More Fiction to Read at Home

Happy summer!

With the weather warming up, classes ending, and summertime starting, there’s no better time to find a new book. I understand, though, that finding a new book to read can be tough, so the library is here to help! If you’ve been struggling to pick up a book or can’t decide what to read, here are some great recommendations to start off the summer. All books can be accessed through the library as ebooks or audiobooks. Click titles for catalog access.


Slumberland, Paul Beatty

Booker Award-winning author Paul Beatty’s 2008 novel, Slumberland, tells the story of a Los Angeles DJ who travels to Berlin in search of the perfect person to accompany his latest masterpiece. His journey takes him through the streets of Berlin, where he begins to search for meaning and identity in the world around him. Slumberland is insightful, thoughtful, and, at times, hilarious. Beatty is an incredible writer, and Slumberland is just one novel in an entire catalog of impressive work.

To see other novels by Paul Beatty, click here

 

Machines Like Me, Ian McEwan

McEwan sets his latest novel in an alternate 1980’s London, where England lost the Falklands War, Alan Turing is still alive, and the internet and social media already exist. The story follows Adam–a synthetic human, or android–as he’s acquired by a man named Charlie, who then programs him with the help of a woman named Miranda. McEwan’s novel asks, among several other questions, just what makes us human, and whether machines are capable of understanding human emotion.

To see other novels by Ian McEwan, click here

 

 

All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg

Andrea Bern doesn’t know who she is. Sure, she knows what to tell her therapist, but behind closed doors, she is alone, a drinker, a former artist, and more. While those around her are growing up and having children, she wonders what it really means to be an adult, as she is on a different path than the rest of her siblings and friends. When Andrea’s niece is born with a life-threatening condition, she and her family must come together and reexamine their priorities. Told in a series of vignettes, All Grown Up is a clear demonstration of Attenberg’s skills as a storyteller.

To see other novels by Jami Attenberg, click here

 

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan

After feeling the effects of the Great Recession, Clay Jannon begins working at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, though he soon learns that there is more to this store than books. Customers are rare, and instead of buying anything, they simply check-out various books from odd corners of the store. Curious, Clay devises a plan to research these folks, but when he eventually brings his findings to Mr. Penumbra himself, Clay learns that more secrets await him in the mysterious bookstore.

To see other novels by Robin Sloan, click here.

Twitter Email

Recommended Reading From Lit Lang

Finding the next book to read can be tough. Sometimes you’re overwhelmed by the available options and can’t pick one. Other times, you just may not know what to read. If this sounds like you, Lit Lang is here to help. On today’s blog post, you’ll find a variety of recommendations from various genres. To find these items in the library catalog, simply click on the title.

The Sellout, Paul Beatty 

2016 winner of the Booker Prize, The Sellout is a satire, following the story of the narrator as he discusses his life in Dickens, a lower-income town outside of Los Angeles. After his father is killed in a police shooting and his city of Dickens is wiped off California maps, the narrator decides to take action. With the help of another resident of Dickens, the narrator puts the town into the spotlight by reinstating slavery and segregation in the schools, landing him in the Supreme Court.

 

 

How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi

How to be an Antiracist breaks down the intricacies of racism within society and points the reader towards new ways of thinking about ourselves and others, asking the reader to imagine what an antiracist society looks like and how we can progress towards one through our own actions. Kendi’s 2019 book gives readers the ability to do more than simply acknowledge racism: it gives them the knowledge and tools to help contribute to a truly equitable society.

 

 

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James

 

A finalist for the National Book Award, Black Leopard, Red Wolf follows a mercenary–Tracker–as he tries to find a missing child. As one of the best hunters in the business, it’s no surprise that Tracker is hired to find the child. But when a group decides to join his search, he must abandon his rule of working alone. Filled with African history and mythology, Marlon James’ fantasy novel is a captivating and illuminating work.

 

Afropessimism, Frank Wilderson III

 

Afropessimism is both memoir and philosophy. Exploring how race impacts every aspect of life and society, Frank Wilderson III’s work draws on works of literature, philosophy, film, and critical theory, all while also recounting Wilderson’s experiences as a Black man. A poignant and thought-provoking work, Afropessimism provides a bit of clarity in a chaotic world.

 

 

Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams

 

Queenie is the story of a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, where she works for a newspaper, staffed predominantly by white middle class journalists. As a result, Queenie constantly compares herself to her white peers, and after a tough breakup with her longtime boyfriend, she looks for comfort anywhere she can. As she moves from one choice to another, she begins to question her actions, her reasons, and even her identity. Queenie is a raw, emotional novel exploring what it means to be a modern woman.

Twitter Email

Food in Fiction: Recipes Inspired by Literature

Stressing over finals and needing to relax? Interested in finding a new hobby? Endlessly entertaining (and delicious), cooking and baking are great ways to keep busy and take a break from studying for finals. Plus, once it’s finished, you get to eat whatever you’ve chosen to create! Test your cooking and baking skills or learn a new recipe or two from these dishes, all inspired by food that can be found in fiction.

To see the each recipe individually, click the bold titles. To find the book in the library’s catalog, click on the title of the book at the end of the quote.

Seed Cake, The Hobbit

“A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you, my good sir,” said Balin with the white beard. “But I don’t mind some cake–seed-cake, if you have any.” –The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

Kate Young, creator of the Little Library Café, is an award-winning food writer who has created hundreds of recipes inspired by books, one of which is seed cake, a food taken directly from The Hobbit. A classic English cake, seed cake can be found throughout tons of English literature, but this recipe comes inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien, with a cake fit for any Hobbit’s feast.

Clam Chowder, Moby Dick 

“A warm savory steam from the kitchen served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully explained.” —Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Nothing beats a good clam chowder. Inspired by a recipe from the 1800s,  The Inn at the Crossroads has created a delicious version of clam chowder that would make Captain Ahab proud. And, while you wait for it to cook, you can take a peek at Melville’s Great American Novel, Moby Dick. 

Chocolate Éclairs, Mrs. Dalloway 

“Miss Killman opened her mouth, slightly projected her chin, and swallowed down the last inches of the chocolate éclair, then wiped her fingers, and washed the tea round in her cup.” —Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

Chocolate éclairs are a mouth-watering French classic, but might be intimidating to make. Have no fear! The Food Network has a great (but long) recipe for this sweet that will have you baking in no time! Even though it’s a bit of a lengthy process, you’ll be dining as well as Mrs. Dalloway in no time!

Crumpets, Rebecca

“Those dripping crumpets, I can see them now. Tiny crisp wedges of toast, and piping-hot, flaky scones. Sandwiches of unknown nature, mysteriously flavoured and quite delectable, and that very special gingerbread. Angel cake, that melted in the mouth, and his rather stodgier companion, bursting with peel and raisins. There was enough food there to keep a starving family for a week.” —Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

There was no shortage of recipes available for Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. In just one paragraph there are at least seven mentions of various foods and sweets, all of which sound delicious. The best, by far, though, was the mention of crumpets. A traditionally British treat served at teatime, crumpets are best described as a cross between an English muffin and a pancake that goes well with just about any spread, be it butter, jam, or clotted cream. So give this recipe a try, I’m sure Daphne du Maurier would approve.

Fritelle, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay 

“When the famous fritelle arrived, the girls were elated, and so was Pietro, they fought over them.” —Elena Ferrante, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay 

Fritelle are a classic Italian dessert served during Carnival. Similar to donuts, fritelle are made of yeasted dough which is then fried and can be filled with various types of fillings and dusted with sugar. It’s no surprise Elena Ferrante decided to include these delicious pastries in her book, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third of four books in her Neapolitan Novels. With a simple recipe and intriguing book to go along with it, you’ll be baking authentic fritelle in no time!

Twitter Email

Congratulations to the 2020 Pulitzer Prize Winners for Fiction & Poetry!

After being delayed due to Covid-19, the winners of the Pulitzer Prize were announced via livestream on May 5th, 2020. The winner for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction was Colson Whitehead, for his work The Nickel Boys, and the winner for Poetry was Jericho Brown, for his poetry collection The Tradition.

In addition to the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, Whitehead was awarded the Prize once before in 2017 for his novel, The Underground Railroad. Many of Whitehead’s works can be found in the library, plenty of which are available as ebooks and audiobooks. For more information about Colson Whitehead and his works, you can visit his website and twitter page.

Cover Art

Book. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

Cover Art

E-Audiobook. The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Art

E-Audiobook. The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

Cover Art

E-Audiobook. John Henry Days, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jericho Brown is an American poet and professor at Emory University. In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize, he has also been awarded the American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. For more information on Brown, you can visit his website and twitter page.

Cover Art

Book. The Tradition, by Jericho Brown. Click for catalog link.

Cover Art

Book. Please, by Jericho Brown. Click for catalog link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Art

Book. The New Testaments, by Jericho Brown. Click for catalog link.

 

 

Twitter Email

Award Winning Poetry Collections You Should Read

On the last day of National Poetry Month, we’re celebrating by recommending some of the best, award-winning poetry collections available at the library.

Sight Lines, Arthur Sze 

Cover Art

Sight Lines, by Arthur Sze. Click for catalog link.

 

Sight Lines is the winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry. Juxtaposing moments of beauty and grace with those of threats and terror, Sze evokes images of reality with stunning language. In addition to winning the National Book Award for Poetry, he was also a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, with his collection Compass Rose.

 

 

 

Be With, Forrest Gander 

Cover Art

Be With, by Forrest Gander. Click for catalog link.

 

Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Be With is a poetry collection separated into several sections. The first draws from Gander’s experience as a translator, where he shares a version of a poem by St. John of the Cross. Next, he takes the reader through a series of multilingual poems examining the history of the Mexico-United States border. Finally, Gander shares the emotional story of grappling with his mother’s Alzheimer’s. Moving, emotional, and evocative, Forrest Gander’s award-winning collection is certainly worth reading.

 

 

Voyage of the Sable Venus, Robin Coste Lewis 

Cover Art

Voyage of the Sable Venus, by Robin Coste Lewis. Click for catalog link.

 

Voyage of the Sable Venus is the winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry. It is split into three sections; the first and third are musings on the roles of desire and race in the construction of the self. The second is the poem the collection is named after: “Voyage of the Sable Venus.” This poem is composed entirely using titles of Western artwork depicting, featuring, or commenting on the black female figure. Lewis’s collection explores the question of when, exactly, did ideas of the black female figure begin, and what role did art play in this creation.

 

 

Indecency, Justin Phillip Reed

Cover Art

Indecency, by Justin Phillip Reed. Click for catalog link.

 

The 2018 National Book Award Winner for Poetry, Indecency is a bold collection of poems focusing on injustice and inequity. Reed experiments with language to critique the social order and culture of white supremacy. Personal and insightful, Indecency takes on the difficult task of discussing masculinity, sexuality, the prison industrial complex, and the failure of societal structures.

 

 

 

Life on Mars, Tracy K. Smith 

Cover Art

Life on Mars, by Tracy K. Smith. Click for catalog link.

 

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Life on Mars is a soundtrack to the universe. Smith contemplates the oddities, discoveries, and failures of human existence. Using a sci-fi world free of danger, she reveals the realities of the lives lived here on Earth, sharing stories of trauma, celebrity, and innovation.

Twitter Email

The International Booker Prize Shortlist Has Been Announced!

Since 2004, the International Booker Prize has served as a complement to the Booker Prize. Celebrating translated international literature, the award committee selects a longlist, which is then narrowed to a shortlist. From the shortlist, a winner is selected. Last year, the winning book was Celestial Bodies, by Jokha Alharthi, translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth. This year, the International Booker Prize shortlist features five authors, five different languages, and a vast variety of themes.

Cover Art

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, by Shokoofeh Azar. Click for catalog link.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, Shokoofeh Azar, trans. by Anonymous (Farsi)

Set in Iran, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree follows a family as they live through the fallout and chaos of the Islamic Revolution. Through magical realism and traditional Persian storytelling, Azar weaves a heartfelt tale of love and sorrow, life and death, and politics and religion.

 

 

 

 

Cover Art

The Adventures of China Iron, by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara. Click for catalog link.

The Adventures of China Iron, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, trans. by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh (Spanish)

Cámara’s novel follows the journey of Mrs. China Iron as she travels across the Pampas (South American lowlands). Traveling by wagon, she finds a companion in Liz, who exposes her to the injustices of the world as they move through beautiful flora and fauna. Their adventures bring them to new cultures and peoples, languages, and, unfortunately, political strife. This postcolonial novel is a delightful romp through the Argentinian landscape, while also exposing the effects of British Colonial efforts.

 

 

Cover Art

Tyll, by Daniel Kehlmann. Click for catalog link.

Tyll, Daniel Kehlmann, trans. by Ross Benjamin (German)

Tyll Ulenspiegel is a traditional German folktale, reimagined by Daniel Kehlmann in Tyll. Kehlmann’s novel follows the trickster as he runs across battlefields, goes on quests for royalty, witch-hunters, and nobility, and exposes the wisdom of fools and folly of kings. Placing the German legend in the context of the Thirty Years’ War, Tyll is humorous-yet-dramatic retelling that will certainly entertain readers.

 

 

 

Cover Art

Hurricane Season, by Fernanda Melchor. Click for catalog link.

Hurricane Season, Fernanda Melchor, trans. by Sophie Hughes (Spanish)

Hurricane Season begins with the death of a local witch, who had been helping citizens of La Matosa, a rural Mexican village. The novel explores the events leading up to the woman’s death from multiple perspectives. Though it appears to be a typical mystery, the novel is so much more. Instead of wondering who killed the woman, the book focuses on the why. Brutal and beautiful, Hurricane Season is Melchor’s first novel to be translated into English.

 

 

Cover Art

The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa. Click for catalog link.

The Memory Police, Yoko Ogawa, trans. by Stephen Snyder (Japanese)

Things disappear. People are forgetting. On an unnamed island, a group called the Memory Police make sure that anything that disappears is forgotten. Most islanders don’t remember the objects that disappear, but there remains a select few who live in fear of the Memory Police. Who fear what would happen if it was discovered that they can still remember forgotten things. When a young novelist learns that the Memory Police are after her editor, she hides him in her floorboards, risking both of their lives. Emotional and thought-provoking, The Memory Police is a stunning exploration of a police state.

 

Cover Art

The Discomfort of Evening, by Marieke Lucas Rijnveld. Click for catalog link.

The Discomfort of Evening, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, trans. By Michele Hutchinson (Dutch)

When Jas, daughter of a devout family, finds herself angry at her brother for leaving to go on a ski trip, she makes a devastating plea to God. When her brother never returns, the family is devastated. While they grieve their loss, Jas descends into darkness, imagining disturbing fantasies that threaten the very core of her family. Raw and moving, Rijneveld’s debut novel is striking and unforgettable.

Twitter Email

The Organs of Sense, by Adam Ehrlich Sachs

Posted on behalf of Raka Bhattacharyya

The Organs of Sense: A Novel by [Sachs, Adam Ehrlich]

The Organs of Sense, by Adam Ehrlich Sachs. Click for catalog link.

Where to begin with such an absurd, surreal tale that defies logic, physics, and all concept of sense?

We all must begin somewhere, and I will begin by saying that this is the sort of book that somehow makes enough sense to not make any sense, or it doesn’t make enough sense in order to make actual sense. 

It is the inexplicable tale of an astrologer, who, without eyes, predicted some of the most important and ground-breaking astrological discoveries. To see whether or not the aforementioned astrological events were predicted accurately, young Gottfried Leibnitz braves through the desert to meet with the astrologer. 

What unfolds when the astrologer tells Leibnitz the tale of his life is one of the most surreal, nonsensical tales that you may ever come across. It’s a complex tale of confusion, love, hate, and madness that makes less and less sense the more that you read yet continues to grow on you. The astrologer, being one of the most confounding characters in the stories, continues to grow more and more intriguing despite making less and less sense throughout the story.

Sachs has a skill of endearing us to the human condition, which is clear in this nonsensical story and how it appeals to its readers. While the story is exaggerated, it is this exact quality that I personally admired very deeply. The shared madness of the prince and the king, the loneliness of the astrologer and his strange, disillusioned relationship with his son- all of these interactions have a profound sense of emotion attached to them purely due to their strange nature.

And this is something that humans all have in common- that we all experience things and form inexplicable relationships with one another that we cannot fully comprehend. And this is an aspect of the human nature that Sachs elaborates on and capitalizes on with all of the experiences and interactions of the characters in the story; reassuring the readers that these strange occurrences or bonds that we form need not be completely understood and instead enjoyed. 

Sachs’ work encourages readers to enjoy the bits of life that appeal to us yet never make any sense. 

If you’re looking for the type of book that makes little to no sense but somehow teaches you more about yourself and the other humans around you, look no further, because Adam Ehrlich Sachs’ The Organs of Sense has it down to a T.

Photo by Lulu Liu

Adam Ehrlich Sachs, photo by Lulu Liu. Click for author website.

 

Twitter Email

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Posted on behalf of students in ENGL 350: 21st Century African-American Literature

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Click for catalog link.

Location: Main Stacks
Call Number: 305.800973 C632b

Location: Allen Hall
Call Number: 305.8 C623be

Location: Ikenberry
Call Number: 305.8 C623be

Location: Uni High
Call Number: 305.800973 C632b

Between the World and Me is a 2015 novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The novel is written in two parts; first as a letter from a father to his son, then later as a letter from the same man to his nephew. The novel is semi-autobiographical and recounts the narrator’s experiences growing up Black in inner-city Baltimore. Coates reflects on many issues within the book, including the school system, the police, and street life. Coates uses the metaphor of “the Dream” within the novel to highlight inequalities. While the American dream has traditionally represented the idea that anybody from any background can achieve their goals, Coates’ subverts these ideas though showing how only white people can achieve “the Dream,” emphasizing how they are able to continue to benefit from slavery, racism, and oppression within the United States.

Similarly, Coates introduces the idea that black people’s bodies “don’t belong to them,” drawing attention to the extreme negative effects that the unfair and racist system within America has.

Between the World and Me is a novel about race. Coates disputes that America was built on the backs of slaves and that being Black in America will make him a constant target. He describes how vulnerable black bodies are to police brutality, street fighting, and drug abuse. Coates wants his son to understand what it means to be a Black man in today’s times. Coates talks about “the Dream” is referring to the “American Dream.” He describes it as “perfect houses with nice lawns” and a general sense of accomplishment and well-being that African-Americans rarely achieve because of the lack of privilege. Another important idea and theme in Between the World and Me is Fatherhood. Coates feels responsible for his son’s education as a Black man in America. He wants him to become an intelligent Black man who is able to comprehend what it means to be Black in America. This letter is an attempt to disseminate some of the knowledge Coates has collected over the years to his son.

Between the World and Me is a work that should be read because it gives a voice to the Black male experience without these experiences being told by someone who isn’t a Black man. Most works, especially American literature, that describe experiences within urban communities are often filled with stereotypes and stigmas of Black people. This is, most times, to the detriment of Black men. Yet, the actual voice of the Black men is absent. If a Black man is present, he is often given a voice where he speaks as the antagonist or is silenced by his environment. This silence is as a result of occurrences that led to his demise: police brutality, death, drugs, violence, imprisonment, all of which are many among other catalysts.

However, by Coates taking back his voice he not only breaks the cycles and stigmas placed on him by his society, but his voice is part of an effort to break the chains of the standard Black man experience. By Coates writing this novel to his son, it is his way of showing his son that he too can defy the image of the Black man that imbeds negativity generationally.

We were very moved and inspired by Between the World and Me as we read the painful words and personal experiences Coates underwent, explaining the ways he has studied and lived through them. The aspect that stood out to us the most was the notion of “The Dream.” Coates speaks of this notion as a mass delusion in America, only attainable for white people. We found it very saddening that everyone tries to reach this “dream” but African-Americans strive for something they cannot realistically attain. Referencing his son throughout the text made Coates’ writing very impactful, as his purpose for his writing is to warn his son of issues such as police brutality, institutional racism, and the need for an education to survive, ultimately preparing him for a life in an environment that treats African Americans as inferior.

Ta-Nehisi Coates. Click for author website.

Twitter Email

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

Posted on behalf of students in ENGL 350: 21st Century African-American Literature

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Click for catalog link.

Location: Center for Childrens Books (non-circulating)
Call Number: S. T3614ha

Location: Allen Hall
Call Number: 813 T3614ha

Location: Florida Ave Residence Hall
Call Number: 813 T3614ha

Location: Ikenberry
Call Number: 813 T3614ha

Location: Illinois Street Residence Hall
Call Number: 813 T3614ha

Location: Uni High Fiction
Call Number: Fiction T3614ha

The Hate U Give is a novel written by Angie Thomas. She focuses on the life of a black 16 year old teenager, Starr Carter. Starr lives in Garden Heights but goes to Williamson Prep, a private school with predominantly white students. This causes conflict in Starr’s life because she often has to switch back-and-forth between personalities. She doesn’t want to be ghetto compared to her school friends and she doesn’t want to seem too white when around the neighborhood kids. Thomas also focuses on racism, brutality from the police, and using your voice to make a change. Two of Starr’s childhood friends were killed. Natasha was killed in a crossfire. Khalil was killed in front of Starr by the police. This causes things to be shaken up in Starr’s life. She wants justice for Khalil.

Her friends at Williamson don’t understand her primarily because she comes from a different background. So, when they ask Starr about Khalil she denies knowing him. Although, that was her best friend for as long as she can remember. Khalil wasn’t a saint but he did what he needed to do to provide for his family. He was killed by an officer because his brush was mistaken for a gun. With nobody to talk to, this fills Starr with grief, fear, confusion and anger. As a witness to Khalil’s death she begins to actively protest for him when the officer does not take blame for wrongfully killing Khalil and is not indicted. These are real problems for Starr. However, her school friends use this as an excuse to ditch school. Some even believe the officer did the right thing because he killed a drug dealer. This leads Starr to act distant, including from her white boyfriend, Chris.

Things aren’t so great in the Garden Heights. Starr’s father, Mav, is a former member of a gang. He tries his best to steer his kids away from having a life like that. On the other hand there is King. King is the person “feeds” the neighborhood streets. The neighborhood eventually turns on King when they realize he does more damage than good. Mav also learns to accept his kids for who they are and trust that he has raised them to do the right things. This includes him finally accepting that Starr has a white boyfriend. Starr leaves readers with the thought that she will not remain silent and she will continue to be an activist and fight the injustices around her.

The idea of this text is to bring light to the issues that exist with racism and stereotypes in the modern day. Thomas’s main point was to show how racism can manifest in your own neighborhood. It can be shown through violence and/or police brutality. She shows how the main character, Starr, handles a situation when she is faced with discrimination from her peers, authorities such as police officers, and judges. This helps Starr find her identity in her blackness. Thomas’s purpose was to help other teens gain political awareness and to develop the courage to use their voices to stand up for justice.

People should read this book to gain an inside look into the effects of police violence and brutality on the lives of African Americans within the United States. In addition, this book would be useful for people who want to gain more knowledge on the African American community who live in current day society of the United States; Additionally, this novel can help an individual understand how the media portrays police brutality when it involves white-on-black violence, as well as the unfairness and racial biases that still exist within the criminal justice system.

Reading the book was an astounding and an eye opening experience for me. The author took current news and tragedies and made it into such a beautiful masterpiece. I really love the fact that the author emphasized Starr’s feelings and how the death of her friend affected her. I Also love how Starr’s parents were very supportive after she witnessed her friend get murdered by the police for simply holding a hairbrush. Altogether, this was a very emotional novel. Beautifully written and put together.

Angie Thomas. Click for author webpage.

Twitter Email

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Posted on behalf of students in ENGL 350: 21st Century African-American Literature

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. Click for catalog link.

Location: Undergrad
Call Number: PS3573.H4768 U53 2016

Location: Uni High Fiction
Call Number: Fiction W587u

Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad tells the story of Cora, a teenage girl escaping slavery via a reimagined, literal, underground railroad. The ensemble of her helpers and hunters changes as she moves from state to state, and Whitehead gets in the minds of everyone who leaves an impact on her. Cora grows up throughout the novel, contemplating her past, present, and future to uncover truths about the possibilities of Blackness in America.

The novel plays with time, place, and point of view to make its audience think about trauma and privilege in American history. Whitehead is bold and honest, reminding readers of the physical, emotional, and economic violence America allows and encourages Black women to endure within its borders.

The finished-the-book feeling that lingers after the last page of The Underground Railroad is painful, and for that reason, it’s an important read. Whitehead’s choices in terms of timing and fantasy within a piece of historical fiction are impressive. His use of philosophy and point of view is impactful. Apart from being something to learn from, The Underground Railroad is a book that begs to be talked about.

In between chapters, I found myself ranting to my roommates about how I felt for the characters. Whitehead gave me words to better understand and explain my own experiences as a Black girl in America. If you choose to read this book (and you should definitely read this book), just understand that Whitehead won’t try to make you happy, but he’ll make you think about your life, your freedom, and your future.

Colson Whitehead. Click for author webpage.

Twitter Email