Norwegian schoolteachers is imprisoned during the Second World War. Founding a radical secret society that will hover on the margins of recorded history for decades to come, these schoolteachers steal radioactive material from a hidden Nazi nuclear reactor and use it to stage a surreal art performance on a frozen coastline. This strange society appears again in the aftermath of Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime, when another secret performance takes place but goes horrifically wrong. Echoes of this disaster can be heard during the Yugoslavian wars, when an avant-garde puppeteer finds himself trapped inside Belgrade while his brother serves in the genocidal militia that attacks Srebrenica. Decades later, in the war-torn Congo, a disfigured literature professor assembles the largest library in the world even as the country around him collapses. All of these stories are linked by Radar—now a gifted radio operator living in the New Jersey Meadowlands—who struggles with love, a set of hapless parents, and a terrible medical affliction that he has only just begun to comprehend

As I Am Radar accelerates toward its unforgettable conclusion, these divergent strands slowly begin to converge, revealing that beneath our apparent differences, unseen harmonies secretly unite our lives. Drawing on the furthest reaches of quantum physics, forgotten history, and mind-bending art, Larsen’s I Am Radar is a triumph of storytelling at its most primal, elegant, and epic: a breathtaking journey through humanity’s darkest hours only to arrive at a place of shocking wonder and redemption.

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Clotel or, The President’s Daughter

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2014-09-29 20:42Z by Steven

Clotel or, The President’s Daughter

Penguin Press
2003-12-30 (First published in December 1853)
320 Pages
Paperback ISBN: 9780142437728
ePub ISBN: 9781440626616

William Wells Brown (1814–1884)

Introduction by:

M. Giulia Fabi, Associate professor of American literature
University of Ferrara, Italy

First published in December 1853, Clotel was written amid then unconfirmed rumors that Thomas Jefferson had fathered children with one of his slaves. The story begins with the auction of his mistress, here called Currer, and their two daughters, Clotel and Althesa. The Virginian who buys Clotel falls in love with her, gets her pregnant, seems to promise marriage—then sells her. Escaping from the slave dealer, Clotel returns to Virginia disguised as a white man in order to rescue her daughter, Mary, a slave in her father’s house. A fast-paced and harrowing tale of slavery and freedom, of the hypocrisies of a nation founded on democratic principles, Clotel is more than a sensationalist novel. It is a founding text of the African American novelistic tradition, a brilliantly composed and richly detailed exploration of human relations in a new world in which race is a cultural construct.

  • First time in Penguin Classics
  • Published in time for African-American History Month
  • Includes appendices that show the different endings Brown created for the various later versions of Clotel, along with the author’s narrative of his “Life and Escape,” Introduction, suggested readings, and comprehensive explanatory notes
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Everything I Never Told You: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2014-08-04 17:35Z by Steven

Everything I Never Told You: A Novel

Penguin Press
2014-06-26
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781594205712

Celeste Ng

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

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The Buddha of Suburbia

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Novels, United Kingdom on 2013-10-09 02:40Z by Steven

The Buddha of Suburbia

Penguin Press
1990
288 pages
5.07 x 7.83in
Paperback ISBN: 9780140131680

Hanif Kureishi

Karim Amir lives with his English mother and Indian father in the routine comfort of suburban London, enduring his teenage years with good humor, always on the lookout for adventure—and sexual possibilities. Life gets more interesting, however, when his father becomes the Buddha of Suburbia, beguiling a circle of would-be mystics. And when the Buddha falls in love with one of his disciples, the beautiful and brazen Eva, Karim is introduced to a world of renegade theater directors, punk rock stars, fancy parties, and all the sex a young man could desire. A love story for at least two generations, a high-spirited comedy of sexual manners and social turmoil, The Buddha of Suburbia is one of the most enchanting, provocative, and original books to appear in years.

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Glow, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2012-05-29 21:02Z by Steven

Glow, A Novel

Viking (an imprint of Penguin Press)
2012-03-15
336 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780670023318
ePub eBook ISBN: 9781101560976
eBook Adobe Reader ISBN: 9781101557563

Jessica Maria Tuccelli

In the autumn of 1941, Amelia J. McGee, a young woman of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish descent, and an outspoken pamphleteer for the NAACP, hastily sends her daughter, Ella, alone on a bus home to Georgia in the middle of the night—a desperate measure that proves calamitous when the child encounters two drifters and is left for dead on the side of the road.

Ella awakens in the homestead of Willie Mae Cotton, a wise root doctor and former slave, and her partner, Mary-Mary Freeborn, tucked deep in the Takatoka Forest. As Ella heals, the secrets of her lineage are revealed.

Shot through with Cherokee lore and hoodoo conjuring, Glow transports us from Washington, D.C., on the brink of World War II to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836, from the parlors of antebellum manses to the plantation kitchens where girls are raised by women who stand in as mothers. As the land with all its promise and turmoil passes from one generation to the next, Ella’s ancestral home turns from safe haven to mayhem and back again.

Jessica Maria Tuccelli reveals deep insight into individual acts that can transform a community, and the ties that bind people together across immeasurable hardships and distances. Illuminating the tragedy of human frailty, the vitality of friendship and hope, and the fiercest of all bonds—mother love—the voices of Glow transcend their history with grace and splendor.

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Black White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion on 2012-05-27 22:06Z by Steven

Black White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self

Riverhead Press (an imprint of Penguin Press)
2002-01-08
336 pages
5.23 x 8.03in
ISBN 9781573229074

Rebecca Walker

ALA Best Book for Young Adults

The Civil Rights movement brought author Alice Walker and lawyer Mel Leventhal together, and in 1969 their daughter, Rebecca, was born. Some saw this unusual copper-colored girl as an outrage or an oddity; others viewed her as a symbol of harmony, a triumph of love over hate. But after her parents divorced, leaving her a lonely only child ferrying between two worlds that only seemed to grow further apart, Rebecca was no longer sure what she represented. In this book, Rebecca Leventhal Walker attempts to define herself as a soul instead of a symbol—and offers a new look at the challenge of personal identity, in a story at once strikingly unique and truly universal.

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The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White

Posted in Books, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2012-03-26 03:49Z by Steven

The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White

The Penguin Press
2011-02-17
416 pages
6.14 x 9.25in
Hardcover ISBN: 9781594202827

Daniel J. Sharfstein, Professor of Law
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Winner of the 2012 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize

In America, race is a riddle. The stories we tell about our past have calcified into the fiction that we are neatly divided into black or white. It is only with the widespread availability of DNA testing and the boom in genealogical research that the frequency with which individuals and entire families crossed the color line has become clear.

In this sweeping history, Daniel J. Sharfstein unravels the stories of three families who represent the complexity of race in America and force us to rethink our basic assumptions about who we are. The Gibsons were wealthy landowners in the South Carolina backcountry who became white in the 1760s, ascending to the heights of the Southern elite and ultimately to the U.S. Senate. The Spencers were hardscrabble farmers in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, joining an isolated Appalachian community in the 1840s and for the better part of a century hovering on the line between white and black. The Walls were fixtures of the rising black middle class in post-Civil War Washington, D.C., only to give up everything they had fought for to become white at the dawn of the twentieth century. Together, their interwoven and intersecting stories uncover a forgotten America in which the rules of race were something to be believed but not necessarily obeyed.

Defining their identities first as people of color and later as whites, these families provide a lens for understanding how people thought about and experienced race and how these ideas and experiences evolved-how the very meaning of black and white changed-over time. Cutting through centuries of myth, amnesia, and poisonous racial politics, The Invisible Line will change the way we talk about race, racism, and civil rights.

Three American families’ stories…

The Gibsons
The Gibsons were among the first free people of color in seventeenth-century Virginia, most of whom were free because their mothers were English and by law slavery followed the status of the mother. In the early l700s, as Virginia’s laws made it increasingly difficult for free blacks to own property and earn a living, the Gibsons left the colony for the southern frontier. When the Gibsons reached South Carolina in the 1730s, the colonial assembly worried.that they had come to organize a slave revolt. But after personally interviewing the family, the colonial governor granted them hundreds of acres of land in a Welsh and Scots-Irish community. After one generation they were neither black nor white-they were planters. In the nineteenth century, they rose to the heights of the Southern aristocracy. They sent their sons to Yale and had vast holdings of land and slaves near Vicksburg, Mississippi, Lexington, Kentucky, and Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. Gibsons were rebel officers, powerful opponents of Reconstruction, and leaders of the New South.’ One became a United States Senator from Louisiana.

The Spencers
The Spencers’ story begins in the Appalachian Mountains. In an area that had more slaves and more free blacks than anywhere else in eastern Kentucky-largely because of a bustling salt mining industry there in the early 1800s-two free men of color began having children with a pair of white sisters who had recently moved from South Carolina. Shortly before one man, George Freeman, was prosecuted for interracial sex, the other man, Jordan Spencer-possibly Freeman’s brother or son-moved with his family one hundred miles deeper into the mountains. Even though he was visibly dark-skinned, his new community in Johnson County, Kentucky, decided that he could be white. His family hovered on the line between black and white for the rest of the century, farming and logging in a mountain hollow before heading into the coal mines.

The Walls
The Walls trace their roots to a wealthy plantation owner in Rockingham, North Carolina. Stephen Wall never married, but he had children with three of his slaves, In the 1830s and 1 840s, he freed his children and sent them to Ohio to be raised by radical Quaker abolitionists. He bought land for them, generously supported their education at places like Oberlin College, and willed them a lot of money. No one knows why. He kept their mothers in bondage. The children became ardent abolitionists and served in the Union Army and Freedmen’s Bureau. After the War, several moved to Washington, D.C., where they fought for civil rights and women’s rights and raised their families to expect nothing less than equality. But as Reconstruction gave way to Jim Crow, their children disappeared into the white world.

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You Are Free: Stories

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2011-05-13 02:12Z by Steven

You Are Free: Stories

Riverhead (and Imprint of Penguin Press)
2011-05-03
240 pages
ISBN 9781594485077

Danzy Senna

Each of these eight remarkable stories by Danzy Senna tightrope-walks tantalizingly, sometimes frighteningly, between defined states: life with and without mates and children, the familiar if constraining reference points provided by race, class, and gender. Tensions arise between a biracial couple when their son is admitted to the private school where they’d applied on a lark. A new mother hosts an old friend, still single, and discovers how each of them pities-and envies- the other. A young woman responds to an adoptee in search of her birth mother, knowing it is not she.

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