Crowning the last week of the Black History Month in the USA and Canada, I have come up with a selection of novels/autobiography that focuses on slavery, passages, crossings, displacements; but also treating the reinvention of identity from the mixed heritage of the Black Atlantic. – Fred D’Aguiar, Condé, Levy, Phillips and more.
In his seminal study “The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness” (1992), Paul Gilroy postulated that personal identities, histories, and cultures are constituted by processes of exchange rather than by the allegiance to a single place of origin. Gilroy shifts the focus from land to sea, from single nations to the Atlantic as a space of transition – initially the enforced transportation of African slaves, via European sea ports like Liverpool, to the slave markets of the Caribbean, later the reflux of the West Indian workforce into the European job market. These processes of deportation, then, more positively, of cross-cultural exchange, travel, and communication produced the heterogeneous cultural space of the Black Atlantic, encompassing African, European, Caribbean, and American culture, literature, music, and art.
This collection of texts covers everything from the Black Atlantic to life in the Africa diaspora. Reading them calls up emotions of anger, hurt, hatred, revenge but also of forgiveness, letting go, love and above all Healing. If you want to learn more of slavery, its effects and the Black Atlantic without necessarily reading history books, then these books will help you get an insight – some of them though fiction, are based on real life stories.
So, it is time to do some reading folks. My February picks are from two great African female writers. Considering Chimamanda is one of my favorite authors (have already read all three of her other books), it is surprising that I haven’t yet read her novel Americanah. For some reason, I kept postponing reading but I think now is the right time.Ghana Must Go was recommended by a friend. Taiye is unknown to me, so it will be a pleasure to discover this much acclaimed writer. For those who have not yet read any of these books, it will be great if you could join me to read if not both, then at least one of them. At the end of February, we will discuss our views and opinions. For those who have already read, it will be nice to also get your take during our discussions at the end of February. Please comment on the comment log below or send me an email if you will like to join in our February Reads Challenge. Recommendations for the March reads are open. Tell us all those great books you think we MUST and SHOULD read 😉
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an award-winning author from Nigeria, West Africa. Her novels Purple Hibiscus won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year. She also has a collection of short stories The Thing Around Your Neck. For more on Adichie, click here
Americanah was published in 2013, and received numerous praises. It was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction and named one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year.
Taiye Selasi is a british author of Nigerian and Ghanaian origin. She was born in London, England and raised in Massachusetts. She studied in Yale and Oxford and now lives in New York and Rome. She was a jury in the Italian Reality TV Show “Masterpiece,” a talent show for aspiring writers. Her novel Ghana Must Go was published in 2013 to much critical acclaim. It was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal and The Economist, and has sold in 22 countries as of 2014. For more on Taiye, click here