A Kind of Freedom (Margaret Wilkerson Sexton)

U.S.A. / 2017

A beautiful debut novel about a black family's generational legacy in New Orleans. This is a homey book with a lot of heart. The story is told so well. Sexton navigates through time and viewpoints so effortlessly. A young and naive woman named Evelyn's choice to wed a controversial guy trickles down to her daughter and then her grandchildren, showing how our own selfish desires can impact our future children. Kirkus Reviews called this book "A multigenerational exploration of systemic racism in America." But to me this books feels more about how the choice to love someone has lasting repurcussions. I really liked this book a lot. It's subtle and succinctly written. 
Sexton handles sweeping ideas in personal, intimate narratives. I especially loved to see the way that women were portrayed. It was robust and heartbreaking—it all feel too real. I give this one 4.5/5. I think it left some info out and ended kind of abruptly—even though the ending was perfect. Read this book!

Never Look an American in the Eye (Okey Ndibe)

"Unlike my parents and grandparents, I grew up in a world in which the British were a rarity, hardly physically present. In fact, through my secondary school days, I don't remember any direct interaction with an Englishman or woman. Even so, Britain and the British exercised a claim on my imagination, on the consciousness of my generation. We read, memorized, and digested textbooks that unabashedly gave credit to the British for discovering every significant geographic landmark in Nigeria, Africa, and the rest of the world. One of them, a Scottish explorer named Mungo Park, had discovered the river Niger, one of Africa's most majestic bodies of water. Even though the river flows through Onitsha, my mother's hometown, it never occurred to me to wonder whether the Africans, who for millennia had lived on the banks of the great river, had all been afflicted with blindness."

"Unlike my parents and grandparents, I grew up in a world in which the British were a rarity, hardly physically present. In fact, through my secondary school days, I don't remember any direct interaction with an Englishman or woman. Even so, Britain and the British exercised a claim on my imagination, on the consciousness of my generation. We read, memorized, and digested textbooks that unabashedly gave credit to the British for discovering every significant geographic landmark in Nigeria, Africa, and the rest of the world. One of them, a Scottish explorer named Mungo Park, had discovered the river Niger, one of Africa's most majestic bodies of water. Even though the river flows through Onitsha, my mother's hometown, it never occurred to me to wonder whether the Africans, who for millennia had lived on the banks of the great river, had all been afflicted with blindness."

Nigeria / 2016

"Okey Ndibe’s funny, charming, and penetrating memoir tells of his move from Nigeria to America, where he came to edit the influential—but perpetually cash-strapped—African Commentary magazine. It recounts stories of Ndibe’s relationships with Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and other luminaries; examines the differences between Nigerian and American etiquette and politics; recalls an incident of racial profiling just thirteen days after he arrived in the US, in which he was mistaken for a bank robber; considers American stereotypes about Africa (and vice-versa); and juxtaposes African folk tales with Wall Street trickery. All these stories and more come together in a generous, encompassing book about the making of a writer and a new American." — Soho Press.

On Beauty (Zadie Smith)

"People talk about the happy quiet that can exist between two lovers, but this too was great; sitting between his sister and brother, saying nothing, eating...He did not consider if or how or why they love him. They were just love; they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away."

"People talk about the happy quiet that can exist between two lovers, but this too was great; sitting between his sister and brother, saying nothing, eating...He did not consider if or how or why they love him. They were just love; they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away."

U.K. / 2005

"On Beauty is the story of an interracial family living in the university town of Wellington, Massachusetts, whose misadventures in the culture wars-on both sides of the Atlantic-serve to skewer everything from family life to political correctness to the combustive collision between the personal and the political." — Penguin Random House

Hairdresser of Harare (Tendai Huchu)

“It’s difficult to stop loving someone, even when they have done something that you once thought unforgivable. There isn’t an on off switch for love.”

“It’s difficult to stop loving someone, even when they have done something that you once thought unforgivable. There isn’t an on off switch for love.”

Zimbabwe / 2010

"Vimbai is the best hairdresser in Mrs. Khumalo’s salon, and she is secure in her status until the handsome, smooth-talking Dumisani shows up one day for work. Despite her resistance, the two become friends, and eventually, Vimbai becomes Dumisani’s landlady. He is as charming as he is deft with the scissors, and Vimbai finds that he means more and more to her. Yet, by novel’s end, the pair’s deepening friendship—used or embraced by Dumisani and Vimbai with different futures in mind—collapses in unexpected brutality." — Goodreads.

The Face: Cartography of the Void (Chris Abani)

"In the end, we each must decide how comfortable we are with how much we hurt other people."

"In the end, we each must decide how comfortable we are with how much we hurt other people."

Nigeria / 2014

"The Face" series is a series of personal nonfiction in which a diverse group of writers takes readers on a guided tour of that most intimate terrain: their own faces...In The Face: Cartography of the Void, acclaimed poet, novelist, and screenwriter Chris Abani has given us a brief memoir that is, in the best tradition of the genre, also an exploration of the very nature of identity. Abani meditates on his own face, beginning with his early childhood that was immersed in the Igbo culture of West Africa. The Face is a lush work of art that teems with original and profound insights into the role of race, culture, and language in fashioning our sense of self." — Restless Books.
 

Rachel's Blue (Zakes Mda)

South Africa / 2016

"In Athens, Ohio, old high school friends Rachel Boucher and Jason de Klerk reconnect­ and rekindle a relationship that quickly becomes passionate. Initially, all seems well. Not only the couple, but their friends and family, are happy at this unexpected conjunction. But then Rachel meets someone else. Jason’s anger boils over into violence—violence that turns the community on its head, pitting friends and neighbors against one another." — Goodreads.