Tag Archives: summer reading

#BookClubMadu August 2016

Add a little bit of body text-2

 

We are so excited to share with you this month’s book!

Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing has been the latest rave in the world of literature and we thought it would be super awesome to have our readers right in!

IN ADDITION TO OUR AUGUST BOOK RELEASE, AfroMadu has teamed up with Urban One Radio to host a #BookClubMadu BI-WEEKLY PODCAST!!!!! Yes, a podcast to talk about books, culture, and everything in between. How cool is that?!?!?

Here’s how this month’s book will work:

-Discussions will be held on afromadu.com and on twitter, @afromadu.Throughout the week, we will be posting questions and quotes from Homegoing. 

-On August 14th, we will host our very first show, highlighting the first portion of the book. Readers are able to email us thoughts and questions about the book. Submission emails must be in before Thursday, August 11th.

We are so happy to be back with all of this exciting news. Are you? Happy reading! #BookClubMadu

IMG_0859.JPG

Homegoing’s schedule is as follows:

August 1st-14th: Part One (pages 1-153)

August 15th-31st: Part Two (pages 154-300)

Tweet us, email us, or find us on our social media sites using the hashtag, #BookClubMadu!

Between The World And Me, And Every Other Black Man.

ta-nehisi-coates-new-york-magazine

 

More times than others, I read books that compliment my moods. If I am happy, I will not even think to touch a Toni Morrison, but rather consider some work from Maya. When I want to feel hopeful, Ill grab Zora Neale. And on a rainy day, shade is usually being thrown from Richard Wright and Audre Lorde.

But I didn’t get a chance to choose this book, it just happened. And I realized that I not only read the book at the right time, but so did everyone else. And that was because we had no choice.

I took my seat on the Ta-Nehisi Coates’ bandwagon and I don’t think that I will ever get off. In fact, I might have to bully someone for their front seat  because his new book, Between The World and Me, helped heal my temporal fury.

The overall purpose, a letter to his son, was more than I can bare. The thought of constructing a letter that contained all the problems to Black male existence and not even giving a solution, because there is none that you can possibly provide, shows me all the revolutionary steps needed in the awakening  process.

images-160

The idea of the body; existing physically, biologically, politically, and socially, was extremely necessary to digest. The consequences of not living  causes disembodiment. Both self-inflicted and inflicted, in which you have no control over. The tennis game of Coates analyzing his manhood versus raising a child to challenge manhood was extremely striking.

And the responsibility of mustering up a narrative that share Black America’s grief has already been acknowledged by one of the finest American writers ever, Toni Morrison.

‘The modern-day James Baldwin’ comparison straps this author with an extreme high award of valor, because someone has to fill the shoes. And Coates, with his blunt references and his bold opinions does nothing less than remind you of our Uncle Baldwin himself.

aac3dea5-857c-4dc9-918b-171d187d9737_800

This is no ordinary book review, because this is no ordinary book. I usually include fancy quotes and witty remarks, but it is nearly impossible to choose quotes that are more important than others.

I found myself in a salsa of emotions during my time reading because it is reflective of the current happenings in the world. This book does not put you in some kind of fairy tale land that you are able to get away from once you close the book. The reality is, the book is just as dark as the world we share.

Go ahead, it is safe to pick up.

Book Review: Our Black Year.

OurBlackYear

“..because you are dealing with a Black people who are inflicted with their own sense of inferiority.”

Maggie Anderson tells us the small story of feeling frustrated about the economic conditions of Black people. She wanted to make a change. And she did. Deciding to take a huge risk with her family, The Andersons decided that for the next year they would only purchase and support Black businesses. What does that look like? How is that even possible? Our Black Year is the record of their results. Her findings are not only ludicrous, but they also shed light to the biggest elephant in the room: Black people lack capital, which correlates to the oppression that we suffer from every day.

It is obvious that when we need to think about the Black dollar, and how much we are suffering from the lack of investing in our own products, businesses, and communities. This book proves that we have a stronghold on spending power, yet we barely own anything. Strange, right? We have the power to keep designer brands and corporations in business, yet we can’t find ways to fund our own businesses properly.

Unknown-26

Things like leakage, gentrification, urban planning, impoverished neighborhoods, and domination of other ethnic businesses are all discussed in the book for the plight of economic empowerment.

To sum, a very impactful paragraph slapped me in the face:

“These cold realities – that buying from businesses in Black neighborhoods doesn’t necessarily work, that so few Black-owned establishments have shortcomings—become clear in the early days of The Ebony Experiment. Uncovering the reasons why [the experiment] would take longer.

Despite a few points of privilege that needed to be checked (in my copy of the book, I definitely marked and scratched a few of her ideas) Maggie’s experience of simply buying Black for an entire year was filled with many emotional, physical, and mental roller coasters.

With dense research and great references, it is clear that Maggie finds herself torn between the facts and her actual opinion. I noticed that many of her personal statements were contradictory towards the facts that she presented about the state of the Black community and the lower class. I think this distinction is also important in understanding how people can disagree with the how’s and why’s of our institutional state of, well, lack.

I won’t give too much of the book away, because I am URGING folks, as usual, to begin to think about their financial future. This book is definitely a great start to begin to get your mind going about the economic state of the Black community.

Gonna leave you guys with one more gem:

“How will history view this generation of African Americans? Will they say that we had it all, that we made headway in corporate America and in the legal and educational arenas, but we earned our individual success and left our neighborhoods for disrespectful outsiders to raid? Will they say that we sold our history, potential, dreams, and destiny in exchange for the comforts of suburban life, shunning our own entrepreneurs and professionals, and treating them with condescension? Did we squander our chances? Fail to deliver on so much promise?”

Happy reading!

Half of A Yellow Sun: Week 1 Synopsis.

half-of-a-yellow-sun-uesiqg

 

Week 1 brings us character development, plot placement, and conflict like no other! In the first chapters we have already faced some issues and learned things about these people that would be panned out and developed over a long series of pages in other books. For this book we are story lining our entire discussion on twitter and it is available to view here! https://storify.com/AfroMadu/half-of-a-yellow-sun-discussion-1-jul-23-2014 If you haven’t participated on twitter with us, we HIGHLY recommend that you read the story line of the discussion first and then our synopsis to get the full experience of week 1!

Summary of Points:

Ugwu’s class shock: It is very interesting to know that only a few blocks away from Ugwu’s village, his new place of employment overwhelms him with modern day technology and a whole new world of professionals, education, and space to discover and explore a life beyond his village. Ugwu’s class shock is super important in this book because it allows us to realize some class privilege that readers have when Ugwu is amazed by libraries and refrigerators. This grants us perspective to how things were during the 60’s in Nigeria and the historical context behind house servants and help around the “richer”.

Dynamics between Ugwu and Odenigbo: Not only did Odenigbo hire the small boy as a house maid, but it is clear that Odenigbo is dropping gems and becoming a fatherlike figure to Ugwu as well. Despite the casual barks and rude comments that are said and demanded when it comes to Ugwu’s job, moments where there are room for intellectual growth, Odenigbo uses his profession and privilege to uplift Ugwu and grant him opportunities. Enrolling him into school, for one, shows the readers that Ugwu is not going to be an ordinary houseboy. What a cool benefit package! 

Subliminal political plug-ins: Adichie has a way with words! the dialogues that are held within the characters aren’t just regular conversations that need to be dismissed during this time. Every conversation is definitely needed for us to understand Nigerian history and other international conflicts during the sixties. This is not an ordinary tale. We are learning about the characters but is being taught about events during that time as well. Conflicts between the Nigerian tribes and European influence seems to leak out of these pages, giving us more insight on race relations and inequalities.

Plot twisting Olanna and company: Just when Ugwu was getting into the swing of life at the home front, Odenigbo’s girlfriend Olanna is in the picture. Not only is she gorgeous, but the amazing love story begins to heighten this book to the next level. Odenigbo and Olanna’s beautiful energy is definitely a breath of fresh air for this story and her family history and drama is very fun to see unfold as well. Things like the small rivalry between Olanna and her sister Kainene, Olanna’s minimalistic ideology while her parents wants to force her into a lifestyle of materialism and credentials, and the search for Kainene’s love life is a great way to enter more people into this beautiful story mix. 

European perspective: Just when we thought drama would be casted onto the characters in the first two chapters, chapter three smacks us in the face with White privilege and stereotypical Whites in Nigeria. We are introduced to the small crowd of colonialistic, (yea, we made that word up) assholes that enjoy deeming Nigerians as barbaric people rather than the human beings that they are. Adicihie’s way of reminding us that there are in fact “those people” who will not allow the country to prosper. We are introduced to Richard, another important character in another important developing love story between him and Kainene. Yes, an interracial couple in Nigeria during the 60’s.

BtQzHl6CQAAYXGr.jpg-large

Chapters 4-16 is up for this week, and although those are a lot of pages to tackle, this book is definitely worth it. Dig deep, and read up on it! You will benefit from it when we are all discussing what went on in those chapters. Keep reading! See you during the end of the week!  

 

Beloved: Week 2 Synopsis.

photo 2

“Good for you. More it hurt, more better it is. Cant nothing heal without pain, you know,”

This week the plot thickens with the appearance of Beloved and many more themes and additions to the book. Here’s some things that we’ve covered, and some things we missed: 

1. The flesh aspect of this segment was very well exposed, with Beloved coming out of the swamp to start her new life in a physical body, and the physical characters throughout the text reacting to a new person in the house. The character dynamics between Paul D relationship with Denver and Sethe; Sethe and Denver’s newfound relationship with Beloved; and company to Denver as she finally felt the spirit’s physical presence.

2. Paul D and Sethe’s relationship seems to become more prominent, realizing that their storytelling of slavery is necessary in their relationship. Paul D’s disclosure on his experience as a slave to Sethe is what is bringing them both together, as Paul D brings another piece to Sethe’s story about Halle and his existence. Sethe cannot continue to think that Halle might be somewhere still alive, when this entire time she coped with the fact that he might be dead. Sethe’s openness to hearing Paul D’s stories is vital in the continuation of him remembering the past. Thus, having this couple feel as if their relationship is vital in hashing out their experiences.

3. Baby Suggs community scene in the middle of the woods was very important in the healing process for the characters in the story. Toni Morrison did a great job in vividly show a flash back and connecting it to the solution of the problems within the text, and the solution to loving Blackness in general. Loving ourselves and protecting the things that we cannot change. Such a beautiful and very important part in the text.

4. We also see that Beloved has some unfinished business with her mother. Whether it is positive or negative, Denver is beginning to realize that her sister’s visit isn’t to merry after all. Few scenes show how Beloved begins to get very territorial over Sethe and the things she has planned to ask and do to her mother. Is Denver beginning to become isolated all over again? 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Things that were not discussed:

Unknown-39

The significance of Mister, the rooster.

In Paul D’s recollection of biting an iron, his grand memory of a rooster seemed to be very interesting. He states,

“Mister, he looked so..free. Better than me. Stronger, tougher. Son a bitch couldn’t even get out the shell by hisself but he was still king and I was…”

“Mister was allowed to be and stay what he was. But I wash;t allowed to be and stay what I was. Even if you cooked him you’d be cooking a rooster named Mister. But wasn’t no way I’d ever be Paul D again living or dead. Schoolteacher changed me. I was something else and that something was less than a chicken sitting in the sun on a tub.”

In this text, concepts of freedom, racism, identity,and self-worth bled through this paragraph. What was Paul D really trying to say? Was his being less than a rooster on a plantation? How did that rooster make him see hisself as a slave? Something to think about…

This Sunday our discussion continues covering our third segment of the text, (pg. 125-198 in hard copy, 205-317 in pdf) followed by another synopsis of Beloved!

Beloved: Week 1 Synopsis.

photo 2

This past week, we finally kicked off our reading and discussion, and we must say that our first dialogue was a success! The best way to dive into the beginning of a great book! Breaking down themes that were clearly noticeable and helping others to see different perspectives was definitely needed and we wanted to highlight some things that we did discuss, along with some ideas that we didn’t. We also have some tweets for reminding and acknowledgement!

Points to remember:

1. Morrison’s common theme in this first segment is a plethora of emotions around adversity. Desperation, grief, guilt, isolation, evil, heavy, sad, lonely, rebuked, etc. All these words lay the groundwork of how unfortunate our scenes are set, but in fact very powerful. 

2. Each theme or unsuitable situation is not only a reflection of the book’s time period, but the reality in our current events as well. Trauma from slavery, gender issues, motherhood, Black womanhood, truth-telling, spirituality, etc also bleeds through the world we live in today. 

3. Denver’s character is very interesting to observe. Not only does she manage the Beloved spirit in the house, but she is the realist in Paul D’s and Sethe’s relationship, along with the after effects of Sethe’s parenting. 

4. “Its not evil, just sad.”

5. “Anything dead coming back to life hurts.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Things that were not discussed:

Each week we have a small segment of something that was not mentioned on Sunday. This column is very important to us, as it attempts to shed more light and perspective to the book, providing us with a new angle in understanding the text. 

The Symbolism of the Chokecherry Tree

photo3

Photo Credit: Kelsey Otocki

We read in the text about Sethe scars on her back being her “Chokecherry tree”. Could this depiction of a tree be symbolism of the family baggage that she carries throughout “Beloved”? Besides the flashbacks of her experience in Sweet Home and the casual talks and conversations about Baby Suggs, could each scar have a meaning behind Sethe’s real story and truths? Moreover, can the idea of taking off the tough shell (her clothes) to reveal the horrible past and her current situations be the rhetoric behind the Black Woman and the reason for the pain and suffering in the Sethe character? What do you think?

Stay tuned for our sunday discussion followed by another synopsis next week covering our second portion (68-124 in hard copy, 97-205 pdf version) of Toni Morrison’s Beloved!

 

 

End of Summer Reading!

“Meeting the minds through the medium of literature.”

their-eyes-were-watching-god-zora-neale-hurston-paperback-cover-art

For the month of August, we will be reading and debriefing Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. This book has been said to synthesize the the identity of the Black women in the South in the early 20th century. Zora Neale Hurston was a phenomenal writer during the Harlem Renaissance era and her books are still best sellers throughout the United States. This month’s book is too not only get into the politics of self-identity of the Black women, but for males and females to understand the plight of self-control and struggle through the African American experience.

We will begin the discussion, right on this tab next Monday, August 12th on the first chapter. This gives participants to go out and get the book and begin to embark on Hurston’s craft!

Time is ticking!  We aren’t getting any younger! Lets stay informed and read!!!!