Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In Motion: African American Migration

I hope everyone is enjoying The Warmth of Other Suns as much as I am. Learning so much about the world and experiences of people like my parents has been fascinating.

I've already recommended Isabel Wilkerson's website, with its photos of the Gladneys, Fosters, and Starlings, and video interviews with Wilkerson on her research for the book.. If you'd like to learn even more about the Great Migration, take a look at the Schomburg Library's online exhibit: In Motion: The African American Migration Experience. You'll find newspaper articles, photos, maps, and excerpts from reference books that help put Wilkerson's book in perspective. The site also covers other migratory periods for African Americans, from the slave trade through recent African and Caribbean immigration to the United States.

See you on December 13th!

Monday, November 21, 2011

African American fantasy writers

Lord of the Rings. Game of Thrones. Narnia. All are wildly popular fantasy series set in alternate worlds that re-create ancient or medieval Europe. Yet who says fantasy is the unique domain of Teutonic or Norse inspired myths?

Not N.K. Jemisin or David Anthony Durham. Both are African American authors writing in the high fantasy tradition. Jemisin, creator of the Inheritance Trilogy, creates complex mythologies involving characters living at the margins of their societies. Durham, author of the Acacia Trilogy, takes a similarly inventive look at the brutality and moral ambiguity in great empires. Both authors feature multi-racial casts of characters, and deal with the ethics of slavery and cultural subjugation. For an excellent article on these two writers, and other African Americans in fantasy, see Laura Miller's piece, "If Tolkien Were Black", in the current Salon magazine. And take a look at EPL's list of Africa and African Americans in Science Fiction for more reading ideas!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New From Lorene Cary

Another great discussion Tuesday night! We were happy to welcome 2 new participants, who brought their own memories and impressions of the young Muhammad Ali to the conversation. Thanks brothers!

Next month, we'll be doing Isabelle Wilkerson's award winning The Warmth of Other Sons, so start registering to get your copy! We'll meet on December 13th at 7:00.

I've been digging around for new African American authors, and rediscovered an old favorite, Lorene Cary. Her 1992 memoir Black Ice brought home the painful challenges of her experience as a black teen  integrating a white, primarily male eastern prep school. She followed it up with Pride a novel expolring the friendships between four high achieving African American women.

Her latest, If Sons, Then Heirs , tells "a complex story of family, race, and the challenges of reconciling the present with a persistent past". Issues of property, attachment to land, and racist inheritance laws all play a role in this gripping family drama. Cary give us plenty to think about!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Updates: King of the World, Silver Sparrow, The Warmth of Other Suns

Greetings, AAL fans! I look forward to seeing all of you next Tuesday night, November 8th for our discussion of King of the World. As usual we will be meeting in the Small Meeting room on the 1st floor, near the east door.
  If you’re not very familiar with boxing (I sure wasn’t!)   you might want to watch some of the videos of the Ali/Liston fight, available for free on YouTube. Here’s a good one, which also has interviews with Jimmy Cannon, Angelo Dundee, and others who appear in the book: 

 Last weekend I had the enormous pleasure of discussing our April book, Silver Sparrow, with the author, Tayari Jones on Blacklit chat. The discussion has been archived and is well worth reading.  Lots of great insights into the motivations of Jones’ well-drawn, complicated characters. Ms Jones has a discussion guide on her website as well.

Up next in December: Isabelle Wilkerson's award winning account of the Great Migration north, The Warmth of Other Suns. There's an online discussion guide , and Ms Wilkerson has a wonderful web site with reviews, more discussion questions, video clips, and historical details. 

Happy reading!