Your Face in Mine, A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2014-08-15 06:22Z by Steven

Your Face in Mine, A Novel

Riverhead Books (an imprint of Penguin Press)
2014-08-14
384 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781594488344
ePub ISBN: 9780698168817

Jess Row

An award-winning writer delivers a poignant and provocative novel of identity, race and the search for belonging in the age of globalization.

One afternoon, not long after Kelly Thorndike has moved back to his hometown of Baltimore, an African American man he doesn’t recognize calls out to him. To Kelly’s shock, the man identifies himself as Martin, who was one of Kelly’s closest friends in high school—and, before his disappearance nearly twenty years before, skinny, white, and Jewish. Martin then tells an astonishing story: After years of immersing himself in black culture, he’s had a plastic surgeon perform “racial reassignment surgery”—altering his hair, skin, and physiognomy to allow him to pass as African American. Unknown to his family or childhood friends, Martin has been living a new life ever since.

Now, however, Martin feels he can no longer keep his new identity a secret; he wants Kelly to help him ignite a controversy that will help sell racial reassignment surgery to the world. Kelly, still recovering from the death of his wife and child and looking for a way to begin anew, agrees, and things quickly begin to spiral out of control.

Inventive and thought-provoking, Your Face in Mine is a brilliant novel about cultural and racial alienation and the nature of belonging in a world where identity can be a stigma or a lucrative brand.

Tags: ,

The Colonel’s Dream

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels on 2014-08-06 22:20Z by Steven

The Colonel’s Dream

West Virginia University Press
October 2014 (originally published in 1905)
352 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-935978-91-6
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-940425-23-8
ePub ISBN: 978-1-935978-93-0
PDF ISBN: 978-1-935978-92-3

Charles W. Chesnutt

Edited by:

R. J. Ellis, Professor of American Studies
University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

Charles Waddell Chesnutt (1858-1932) was an African American writer, essayist, Civil Rights activist, legal-stenography businessman, and lawyer whose novels and short stories explore race, racism, and the problematic contours of African Americans’ social and cultural identities in post-Civil War South. He was the first African American to be published by a major American publishing house and served as a beacon-point for future African American writers.

The Colonel’s Dream, written in 1905, is a compelling tale of the post-Civil War South’s degeneration into a region awash with virulent racist practices against African Americans: segregation, lynchings, disenfranchisement, convict-labor exploitation, and endemic violent repression. The events in this novel are powerfully depicted from the point of view of a philanthropic but unreliable southern white colonel. Upon his return to the South, the colonel learns to abhor this southern world, as a tale of vicious racism unfolds. Throughout this narrative, Chesnutt confronts the deteriorating position of African Americans in an increasingly hostile South. Upon its publication The Colonel’s Dream was considered too controversial and unpalatable because of its bitter criticisms of southern white prejudice and northern indifference, and so this groundbreaking story failed to gain public attention and acclaim.

This is the first scholarly edition of The Colonel’s Dream. It includes an introduction and notes by R. J. Ellis and works to reestablish this great novel’s reputation.

Tags: , , , ,

Now We Will Be Happy

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Novels, United States on 2014-08-05 18:04Z by Steven

Now We Will Be Happy

University of Nebraska Press
September 2014
140 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8032-5539-5

Amina Gautier
Department of English
University of Miami

Winner of the 2013 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction

Now We Will Be Happy is a prize-winning collection of stories about Afro-Puerto Ricans, U.S.-mainland-born Puerto Ricans, and displaced native Puerto Ricans who are living between spaces while attempting to navigate the unique culture that defines Puerto Rican identity. Amina Gautier’s characters deal with the difficulties of bicultural identities in a world that wants them to choose only one.

The characters in Now We Will Be Happy are as unpredictable as they are human. A teenage boy leaves home in search of the mother he hasn’t seen since childhood; a granddaughter is sent across the ocean to broker peace between her relatives; a widow seeks to die by hurricane; a married woman takes a bathtub voyage with her lover; a proprietress who is the glue that binds her neighborhood cannot hold on to her own son; a displaced wife develops a strange addiction to candles.

Crossing boundaries of comfort, culture, language, race, and tradition in unexpected ways, these characters struggle valiantly and doggedly to reconcile their fantasies of happiness with the realities of their existence.

Read an excerpt here.

Tags: ,

Everything I Never Told You: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels 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.

Tags: ,

Mexican WhiteBoy

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2014-07-30 18:19Z by Steven

Mexican WhiteBoy

Random House Kids
2008-08-12
256 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-385-73310-6
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-440-23938-3

Matt de la Peña

  

  • WINNER – LatinoStories.com Top Ten New Latino Authors to Watch (and Read) (2009)
  • WINNER – Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book (2008)
  • WINNER – ALA Best Books for Young Adults
  • NOMINEE – Arizona Young Readers Award
  • NOMINEE – New Jersey Garden State Teen Book Award

Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.

But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.

That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see–the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.

Set in the alleys and on the ball fields of San Diego County, Mexican Whiteboy is a story of friendship, acceptance, and the struggle to find your identity in a world of definitions.

Tags: ,

Go Stand Upon the Rock

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Novels, Slavery, United States on 2014-05-24 22:32Z by Steven

Go Stand Upon the Rock

CreateSpace
2014-05-20
300 pages
9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
Paperback ISBN-10: 1494211564; ISBN-13: 978-1494211561

Samuel Michael Lemon, Program Director
Continuing Adult and Professional Studies
Neumann University, Aston, Pennsylvania

From stories handed down by my grandmother about how our ancestors fought to be free.

Go Stand Upon the Rock is a deeply moving story based on real people and events in the lives of a runaway slave and his family, who witness some of the most compelling moments in antebellum American history. It is a tale of unsettling plantation life, courageous women, dramatic Civil War battles, heroes and hoodoo, and the indomitable strength of the human spirit. This novel is based on the family history handed down to me by my maternal grandmother, Maud Ray Ridley Ortiga—the granddaughter of former runaway slaves. Fiercely proud of our ancestors, I spent countless hours at my grandmother’s table, committing this history to memory as we poured over a trove of antique family photographs. I grew to love these forebears who died long before I was born, and I eventually became the family historian. This made me determined to achieve two lifelong goals. The first was to see that my ancestors no longer rested in unmarked graves. The second was to solve the mysteries of who we were, where we came from and how we came to be. After my ancestors escaped from slavery in the mid-1860s, no one in my family had ever returned to our places of origin—in fact, no one even knew where they were.

What began as a noble quest to uncover my roots became a cultural detective story, with only the names of the plantations and slave quarters serving as paltry clues. As I grew into adulthood, I discovered the remarkable accuracy of the age-old family tradition of oral history, and everything my beloved grandmother told me proved to be true. I added to this body of knowledge through historical and genealogical research at the National Archives, the U.S. Census, and countless books and websites, all of which enabled me to turn my love of family history into a doctoral dissertation at one of the most distinguished academic institutions in America—the University of Pennsylvania—where I earned a doctorate in Education, Culture, and Society in 2007.

The story begins on the Bonnie Doon plantation in Southampton County, Virginia, where my ancestor Cornelius Ridley—the mulatto son of his wealthy, slavemaster/father—was born in 1839—eight years after Nat Turner’s Rebellion. But no rosy or revisionist retrospective on genteel plantation society, this book examines the historical events and complex social and sometimes biological relationships between masters and slaves. Go Stand Upon the Rock is a tapestry of interwoven stories of a remarkable family’s journey through history that began with my great-great grandfather Cornelius Ridley’s epic 300 mile walk to freedom in the North to escape from bondage on his putative father’s plantation.

It also follows his wife Martha Jane Parham, as she strives to escape her horrible fate as a breeding woman on the neighboring Fortsville Plantation. Learning what she endured made an indelible impact on me. Unlike her husband who was able to pass for white, they were forced to escape separately. And the story follows her perilous flight with two young children, to the safety of a company of U.S. Colored Troops, where she meets a young black soldier from Pennsylvania who is wounded during one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War—the Battle of New Market Heights—who has an unexpected role in her life half a century later.

This first part of the Ridley family saga draws to a close with Cornelius and Martha Jane’s brilliant son William—a pioneering African American law student—who miraculously survives a hail of bullets in the midst of a dangerous political dispute in Chester, Pennsylvania, that nearly ends his life and legal career captured in detail in local contemporary newspaper accounts just one month before his marriage to an elegant, mysterious clairvoyant woman from the Danish West Indies in October 1889. Telling the story of my ancestors is a debt I have longed owed them, because they are giants upon whose shoulders I stand today. And there is much more of their saga to tell.

Tags: , , , , ,

Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel

Posted in Books, New Media, Novels, Passing on 2014-03-04 04:43Z by Steven

Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel

Riverhead Press (an imprint of Penguin Press)
2014-03-06
320 pages
5.74 x 8.58in
Hardcover ISBN: 9781594631399

Helen Oyeyemi

From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty, and vanity.

In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.

A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.

Tags: ,

Elsie’s Business

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Novels on 2014-02-14 01:57Z by Steven

Elsie’s Business

University of Nebraska Press
2006
216 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8032-9865-1

Frances Washburn, Associate Professor of American Indian Studies and English
University of Arizona

Beaten, raped, and left for dead at the side of a road on the Standing Rock Reservation, young Elsie Roberts disappears into her self to revisit the haunts of her childhood and, perhaps, the depths of her experience to uncover the deepest mystery of all. In Elsie’s Business, Elsie’s search through her own memories ultimately intersects with the search of a stranger who is seeking Elsie’s story.

A picture emerges of a poor child, half black and half Native, whose mother has barely eked out a living for the two of them by tanning deerskins and cleaning houses. Rebuilding her life in a different town as a housekeeper, tanner, and beader of moccasins and bags, much like her mother, the taciturn Elsie finds modest comfort and connections among the white people who employ and befriend her. But her peace is fleeting, for someone from her past, or possibly her present, would like to see her silenced completely. A mystery of mesmerizing suspense and sadness, Elsie’s Business weaves the story of a ravaged woman into the traditional tales of her people to create a vivid sense of communities bound by storytelling and understanding and sundered by ignorance and silence.

Tags: ,

Flight: A Novel

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2014-01-25 18:12Z by Steven

Flight: A Novel

Louisiana State University Press
April 1998 (Originally published in 1926)
304 pages
5.50 x 8.50 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780807122808

Walter White (1893-1955)

Published amid controversy in 1926, Flight focuses on the dilemma of Mimi Daquin, a light-complexioned African American woman who passes, for a time, as white. In the New Orleans of her birth, Mimi never encountered the hierarchies of skin color that existed elsewhere. But when her family moves to Atlanta, she embarks on a lifelong lesson about what it really means to belong to a people. From the Atlanta riot of 1906 to her shameful expulsion from black bourgeois society because of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, to her working-class status in Philadelphia and Harlem, Mimi eventually decides to escape her miseries by passing for white in New York City. There, her success exceeds her expectations but even so cannot quell a recurrent yearning.

Walter White (1893–1955), a blond-haired, blue-eyed African American, was a native of Atlanta and an adopted New Yorker. His other works are the novel Fire in the Flint and an autobiography, A Man Called White. He was a major figure in the NAACP for more than three decades.

Tags: , , ,

The Widows

Posted in Books, Canada, Media Archive, Novels, Women on 2013-12-26 23:25Z by Steven

The Widows

NeWest Press
April 1998
256 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-896300-30-6

Suzette Mayr

Hannelore, Clotilde, and Frau Schnadelhuber are three old women tired of living in a world which does not allow old women to be seen or heard. Deciding to shake their fists at such a world, the three women plot to go over Niagara Falls in a bright orange space-age barrel. With the assistance of Cleopatra Maria, the 26-year-old genius granddaughter of Hannelore and grandniece of Clotilde, the four women steal the barrel from a travelling show and drive it across Canada determined to prove their worth to a world devoted to youth.

Tags: ,