Friday, October 20, 2017

New Books Coming Your Way, October 24, 2017

A Good Cry: What We Learn From Tears and Laughter by Nikki Giovanni
128 p.; Poetry

The poetry of Nikki Giovanni has spurred movements, turned hearts and informed generations. She’s been hailed as a firebrand, a radical, a healer, and a sage; a wise and courageous voice who has spoken out on the sensitive issues, including race and gender, that touch our national consciousness.

As energetic and relevant as ever, Nikki now offers us an intimate, affecting, and illuminating look at her personal history and the mysteries of her own heart. In A Good Cry, she takes us into her confidence, describing the joy and peril of aging and recalling the violence that permeated her parents’ marriage and her early life. She pays homage to the people who have given her life meaning and joy: her grandparents, who took her in and saved her life; the poets and thinkers who have influenced her; and the students who have surrounded her. Nikki also celebrates her good friend, Maya Angelou, and the many years of friendship, poetry, and kitchen-table laughter they shared before Angelou’s death in 2014.

Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds by Yemisi Aribisala
357 p.; Cooking/Essays

A sumptuous menu of essays about Nigerian cuisine, lovingly presented by the nation's top epicurean writer. As well as a mouth-watering appraisal of Nigerian food, Longthroat Memoirs is a series of love letters to the Nigerian palate. From the cultural history of soup, to fish as aphrodisiac and the sensual allure of snails, Longthroat Memoirs explores the complexities, the meticulousness, and the tactile joy of Nigerian gastronomy.

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani
320 p.; Young Adult

Liara Tamani’s debut novel deftly and beautifully explores the universal struggles of growing up, battling family expectations, discovering a sense of self, and finding a unique voice and purpose. Taja Brown lives with her parents and older brother and younger sister, in Houston, Texas. Taja has always known what the expectations of her conservative and tightly knit African American family are—do well in school, go to church every Sunday, no intimacy before marriage. But Taja is trying to keep up with friends as they get their first kisses, first boyfriends, first everythings. And she’s tired of cheering for her athletic younger sister and an older brother who has more freedom just because he’s a boy. Taja dreams of going to college and forging her own relationship with the world and with God, but when she falls in love for the first time, those dreams are suddenly in danger of evaporating.

Told in fifty-four short, episodic, moving, and iridescent chapters, Calling My Name follows Taja on her journey from middle school to high school. Literary and noteworthy, this is a beauty of a novel, a divine and tender enchantment. Calling My Name deftly captures the multifaceted struggle of finding where you belong and why you matter.

Courage Is Contagious: And Other Reasons to Be Grateful for Michelle Obama edited by Nick Haramis
128 p.; Essays

In October of 2016, in response to Michelle Obama’s now famous campaign speech—a powerful salvo for women’s rights and common decency—T Magazine published a dazzling feature called “To the First Lady with Love,” edited by Nicholas Haramis. Here, Haramis expands the T Magazine tribute, by gathering together nineteen essays, fifteen of which have never been published before, from a stunning array of prize-winning writers, Hollywood stars, fashion gurus, and famous chefs including Chimamanda Ngochi Adichie, Tracee Ellis Ross, Alice Waters, Charlamagne tha God, Issa Rae, Jason Wu, and Gloria Steinem—and two of the new essays are by eighth-grade girls.

Not only did Michelle Obama use her time in the White House to build a substantial legacy for women, minorities, and health and education advocates, she’s vowed to keep fighting for the causes that matter, now that her husband is out of office. And her impact continues to transcend easy categorization; her cultural imprint is as nuanced as it is indelible. Her influence, it was clear, had been felt in many different ways. Michelle’s persona freed people—especially women—to speak, engage, even dress as they wanted to; she was an accessible insider, representing a thrilling combination of establishment culture (Princeton, where she went to school) and the striving middle class (the South side of Chicago, where she grew up); she was an equal partner in her marriage and parenthood; she had an unabashedly ethical bent; and she had genre-busting style.

Still Can't Do My Daughter's Hair by William Evans
96 p.; Poetry

Still Can't Do My Daughter's Hair
is the latest book by author William Evans, founder of Black Nerd Problems. Evans is a long-standing voice in the performance poetry scene, who has performed at venues across the country and been featured on numerous final stages, including the National Poetry Slam and Individual World Poetry Slam. Evans's commanding, confident style shines through in these poems, which explore masculinity, fatherhood, and family, and what it means to make a home as a black man in contemporary America.

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
496 p.; History

The first edition of Joel Augustus Rogers’s now legendary 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof, published in 1957, was billed as “A Negro ‘Believe It or Not.’” Rogers’s little book was priceless because he was delivering enlightenment and pride, steeped in historical research, to a people too long starved on the lie that they were worth nothing. For African Americans of the Jim Crow era, Rogers’s was their first black history teacher. But Rogers was not always shy about embellishing the “facts” and minimizing ambiguity; neither was he above shock journalism now and then.

With √©lan and erudition—and with winning enthusiasm—Henry Louis Gates, Jr. gives us a corrective yet loving homage to Roger’s work. Relying on the latest scholarship, Gates leads us on a romp through African, diasporic, and African-American history in question-and-answer format. Among the one hundred questions: Who were Africa’s first ambassadors to Europe? Who was the first black president in North America? Did Lincoln really free the slaves? Who was history’s wealthiest person? What percentage of white Americans have recent African ancestry? Why did free black people living in the South before the end of the Civil War stay there? Who was the first black head of state in modern Western history? Where was the first Underground Railroad? Who was the first black American woman to be a self-made millionaire? Which black man made many of our favorite household products better?

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