Novel

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The Kindness of Enemies : A Novel
Aboulela, Leila. The Kindness of Enemies : A Novel. New York: Grove Press, 2015. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"It's 2010 and Natasha, a half-Russian, half-Sudanese professor of Islamic studies, is researching the life of Imam Shamil, the nineteenth-century Muslim leader who led the anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War. When shy, single Natasha discovers that her star student, Oz, is not only descended from the warrior but also possesses Shamil's priceless sword, the Imam's story comes vividly to life. As Natasha's relationship with Oz and his alluring actress mother intensifies, Natasha is forced to confront issues she had long tried to avoid--that of her Muslim heritage. When Oz is suddenly arrested at his home one morning, Natasha realizes that everything she values stands in jeopardy. Told with Aboulela's inimitable elegance and narrated from the point of view of both Natasha and the historical characters she is researching, The Kindness of Enemies is both an engrossing story of a provocative period in history and an important examination of what it is to be a Muslim in a post 9/11 world." - Publisher description.
Bless me, Ultima
Anaya, Rudolfo A. Bless me, Ultima. New York: Warner Books, 1994. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will probe the family ties that bind and rend him, and he will discover himself in the magical secrets of the pagan past--a mythic legacy as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world... and will nurture the birth of his soul." - Publisher description
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The House on Mango Street
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. Vintage contemporaries. New York: Vintage Books, 1991. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros'masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers." - Publisher description.
Tales of the Metric System
Coovadia, Imraan. Tales of the Metric System. Ohio University Press, 2016. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"In Tales of the Metric System, Coovadia explores a turbulent South Africa from 1970 into the present. He takes his home country's transition from imperial to metric measurements as his catalyst, holding South Africa up and examining it from the diverse perspectives of his many characters. An elite white housewife married to a radical intellectual; a rock guitarist; the same guitarist's granddaughter thirty years later; a teenaged boy at the mercy of mob justice-each story takes place over one of ten days across the decades, and each protagonist has his own stakes, her own moment in time, but each is equally caught in the eddies of change. Tales of the Metric System is clear eyed, harrowing, and daring." - Publisher description.
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Kaveena
Diop, Boubacar Boris. Kaveena. Global African voices. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2016. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"This dark and suspenseful novel tells the story of a fictitious West African country caught in the grip of civil war. The dispassionate and deadpan narrator, Asante Kroma, is a former head of Secret Services and finds himself living with the corpse of the dictator, a man who once ruled his nation with an iron fist. Through a series of flashbacks and letters penned by the dictator, N'Zo Nikiema, readers discover the role of the French shadow leader, Pierre Castaneda, whose ongoing ambition to exploit the natural resources of the country knows no limits. As these powerful men use others as pawns in a violent real-life chess match, it is the murder of six-year-old Kaveena and her mother's quest for vengeance that brings about a surprise reckoning." - Publisher description.
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The Hairdresser of Harare
Huchu, Tendai. The Hairdresser of Harare. Oxford: Weaver Press, 2010. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"Vimbai is a hairdresser, the best in Mrs Khumalo's salon, and she knows she is the queen on whom they all depend. Her situation is reversed when the good-looking, smooth-talking Dumisani joins them. However, his charm and desire to please slowly erode Vimbai's rancour and when he needs somewhere to live, Vimbai becomes his landlady. So, when Dumisani needs someone to accompany him to his brother's wedding to help smooth over a family upset, Vimbai obliges. Startled to find that this smart hairdresser is the scion of one of the wealthiest families in Harare, she is equally surprised by the warmth of their welcome; and it is their subsequent generosity which appears to foster the relationship between the two young people. The ambiguity of this deepening friendship - used or embraced by Dumisani and Vimbai with different futures in mind - collapses in unexpected brutality when secrets and jealousies are exposed. Written with delightful humour and a penetrating eye, The Hairdresser of Harare is a novel that you will find hard to put down." - Publisher description.
The Maestro, the Magistrate & the Mathematician
Huchu, Tendai. The Maestro, the Magistrate & the Mathematician. Maestro, the magistrate and the mathematician. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2016. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
This novel follows three Zimbabwean men as they struggle to find places for themselves in a new society. As he wanders Edinburgh to a constant loop of the music from home, the Magistrate–once a judge, now a health aide–tries to find meaning in his new surroundings. The depressed and quixotic Maestro–gone AWOL from his job at a grocery store–escapes into books. And the youthful Mathematician enjoys a carefree graduate school life, until he can no longer ignore the struggles of his fellow expatriates. Huchu deploys satire to thoughtful end in what is quickly becoming his signature mode. Shying from neither the political nor the personal, he creates a humorous but increasingly somber picture of love, loss, and belonging in the Zimbabwean diaspora.
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And Then the Gray Heaven
Katz, R. E. And Then the Gray Heaven. Ann Arbor, MI: Dzanc Books, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"And Then the Gray Heaven centers on Jules, whose partner B has recently died in a freak accident. Confronting the red tape of the hospital, the dissociation and cruelty of B's family, and the unimaginable void now at the center of their lives, Jules and new friend Theo embark on a road trip to bury two-thirds of B's ashes in the places they most belong. Along the way, Katz delves into their relationship and their life stories–Jules' rise from abandoned baby origins through the Florida foster care system, and B's artistic transformation, surrounded by kindred spirits who helped them realize it was possible to be regarded as a human and not as a body. Delving into what it means to try to be alive to your own pain and the pain of others under late capitalism, And Then the Gray Heaven explores the themes of queer grief and affection, queer failure, burial as hero's journey, and the grotesqueries of artistic determination within and beyond the institutions that define our lives."–from Amazon.com.
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The Moor's Account
Lalami, Laila. The Moor's Account. Reading: Periscope, 2015. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"In 1527 the Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez arrived on the coast of modern-day Florida with hundreds of settlers, and claimed the region for Spain. Almost immediately, the expedition was decimated by a combination of navigational errors, disease, starvation and fierce resistance from indigenous tribes. Within a year, only four survivors remained: three noblemen and a Moroccan slave called “Estebanico”. The official record, set down after a reunion with Spanish forces in 1536, contains only the three freemen’s accounts. The fourth, to which the title of Laila Lalami’s masterful novel alludes, is Estebanico’s own. Lalami gives us Estebanico as history never did: as Mustafa, the vibrant merchant from Azemmur forced into slavery and a new name, and reborn as the first black explorer of the Americas, discovering and being discovered by various tribes both hostile and compassionate. In Estebanico’s telling, the survivors’ journey across great swathes of the New World transforms would-be conquerors into humble servants and fearful outcasts into faith healers. He remains ever-observant, resourceful and hopeful that he might one day find his way back to his family, even as he experiences an unexpected (if ambiguous) camaraderie with his masters. The Moor’s Account illuminates the ways in which stories can transmigrate into history, and how storytelling can offer a chance for redemption, reinvention and survival." - Publisher description.
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Home
Morrison, Toni. Home. Vintage International Ser. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"When Frank Money joined the army to escape his too-small world, he left behind his cherished and fragile little sister, Cee. After the war, he journeys to his native Georgia with a renewed sense of purpose in search of his sister, but it becomes clear that their troubles began well before their wartime separation. Together, they return to their rural hometown of Lotus, where buried secrets are unearthed and where Frank learns at last what it means to be a man, what it takes to heal, and—above all—what it means to come home." – Provided by publisher.
Tar Baby
Morrison, Toni. Tar Baby. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"Jadine Childs is a Black fashion model with a white patron, a white boyfriend, and a coat made out of ninety perfect sealskins. Son is a Black fugitive who embodies everything she loathes and desires. As Morrison follows their affair, which plays out from the Caribbean to Manhattan and the deep South, she charts all the nuances of obligation and betrayal between Blacks and whites, masters and servants, and men and women." - Publisher description.
Song of Solomon
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. As Morrison follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family's origins, she introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized Black world." - Publisher description.
Sula
Morrison, Toni. Sula. New York: Vintage International, 2004. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. This brilliantly imagined novel brings us the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Nel and Sula's devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret. It endures even after Nel has grown up to be a pillar of the black community and Sula has become a pariah. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal—or does it end? Terrifying, comic, ribald and tragic, Sula is a work that overflows with life." - Publisher description.
God Help the Child
Morrison, Toni. God Help the Child. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"This fiery and provocative novel from the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult. At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride's mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.” - Publisher description.
Love
Morrison, Toni. Love. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
A spellbinding symphony of passion and hatred, power and perversity, color and class that spans three generations of Black women in a fading beach town.“A marvelous work, which enlarges our conception not only of love but of racial politics.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review In life, Bill Cosey enjoyed the affections of many women, who would do almost anything to gain his favor. In death his hold on them may be even stronger. Wife, daughter, granddaughter, employee, mistress: As Morrison's protagonists stake their furious claim on Cosey's memory and estate, using everything from intrigue to outright violence, she creates a work that is shrewd, funny, erotic, and heartwrenching.
Paradise
Morrison, Toni. Paradise. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"The acclaimed Nobel Prize winner challenges our most fiercely held beliefs as she weaves folklore and history, memory and myth into an unforgettable meditation on race, religion, gender, and a far-off past that is ever present—in prose that soars with the rhythms, grandeur, and tragic arc of an epic poem.“They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time.” So begins Toni Morrison's Paradise, which opens with a horrifying scene of mass violence and chronicles its genesis in an all-black small town in rural Oklahoma. Founded by the descendants of freed slaves and survivors in exodus from a hostile world, the patriarchal community of Ruby is built on righteousness, rigidly enforced moral law, and fear. But seventeen miles away, another group of exiles has gathered in a promised land of their own. And it is upon these women in flight from death and despair that nine male citizens of Ruby will lay their pain, their terror, and their murderous rage." - Publisher description.
The Book Keeper: A Memoir of Race, Love, and Legacy
Munemo, Julia McKenzie. The Book Keeper: A Memoir of Race, Love, and Legacy. Athens: Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, 2020. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"When a stack of pulpy paperback novels written by her long-dead father landed on Julia McKenzie Munemo's kitchen table, she - a white woman - had been married to a black man from Zimbabwe for six years and their first son was a toddler. Her alarm at the covers, which promised interracial pornography set during slavery-some of it even taking place in Africa-was matched only by her shame about her father's secret career. All she'd previously known about him was that he'd suffered from depression and delusions and had killed himself when she was five. So she did what she always did with details about her dad, and hid the books from herself, and from her growing mixed-race family. But then, a decade later, when police shootings of African American men were more and more in the public eye, she realized that understanding her own legacy seemed like the only way to begin to understand what was happening in her country. The Book Keeper is equal parts love story, family interrogation, and racial reckoning as Munemo comes to terms with her whiteness, and with her history." - Publisher description.
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The little death: A Henry Rios mystery
Nava, Michael. The little death: A Henry Rios mystery. Latino literature. 4th ed. Los Angeles, Calif: Alyson Books, 2003. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"Henry Rios is introduced as a troubled San Francisco public defender battling alcoholism and burnout. While investigating the murder of an old friend, he traces clues back to the man’s own wealthy family. It is here that we first encounter Henry Rios’s struggle to maintain his faith in a legal system caught between justice and corruption, a theme that will continue throughout the series." - Amazon description.
Things We Lost to the Water
Nguyen, Eric. Things We Lost to the Water. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"When Huong arrives in New Orleans with her two young sons, she is jobless, homeless, and worried about her husband, Cong, who remains in Vietnam. As she and her boys begin to settle into life in America, she continues to send letters and tapes back to Cong, hopeful that they will be reunited and her children will grow up with a father. Over time, Huong realizes she will never see Cong again. While she copes with this loss, her sons, Tuan and Binh, grow up in their absent father's shadow, haunted by a man and a country trapped in their memory and imagination. As they push forward, the three adapt to life in America in different ways: Huong takes up with a Vietnamese car salesman who is also new in town; Tuan tries to connect with his heritage by joining a local Vietnamese gang; and Binh, now going by Ben, embraces his burgeoning sexuality. Their search for identity–as individuals and as a family–tears them apart, until disaster strikes and they must find a new way to come together and honor the ties that bind them"–
The Reactive
Ntshanga, Masande. The Reactive, 2016. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"...a clear-eyed and compassionate depiction of a young HIV+ man grappling with the sudden death of his younger brother, for which he feels unduly responsible. Lindanathi and his friends—Cecelia and Ruan—make their living working low-paying jobs and selling anti-retroviral drugs (during the period in South Africa before ARVs became broadly distributed). In between, they huff glue, drift in and out of parties, and traverse the streets of Cape Town, where they observe the grave material disparities of their country. A mysterious masked man appears seeking to buy their surplus of ARVs, an offer that would present the three with the opportunity to escape their environs, while at the same time forcing Lindanathi to confront his path, and finally, his past. With brilliant, shimmering prose, Ntshanga has delivered a redemptive, ambitious, and unforgettable first novel." - Publisher description.

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