“Welcome to Lagos” by Chibundu Onuzo is the story of five people from different parts of Nigerian society who flee the Niger Delta in hopes of better lives in Lagos. Instead they find themselves struggling to secure basics like employment, a place to live, and food. Largely ignored by society, they get caught up in a political scandal that threatens to upend their lives right when they finally find some degree of stability and comfort.
“The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man” by James Weldon Johnson is the fictional account of a biracial man looking back over his life. The story is told in the first-person though the narrator remains unnamed and is never described physically. He tells of being born in the South and growing up in Connecticut where he learns that he is a very light-skinned biracial boy who some assume is White. As a young man he sets out on his own and travels to different parts of America and later Europe, recounting his experiences in Black and White society along the way.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel “We Cast a Shadow” is set in an unnamed Southern city in the not too distant future. American society has become more racially restrictive. To avoid the various prejudices suffered by Black people, some resort to “demelanization”, a painful procedure that removes physical traits associated with Black people. The book is a slightly off-beat dark comedy about a nameless narrator who goes to desperate lengths to shield his son from this race-based dystopian society.
If you like detective novels and police procedurals with twists and turns as well as a bit of depth that makes the story and characters feel both familiar and refreshing then my book review of “Bluebird, Bluebird” by Attica Locke is for you.