RaveBooklist... remarkable ... The nuances and foibles of their multilayered friendship are detailed through Amanda’s astute, conversational observations, along with reflections on their collective experiences as Black artists in creative spaces. Amanda, a character Jones introduced in The Healing (1998), is secretive with her friends, but her compelling backstory, told in alternating flashback chapters, is rife with explorations of marriage, motherhood, and identity. Jones’ prose is captivating, at moments coolly observational and at others profoundly intimate; the delicate balance is the mark of a truly great storyteller. An intriguing, tightly crafted, and insightful meditation on creativity and complicated friendships.
RaveAvenue Magazine... remarkable ... [O\'Farrell] manages to infuse the novel with strikingly vivid detail — minute aspects of life in a Renaissance court captured with a delicate attention to every one of the senses. Lucrezia’s rich inner life, her budding creativity as a painter, and an insightfulness that belies her age are treated to O’Farrell’s elegant, transporting prose ... Granting us access to these small, significant moments, O’Farrell endows Lucrezia with a genuine humanity and gives life to a person whose brief existence could have easily been lost to obscurity
PositiveBooklistConcise, powerful ... Though the spare prose effectively conveys an underlying sense of doom and violence on the periphery for most of the novel, the story ultimately surprises. Hamid imaginatively takes on timely, universal topics, including identity, grief, community, family, race, and what it means to live through sudden and often violent change.
Tara M. Stringfellow
RaveBooklistThis vivid debut novel examines the tragedies, joys, and deep connections of one extraordinary Memphis family ... [Joan\'s] coming of age is startling, and she is the strongest character in a story populated with unforgettable characters. Stringfellow’s prose is evocative as she describes each scene in detail and steadily builds the many layers of this complex African American family’s history. A powerful family saga from a promising writer.
John Edgar Wideman
RaveBooklist... another compelling contribution to his expansive oeuvre ... Wideman touches on a wealth of timely and timeless topics, including identity, family relationships, culture, history, and social issues throughout these provocative stories. He creates an experimental, time-transcending journey into family histories...and an epic retelling of the story of one of the first African American missionaries ... In each story, Wideman illustrates just how intricately the past is interwoven with the present, and there is plenty here to satisfy fans of captivating literary storytelling.
Michael Eric Dyson
PositiveBooklist... an excellent set of ruminations that examine the resulting pressures and scrutiny of Black entertainment, honor the endurance and beauty of Black artistry, and reach into political history and analysis ... Dyson’s essays and writings address a rich assortment of thought-provoking topics. Separated into sections covering such areas as the arts, religion, notable public speeches, academics, and many more, this volume offers an expansive and accessible overview of the inquiries of an important social and cultural thinker.
John Oliver Killens
RaveBooklistRazor-sharp dialogue, absurdist situations, caricatures of politicians, activists, and celebrities all comprise Killens’ epigrammatic send-up of twentieth-century politics and the illogical societal realities that stem from racism and global affairs of state. Though bitingly witty and full of laugh-out-loud humor, this novel remains true to what legendary satirist Ishmael Reed describes in his foreword as Killens’ mission, \'adumbrating the racist evil that dogs the American soul.\' Vividly and skillfully written, this vibrant, long-missing novel, published 34 years after the death of this Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, civil rights activist, and key figure in the Black Arts Movement, is certain to be a timeless classic of satirical fiction.
RaveBooklist... an impressive new volume by Pulitzer Prize–winner Komunyakaa. The new work ushers the reader into the rhythmic meditations on topics that include racial violence, memory, and the duality of moments that are both ephemeral and timeless ... These new works are followed by a solid representation of the last two decades of the poet’s rich oeuvre, replete with his signature, striking, unexpected imagery and lyricism. Komunyakaa’s gift for beautifully revealing the godly alongside the earthly, the realistic alongside the surreal, is superbly showcased in this well-curated and essential collection.
PositiveBooklist... riveting ... Each section opens with an interlude that adds to Amaru’s story, suggesting parallels to the indelible impact of these two celebrated individuals. The insights in this absorbing narrative contribute to a deeper understanding of Shakur’s complexity as a person and an artist. With the resurgence of interest in Shakur’s music and the impending anniversary of his murder, this is a timely addition to the fascinating story of Shakur’s legendary, ubiquitous, and enduring legacy.
RaveBooklist... delves into the many iterations of Black artistic expression through an often deeply personal lens ... Whether pondering the dynamic life and contributions of Josephine Baker or meditating on his own various performances, the author’s ruminations are an invitation to think deeply about Black performance on both cultural and individual levels. Abdurraqib consistently engages the reader, mixing conversational tones and poetic turns of phrase, with surprising, succinct insights. Startling, layered, and timely, this is an essential, illuminating collection that advances Abdurraqib’s already impressive body of work.
PositiveBooklist... engaging ... Through well-developed characters, Johnson provides a realistic portrayal of middle America in the tumultuous era of economic collapse.
RaveBooklist... extraordinary ... Askaripour has created a skillfully written, biting, witty, and absurdist novel that sheds light on racism, start-up culture, corporate morality, media bias, gentrification, and many other timely, important themes. Askaripour is an author to watch.
RaveBooklistGiovanni’s latest collection is her finest to date ... Imbued with the classic, accessible, and deeply empathetic style of this venerated American poet, these works touch on topics ranging from aging, memories of childhood, elegies for loved ones who have passed, and pride in Black heritage ... Giovanni’s ability to pare down complex subjects in exquisitely succinct poetic forms makes her work timeless and profoundly resonant for both poetry aficionados and casual readers.