Publications

    A Place for Us
    Mirza, Fatima Farheen. A Place for Us. First US edition. New York: SJP for Hogarth, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A story of family identity and belonging follows an Indian family through the marriage of their daughter, from the parents' arrival in the United States to the return of their estranged son. As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister's footsteps. And their estranged son, Amar, returns to the family for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride. What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture?" -- adapted from jacket.
    There There
    Orange, Tommy. There There. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

    View eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]

    The book opens with an essay by Orange as a prologue, and then proceeds to follow a large cast of Native Americans living in the area of Oakland, CA, as they struggle with a wide array of challenges ranging from depression, alchoholism, unemployment, and the challenges of living with an ethnic identity of being ambiguously nonwhite. All coalesce at a community pow wow in Oakland.

    The Time between Places: Stories That Weave In and Out of Egypt and America
    Kaldas, Pauline. The Time between Places: Stories That Weave In and Out of Egypt and America. University of Arkansas Press, 2010. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "This collection of twenty stories delves into the lives of Egyptian characters, from those living in Egypt to those who have immigrated to the United States. With subtle and eloquent prose, the complexities of these characters are revealed, opening a door into their intimate struggles with identity and place. We meet people who are tempted by the possibilities of America and others who are tempted by the desire to return home. Some are in the throes of re-creating themselves in the new world while others seem to be embedded in the loss of their homeland. Many of these characters, although physically located in either the United States or Egypt, have lives that embrace both cultures."
    The Voice at the Back Door
    Spencer, Elizabeth. The Voice at the Back Door. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1994. eBook @ Harvard Library [Harvard Key required]Abstract

    In the mid-1950s, the town of Lacey in the Mississippi hill country is a place where the lives of blacks and whites, though seemingly separate, are in fact historically and inevitably intertwined. When Lacey's fair-haired boy, Duncan Harper, is appointed interim sheriff, he makes public his private convictions about the equality of blacks before the law, and the combined threat and promise he represents to the understood order of things in Lacey affects almost every member of the community. In the end, Harper succeeds in pointing the way for individuals, both black and white, to find a more harmonious coexistence, but at a sacrifice all must come to regret.

    In The Voice at the Back Door, Mississippi native Elizabeth Spencer gives form to the many voices that shaped her view of race relations while growing up, and at the same time discovers her own voice -- one of hope. Employing her extraordinary literary powers -- finely honed narrative techniques, insight into a rich, diverse cast of characters, and an unerring ear for dialect -- Spencer makes palpable the psychological milieu of a small southern town hobbled by tradition but lurching toward the dawn of the civil rights movement. First published in 1956, The Voice at the Back Door is Spencer's most highly praised novel yet, and her last to treat small-town life in Mississippi.

    Spit Baths
    Downs, Greg. Spit Baths. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "With a reporter's eye for the inside story and a historian's grasp of the ironies in our collective past, Greg Downs affectionately observes some of the last survivors of what Greil Marcus has called the old, weird America. Living off the map and out of sight, folks like Embee, Rudy, Peg, and Branch define themselves by where they are, not by what they eat, drink, or wear.

    The man who is soon to abandon his family in "Ain't I a King, Too?" is mistaken for the populist autocrat of Louisiana, Huey P. Long--on the day after Long's assassination. In "Hope Chests," a history teacher marries his student and takes her away from a place she hated, only to find that neither one of them can fully leave it behind. An elderly man in "Snack Cakes" enlists his grandson to help distribute his belongings among his many ex-wives, living and dead. In the title story, another intergenerational family tale, a young boy is caught in a feud between his mother and grandmother. The older woman uses the language of baseball to convey her view of religion and nobility to her grandson before the boy's mother takes him away, maybe forever.

    Caught up in pasts both personal and epic, Downs's characters struggle to maintain their peculiar, grounded manners in an increasingly detached world."

    Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories
    Morales, Jennifer. Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2015. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "When Johnquell, an African American teen, suffers a serious accident in the home of his white neighbor, Mrs. Czernicki, his community must find ways to bridge divisions between black and white, gay and straight, old and young. Set in one of the nation’s most highly segregated cities—Milwaukee, Wisconsin—Meet Me Halfway tells stories of connections in a community with a tumultuous and divided past. In nine stories told from diverse perspectives, Jennifer Morales captures a Rust Belt city’s struggle to establish a common ground and a collective vision of the future.

    Morales gives life to multifaceted characters—white schoolteachers and senior citizens, Latino landlords, black and Puerto Rican teens, political activists, and Vietnam vets. As their lives unfold in these stories, we learn about Johnquell’s family—his grandparents’ involvement in the local Black Panther Party, his sister’s on-again, off-again friendship with a white classmate, and his aunt’s identity crisis as she finds herself falling in love with a woman. We also meet Johnquell’s mother, Gloria, and his school friend Taquan, who is struggling to chart his own future.

    As an activist mother in the thick of Milwaukee politics, Morales developed a keen ear and a tender heart for the kids who have inherited the city’s troubled racial legacy. With a critical eye on promises unfulfilled, Meet Me Halfway raises questions about the notion of a “postracial” society and, with humor and compassion, lifts up the day-to-day work needed to get there."
    Celestial Bodies: A Novel
    Hārithī, Jūkhah, and Marilyn Booth. Celestial Bodies: A Novel. New York: Catapult, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "In the village of al-Awafi in Oman, we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who chooses to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families, their losses and loves, unspool ... against a backdrop of a rapidly changing Oman, a country evolving from a traditional, slave-owning society into its complex present"– provided by publisher.
    Lilith's Brood
    Butler, Octavia E. Lilith's Brood. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2000. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

    View eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]

    "Lilith Lyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected, by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: Their own children. This is their story."

    Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas
    Dumas, Henry. Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas. Second edition. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
     "Championed by Toni Morrison and Walter Mosley, Dumas's fabulist fiction is a masterful synthesis of myth and religion, culture and nature, mask and identity. From the Deep South to the simmering streets of Harlem, his characters embark on real, magical, and mythic quests. Humming with life, Dumas's stories create a collage of midcentury Black experiences, interweaving religious metaphor, African cosmologies, diasporic folklore, and America's history of slavery and systemic racism. Henry Dumas was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, in 1934 and moved to Harlem at the age of ten. He joined the air force in 1953 and spent a year on the Arabian Peninsula. Upon his return, Dumas became active in the civil rights movement, married, had two sons, attended Rutgers University, worked for IBM, and taught at Hiram College in Ohio and at Southern Illinois University. In 1968, at the age of thirty-three, he was shot and killed by a New York City Transit Authority police officer."--Amazon.com.
    A Student of History
    Revoyr, Nina. A Student of History. New York: Akashic Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Rick Nagano is a graduate student in the history department at USC, struggling to make rent on his South Los Angeles apartment near the neighborhood where his family once lived. When he lands a job as a research assistant for the elderly Mrs. W--, the heir to an oil fortune, he sees it first simply as a source of extra cash. But as he grows closer to the iconoclastic, charming, and feisty Mrs. W--, he gets drawn into a world of privilege and wealth far different from his racially mixed, blue-collar beginnings. Putting aside his half-finished dissertation, Rick sets up office in Mrs. W--'s grand Bel Air mansion and begins to transcribe her journals - which document an old Los Angeles not described in his history books. He also accompanies Mrs. W-- to venues frequented by the descendants of the land and oil barons who built the city. One evening, at an event, he meets Fiona Morgan - the elegant scion of an old steel family - who takes an interest in his studies. Irresistibly drawn to Fiona, he agrees to help her with a project of questionable merit in the hopes he'll win her favor. A Student of History explores both the beginnings of Los Angeles and the present-day dynamics of race and class. It offers a window into the usually hidden world of high society, and the influence of historic families on current events. Like Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby, it features, in Rick Nagano, a young man of modest means who is navigating a world where he doesn't belong." (from dust jacket)
    Friday Black
    Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame. Friday Black. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

     "An excitement and a wonder: strange, crazed, urgent and funny...The wildly talented Adjei-Brenyah has made these edgy tales immensely charming, via his resolute, heartful, immensely likeable narrators, capable of seeing the world as blessed and cursed at once." -- George Saunders

    "This book is dark and captivating and essential...A call to arms and a condemnation. Adjei-Brenyah offers powerful prose as parable. The writing in this outstanding collection will make you hurt and demand your hope. Read this book." -- Roxane Gay

    A piercingly raw debut story collection from a young writer with an explosive voice; a treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it's like to be young and black in America. From the start of this extraordinary debut, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah's writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in this country. These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In "The Finkelstein Five," Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unforgettable reckoning of the brutal prejudice of our justice system. In "Zimmer Land," we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of racism as sport. And "Friday Black" and "How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King" show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all. Entirely fresh in its style and perspective, and sure to appeal to fans of Colson Whitehead, Marlon James, and George Saunders, Friday Black confronts readers with a complicated, insistent, wrenching chorus of emotions, the final note of which, remarkably, is hope.

    A treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it's like to be young and black in America. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in this country. Readers are left with a complicated, insistent, wrenching chorus of emotions, the final note of which, remarkably, is hope." -- adapted from info provided

    A Particular Kind of Black Man
    Folarin, Tope. A Particular Kind of Black Man. First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

    View eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]

    "A stunning debut novel, from Rhodes Scholar and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, Tope Folarin about a Nigerian family living in Utah and their uncomfortable assimilation to American life. Living in small-town Utah has always been an uneasy fit for Tunde Akinola's family, especially for his Nigeria-born parents. Though Tunde speaks English with a Midwestern accent, he can't escape the children who rub his skin and ask why the black won't come off. As he struggles to fit in and find his place in the world, he finds little solace from his parents who are grappling with their own issues. Tunde's father, ever the optimist, works tirelessly chasing his American dream while his wife, lonely in Utah without family and friends, sinks deeper into schizophrenia. Then one otherwise-ordinary morning, Tunde's mother wakes him with a hug, bundles him and his baby brother into the car, and takes them away from the only home they've ever known. But running away doesn't bring her, or her children, any relief from the demons that plague her; once Tunde's father tracks them down, she flees to Nigeria, and Tunde never feels at home again. He spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection–to the wary stepmother and stepbrothers he gains when his father remarries; to the Utah residents who mock his father's accent; to evangelical religion; to his Texas middle school's crowd of African-Americans; to the fraternity brothers of his historically black college. In so doing, he discovers something that sends him on a journey away from everything he has known. Sweeping, stirring, and perspective-shifting, A Particular Kind of Black Man is a beautiful and poignant exploration of the meaning of memory, manhood, home, and identity as seen through the eyes of a first-generation Nigerian-American"– provided by publisher.

    Bright Lines
    Islam, Tanwi Nandini. Bright Lines. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2015. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A Bangladeshi orphan haunted by her parents' murders moves in with family members in Brooklyn until a fateful coming-of-age summer when her Islamic runaway cousin and she confront painful family secrets."
    Karma and Other Stories
    Reddi, Rishi. Karma and Other Stories. New York: Harper Perennial, 2007. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "In this sparkling collection, award-winning writer Rishi Reddi weaves a multigenerational tapestry of interconnected lives, depicting members of an Indian American community struggling to balance the demands of tradition with the allure of Western life"–
    The Cotillion, or, One Good Bull is Half the Herd
    Killens, John Oliver. The Cotillion, or, One Good Bull is Half the Herd. The Coffee House Press black arts movement series. St. Paul, MN: Coffee House Press, 2002. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Beautiful, high-stepping Yoruba of Harlem is invited to the annual cotillion thrown by African American high society of Queens. Caught between the indifference of her father, the excitement of her social-climbing mother, and her prodigal boyfriend's militancy, Yoruba persuades her sister debutantes to challenge the aging doyennes in one of the most sidesplitting scenes in American literature."
    The Gone Dead
    Benz, Chanelle. The Gone Dead. New York: Ecco, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Billie James' inheritance isn't much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day, and she hasn't been back to the South since. Thirty years later, Billie returns but her father's home is unnervingly secluded: her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger."--Book cover flap.
    Your House Will Pay
    Cha, Steph. Your House Will Pay. New York: Ecco, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it's been since the unrest of the early 1990s. But Grace Park and Shawn Matthews have their own problems. Grace is sheltered and largely oblivious, living in the Valley with her Korean-immigrant parents, working long hours at the family pharmacy. She's distraught that her sister hasn't spoken to their mother in two years, for reasons beyond Grace's understanding. Shawn has already had enough of politics and protest after an act of violence shattered his family years ago. He just wants to be left alone to enjoy his quiet life in Palmdale. But when another shocking crime hits LA, both the Park and Matthews families are forced to face down their history while navigating the tumult of a city on the brink of more violence"-- Amazon.com
    The Water Dancer
    Coates, Ta-Nehisi. The Water Dancer. New York: One World, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
     "Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage -- and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child -- but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn't understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram's private rebellion. Spurred on by his improvised plantation family, Thena, his chosen mother, a woman of few words and many secrets, and Sophia, a young woman fighting her own war even as she and Hiram fall in love, he becomes determined to escape the only home he's ever known. So begins an unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia's proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he's enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, all Hiram wants is to return to the Walker Plantation to free the family he left behind -- but to do so, he must first master his magical gift and reconstruct the story of his greatest loss."-- Provided by publisher.
    The Rib King
    Hubbard, Ladee. The Rib King. New York, NY: Amistad, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
     "For fifteen years August Sitwell has worked for the Barclays, a well-to-do white family who plucked him from an orphan asylum and gave him a job. The groundskeeper is part of the household's all-black staff, along with "Miss Mamie," the talented cook, pretty new maid Jennie Williams, and three young kitchen apprentices - the latest orphan boys Mr. Barclay has taken in to "civilize" - boys like August. But the Barclays' fortunes have fallen, and their money is almost gone. When a prospective business associate proposes selling Miss Mamie's delicious rib sauce to local markets under the brand name "The Rib King" - using a caricature of a wildly grinning August on the label - Mr. Barclay, desperate for cash, agrees. Yet neither Miss Mamie nor August will see a dime. Humiliated, August grows increasingly distraught, his anger building to a rage that explodes in shocking tragedy. "--Publisher.

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