So this is a book of short stories, the first one I’ve come across on the shelf. I hope it isn’t the last because I really like these. They’re a breeze to read. The backbone to this entire book is that someone in the stories is probably from Ghana.
This book gets a point for actually being written by an Afican American, as opposed to an African African. Now. The author is from Ghana, but currently lives in Brooklyn. Which is closer to African American fiction than “Things Fall Apart” or “Half of a Yellow Sun.” This has nothing to do with where books are written or who writes them, but more to do with how fucking stupid America’s book categorizations system is. If a black person wrote it, it goes into the African American Fiction section, no matter if the person is African, or American, or what other genre the book might be. It was kind of a joke when I started doing this, but it’s amazing how many authors in the AA fiction section aren’t AA at all. They’re just black from somewhere.
Anyway, this book is a mixed bag of goodies. Oh the whole, I enjoyed it. When the book is dealing with issues of race or colonialization or imperialism and religion, it’s pretty on point. When the book touches on gender issues it’s not as cohesive. That stuff clearly isn’t the authors bag, but problems are problems.
So most of these short stories are very conversational. People talking about life and stuff. Since almost all the protagonists are men, you come across a few male gazey scenes. Those are whatever, and then there’s the representation. We get the single moms and the mean women and the needy queen bee and the poor maid and the big fat ugly domineering wife.
Not all of these are ‘negative’ or intended to be that way, but there isn’t the scholar or shop owner or leader to balance anything out, and the ones that are negative definitely get their full time.
The positives are that the stories are all generally well written, and the language is good. I feel that he’s at his personal best doing the thoughtful conversation stuff (even though one of those stories goes off rails in the worst way possible). It’s a quick read and if a story doesn’t hit you in a page or two you miss nothing by hopping to the next one.
I wouldn’t recommend this really, because one short story turned me off so thoroughly it made the parts of the book that were remotely enjoyable less so.The more I think about it the worse it gets too.
Below the cut TW: Rape Racism
Avoid the story “Rachmaninov” at all costs though.