So I just got this message all the way from Kentucky! Super excited that my book is going to be read by more women, and that my work is going to reach people in another country! 🤗🤗🤗🤗
I’ve had some challenges over the last week but this is a well needed and very welcome boost.
In other writing news, I have now completed two versions of my short story on survival ‘That Gleaming Moment- Notes on Survival’. In two weeks I will be submitting them to the Bridport international writers prize and The Guardian BAME writers competition. 🤞🏾🤞🏾🤞🏾🤞🏾
Today is the 1st of April and I am entering the fourth month of my reading challenge. I must be honest. I have found this list a challenge. Not because I haven’t enjoyed the books I have read so far, but because I have a very specific weakness. Firstly fantasy novels and secondly a need for undemanding reads when I am tired.
Fantasy novels allow me to dream and experience worlds past and future. I enjoy stories of young men and women discovering powers they did not know they possess and the journey this takes them on. I love archaic language and medieval stories of wily queens, chivalrous bandits and princes. I love period dress. The words ‘armour’, ‘magic’, ‘bodice’ and ‘charmed gem stones’ enchant me in a unique way. I am currently working my way through the epic saga ‘The Wheel of Time’ and I couldn’t resist reading book 9, despite having read my first, very good fantasy novel by a woman of colour:
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K Jemisin.
I ordered the book as a treat for myself (I have to love a book to buy it!) and I did enjoy it. Its a tale of a courageous girl away from home who has to use her wits and make new alliances. It was just a bit light for me given that I am in thrall to Game of Thrones where each book is 500 pages and there are a 20 plots and 50 subplots. I did develop a crush on one of the characters though, and I liked that female desire was addressed. It was also a big positive that the protagonist was a girl of colour and that there were other characters of different races. It was nice to recognise yourself/ approximations of your culture in print. I would recommend this book to a teenager or as a light fantasy read. 7/10
I was however, very impressed by No Place Like Home by Gary Younge. Starting in the 1990s in Stevenage, Younge describes his youth and how he attempts to construct his racial identity of being born in the UK but being of Caribbean descent and living in an almost entirely white and English environment.I identified with many of his comments on this racial and cultural complexity and its was these observations of being black in the UK that made this book stand out for me. However the young Gary set off to America to follow in the steps of the freedom fighters, a unique journey to take and one that I had recently seen depicted in The Butler. His observations of being a black Briton in America and how he is received; his perceptions of the black middle class in Atlanta and meeting those that had been part of or witnessed the freedom rides made it an excellent and inspiring read. This is the type of book I want to write. 9/10
So below is my list so far:
- Coolie Woman/ Gaiutra Bahadur (Indo- Guyanese)
- Pride of Carthage & Acacia: War with the Mein Bk. 1 / David Anthony Durham (African American)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy 1) / N. K. Jemisin (African American)
The bastard of Istanbul & The gaze / Elif Shafak (Turkish)
The museum of innocence : a novel / Orhan Pamuk (Turkish)
- Fictions / Jorge Luis Borges (Argentinian)
- The fall of the stone city & The Palace of Dreams / Ismail Kadare (Albanian)
- Arabian nights and days / Naguib Mahfouz (Egyptian)
- Witchbroom & Light falling on bamboo/ Lawrence Scott (Trinidadian)
- When the Only Light Is Fire / Saeed Jones (African American/ LGBT)
- The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao & This is how you lose her / Junot Diáz (Dominican)
- We need new names / NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwean)
Ghana must go / Tayie Selasi ( Ghananian)
- Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital / Lloyd Bradley (Black British)
- Twelve Tribes of Hattie / Ayana Mathis (African American)
- Sugar in the blood : a family’s story of slavery and empire / Andrea Stuart (Bajan/Barbadian)
Their Eyes Were Watching God / Zora Neale Hurston (African American)
Those in italics are currently sitting on my bedside table, waiting for me to finish the tome that is ‘Backlash’ by Susan Faludi for feminist book club. Feel free to make suggestions! My next update will be on ‘Ghana Must Go’ and ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’.
As some of you may know, one of my new year’s resolutions was to read more female writers and also more writers of colour. Whilst many of my favourite authors are women: Jilly Cooper, Margaret Atwood, Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery, I felt that there was room to read and buy more books by authors from a non Western/ White/ male perspective. I created a pretty extensive list in January (read it here) and since then I have read some great books and have been really enjoying discovering new authors and their perspectives. Here is my first month of reading.
January I started the new year with two Turkish authors- Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak.
And I fell in love with both authors lyrical descriptions of Turkey. The Museum of Innocence is set in the period 1975 to 1984 in Istanbul. The book is ultimately an ode to love/obsession and kept me up all night wanting to know how the story would end. However, The Bastard of Istanbul had me hooked from the beginning. Shafak is courageous, she writes about religion, genocide and cultural identity whilst engaging the reader with a host of female and family characters. This book is set in contemporary Turkey and the US. I don’t want to give any spoilers but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and that led me to her book the Forty Rules of Love. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of discovering a new life and love and even more the interwoven story of Rumi (an epic medieval Persian poet and Sufi) and his meeting with the Sufi dervish Shams-e Tabrizi. The book has a strong mystical feel and is concerned with the philosophy and spirituality underpining the lives we lead. I have quoted the book several times on this blog which is my own personal endorsement of how much I got from it.
The Museum of Innocence – 8 out of 10. I disliked the ending and the lack of female voices throughout but otherwise an excellent book. The writing is great.
The Bastard of Istanbul- 9 out of 10. An excellent read, my favourite.
The Forty Rules of Love -7.5 out of 10. A great read but not as memorable as the others. Would recommend to anyone questioning their life/ relationships around them.
Next- I start my journey into Fantasy wrote by a woman and POC, and learn about the Freedom riders in the US…