Black History Month Spotlight: Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved

March

Publisher: Vintage

Publication Date: 1987

Synopsis:

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.

About the Author:

Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford), is an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”
Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best known are her novels The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. In 2001 she was named one of “The 30 Most Powerful Women in America” by Ladies’ Home Journal.

– Bio taken from Goodreads

A. A. Omer

Self Appointed March Break

Hello All,

This month as well as March are really intense for me. It’s getting closer to the end of my University career (assuming things don’t go to shit which sometimes happens in academia especially with 50, 000 students at the University) and I’m feeling the pressure. Rather than just drop the ball without noticed, I thought I’d just announce to you all that I will be taking a month long leave of absence in March to focus on school.

It doesn’t mean I’ll be doing NOTHING related to books (you can never stop reading!).

I’ll be using that time to get caught up on the Harry Potter Read Along/Re-Read as well as the books for Superhero Week:  Supervillains 2014 and for the week I’ll be dedicating to books associated with sexual assault for re: Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.

I’ll be busy. I just won’t be posting stuff on the internet.

Keep reading, my book homies. 🙂

A. A. Omer

Black History Month Spotlight: Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup

Twelve Years A Slave

Twelve Years A Slave

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Publication Date: 1853

Synopsis:

Perhaps the best written of all the slave narratives, Twelve Years a Slave is a harrowing memoir about one of the darkest periods in American history. It recounts how Solomon Northup, born a free man in New York, was lured to Washington, D.C., in 1841 with the promise of fast money, then drugged and beaten and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years of his life in captivity on a Louisiana cotton plantation.
After his rescue, Northup published this exceptionally vivid and detailed account of slave life. It became an immediate bestseller and today is recognized for its unusual insight and eloquence as one of the very few portraits of American slavery produced by someone as educated as Solomon Northup, or by someone with the dual perspective of having been both a free man and a slave.

About the Author:

Solomon Northup (July 1808 – c. 1864–1875) was a free-born African American from Saratoga Springs, New York. He is noted for having been kidnapped in 1841 when enticed with a job offer. When he accompanied his supposed employers to Washington, DC, they drugged him and sold him into slavery. From Washington, DC, he was transported to New Orleans where he was sold to a plantation owner from Rapides Parish, Louisiana. After 12 years in bondage, he regained his freedom in January 1853; he was one of very few to do so in such cases. Held in the Red River region of Louisiana by several different owners, he got news to his family, who contacted friends and enlisted the New York governor in his cause. New York state had passed a law in 1840 to recover African-American residents who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Northup sued the slave traders in Washington, DC, but lost in the local court. District of Columbia law prohibited him as a black man from testifying against whites and, without his testimony, the men went free. Returning to his family in New York, Northup became active in abolitionism. He published an account of his experiences in Twelve Years a Slave (1853) in his first year of freedom. Northup gave dozens of lectures throughout the Northeast on his experiences as a slave, in order to support the abolitionist cause.

In the early 1860s, Northup, along with another black man, aided a Methodist minister in Vermont in helping fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad. The circumstances of Northup’s death are uncertain.

Solomon Northup’s memoir was reprinted several times later in the 19th century. An annotated version was published in 1968, edited by Sue Eakin and Joseph Logsdon. The memoir was adapted and produced as a film in 2013 by Steve McQueen, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup. Previously, a TV movie had been made of Northup’s story, Solomon Northup’s Odyssey (1984), directed by Gordon Parks. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former U.S. poet laureate Rita Dove wrote her poem “The Abduction” about Solomon Northup (published in her first collection, “The Yellow House on the Corner”, 1980.)

Since 1999, Saratoga Springs, New York, has celebrated an annual Solomon Northup Day.

– Bio taken from Goodreads

A. A. Omer

Black History Month Spotlight: A Matter of Souls by Denise Lewis Patrick

A Matter of Souls

A Matter of Souls

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group

  • Imprint: Carolrhoda Books

Publication Date:  April 1st 2014

Synopsis:

From the shores of Africa to the bowels of a transatlantic ship to a voting booth in Mississippi to the jungles of Vietnam, all human connection is a matter of souls. In this stirring collection of short stories, Denise Lewis Patrick considers the souls of black men and women across centuries and continents. In each, she takes the measure of their dignity, describes their dreams, and catalogs their fears. Brutality, beauty, laughter, rage, and love all take their turns in each story, but the final impression is of indomitable, luminous, and connected souls.

About the Author:

Denise Lewis Patrick was born in Natchitoches, Louisiana. She attended local schools and earned a degree in Journalism from Northwestern State University of Louisiana in 1977. That same year, she moved to New York City. She has been both a writer and editor in various areas of the publishing industry, particularly for children.

In addition to being a published author, Denise is an adjunct professor of writing at a local college. She’s also worked with budding writers in an afterschool program, has managed middle and high school writing programs.

– Bio taken from author’s website

A. A. Omer

Black History Month Spotlight: “Lives: Whole and Otherwise” by H. Nigel Thomas

Lives: Whole and Otherwise

Lives whole and otherwis

Publisher: Tsar Publications

Publication Date: September 1st 2010

Synopsis:

These stories of triumph and despair present a gallery of characters, Caribbean immigrants struggling against the odds, as they make their way through the maze of urban life. Set in Montreal, “Lives” breaks the stereotypes to give us a side of Canada rarely acknowledged. Mary Fellows is a sex-worker organizing a demonstration on St Catherine Street; Margaret is on a perpetual quest for a suitable man, her latest folly a suave, much younger man she brought over from Jamaica; Greta, a domestic help, proudly holds up her son’s high school diploma; but can he read it? “Lives” adds to Thomas’s already considerable reputation as a chronicler of black life in Montreal. These stories from Montreal present a gallery of characters, Caribbean immigrants desperate and triumphant, always struggling against the odds, as they make their way through the maze of urban life. Lives breaks the stereotypes to give us a side of Canada rarely acknowledged. Praise for H Nigel Thomas’ Behind the Face of Winter: .” . . may be the starkest, most distressingly honest, thus unforgettable, account of the Caribbean-Canadian experience yet written . . . a brave and eloquent voice. – Montreal Gazette

About the Author:

Dr. H. Nigel Thomas is a recently-retired Professor of American Literature at the Université Laval and an author of many publications including short stories, critical studies, poems and novels.

Dr. Thomas is one of the few authors to openly write and/or talk about being gay in the Caribbean. He spearheaded many initiatives in Montreal, where he lived from 1968-88, including co-founding the Free South Africa Committee and founding the literary magazine, KOLA. Much of what he writes comes from a need to explore, via the imagination, what it is to be human. Previously, he had taught English and French for several years with what is now the Montreal English School Board. He now resides in the Montreal suburb of Greenfield Park.

– Bio taken from Who’s Who Of Black Canada

A. A. Omer