Homegoing tells the diverging, centuries-long tale of two sisters—one enslaved, the other married to the slaver—and the generations that follow from Asanteland to the streets of Baltimore and beyond. The alternating chronology of each successive family member creates an allegorical structure in which Gyasi unspools the unique thread of their individual stories. Homegoing is both a monumental undertaking and an intimate look into histories, personal and familial, punctuated by the pain of what could have so easily been and the longing for what could be. With this utterly impressive first novel, Gyasi enriches the already vitally significant canon of West African literature.
Lindanathi and his two friends, all HIV-positive, are perpetually wallowing in the huffed-glue haze of their Last Life, the apathetic and mundane subsistence afforded them by their disease. When they meet a masked mysterio who wants to buy the anti-retroviral drugs they’ve been selling illegally, the group’s fragile reality is challenged and Nathi is forced to confront the bitter truths of his past and a promise unkept. The Reactive, with its stunning and pointed observations, commands us to hear a story that isn’t beautiful, if only to find a cure for a disease different than we expect but that we suffer from all the same.
Thunder Boy Jr. is a rambunctious, energetic, and enthusiastic young man (sound familiar?), yet despite all his interests, he still yearns for a name distinct from his father’s. Rarely do we see a picture book that dares to be so casually vibrant and humorous while still managing to address two of the most essential tenets of great children’s literature: identity and agency. Alexie, through the eyes of Thunder Boy Jr., presents us with exactly this and more. A truly wonderful addition to any young mind or any little library.
With his new job as chauffeur for Clark Edwards, senior executive at Lehman Brothers, Cameroonian immigrant Jende Jonga and his family are finally gaining ground on their American dream. But when the Great Recession throws their meager subsistence into turmoil, their family secrets threaten to disrupt the Edwards' goodwill on which they depend. Their loyalties are tested, and the Jongas are forced to consider which dreams are worth abandoning. Mbue is a master storyteller, and her novel (yet another incredible debut from a first generation African-American) is at once an honest portrait of an individual’s morally depraved actions and a weightless, humanizing testimony of the reasons and love behind them.
King T’Challa sits precariously on the throne of Wakanda, the world’s most advanced society. His people, with the help of mystic and femme revolutionaries, have turned against him, ashamed of their king. Increasingly dire obstacles make maintaining peace difficult, especially when one of T'Challa's obstacles is himself. Coates steps confidently, albeit for the first time, into the graphic novel genre, wielding Black Panther’s story expertly and illuminating matters of race, gender, power, and class in a manner both symbolic and prescient. Stelfreeze and Martin’s bold art captures the chaos and depth of meaning with a uniquely modern, pan-African aesthetic in this highly anticipated first volume.
This is one of those rare books (like Blueberries for Sal and Where the Wild Things Are) on which one looks back with great warmth. With great kindness and compassion, Cuevas tells the story of a hermit whose duty it is to deliver all the otherwise perpetually-bobbing, lonely-heart messages contained in ocean bottles. In the course of delivering a mysterious party invitation, he finds the cure for his own loneliness. Cuevas does not take his young audience for granted, sprinkling in heart-ringing metaphors, the beauty of which are only matched by Stead’s large swathes of richly-textured color gently embraced by the most intimately drawn lines.
-Booknotes Fall 2016